What should a basic job shop quoting software have?
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    Default What should a basic job shop quoting software have?

    Since I’m sort of retired…or was that retarded? Anyway, I’m considering creating some software for doing basic job shop quoting. I mostly have used a spreadsheet to do this when I was working full time, but though it works reasonably well, it can be slow as your still punching in a bunch of numbers… the minutes, tenths of an hour, or dollars, cents, or whatever you use to tally up your time for the different processes and cost of doing a job.

    I’ve tried a few of the under 1200 bucks packages out there and though some have pretty good ways of speeding up the quoting process none really have got it down to where it is friendly and usable, at least more so than a simple spreadsheet. All that I’ve seen seem to be written by people who have no clue as to a job shops actual needs or processes. There was one I tried that was OK, but the method of use was cumbersome plus it was so full of glitches that it would crash and then you would lose everything and have to start over.

    I think I’ve come up with this way of eliminating as much as possible the hand inputting of numbers thereby hopefully speeding up the process of quoting and also have a few ideas for a few other processes such as compiling and presenting the quote.

    Next, I would like to come up with follow-up modules which will take the Purchase Order and using the original quote selects out the awarded parts and assembles a traveler.

    What that module and other modules will do to go beyond just a traveler is still being worked out, it will be something to help ordering materials, cutters, scheduling the machines, follow the job through the shop and outside operations, ect
    .
    When I said “I was considering creating software” I not going to write it myself but I have a very smart professional to do for me.

    Using a ‘pick and click’ windowed flow chart system that have their own flow chart screens appears to be the best way of minimizing time spent doing your different chores of the quoting process. Having the ability to tweak (within reason) these windows or adding to different data bases to them ‘as you go’ also seems ideal. Again, keeping it quick and intuitive is the challenge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scadvice View Post
    Since I’m sort of retired…or was that retarded? Anyway, I’m considering creating some software for doing basic job shop quoting. I mostly have used a spreadsheet to do this when I was working full time, but though it works reasonably well, it can be slow as your still punching in a bunch of numbers… the minutes, tenths of an hour, or dollars, cents, or whatever you use to tally up your time for the different processes and cost of doing a job.

    I’ve tried a few of the under 1200 bucks packages out there and though some have pretty good ways of speeding up the quoting process none really have got it down to where it is friendly and usable, at least more so than a simple spreadsheet. All that I’ve seen seem to be written by people who have no clue as to a job shops actual needs or processes. There was one I tried that was OK, but the method of use was cumbersome plus it was so full of glitches that it would crash and then you would lose everything and have to start over.

    I think I’ve come up with this way of eliminating as much as possible the hand inputting of numbers thereby hopefully speeding up the process of quoting and also have a few ideas for a few other processes such as compiling and presenting the quote.

    Next, I would like to come up with follow-up modules which will take the Purchase Order and using the original quote selects out the awarded parts and assembles a traveler.

    What that module and other modules will do to go beyond just a traveler is still being worked out, it will be something to help ordering materials, cutters, scheduling the machines, follow the job through the shop and outside operations, ect
    .
    When I said “I was considering creating software” I not going to write it myself but I have a very smart professional to do for me.

    Using a ‘pick and click’ windowed flow chart system that have their own flow chart screens appears to be the best way of minimizing time spent doing your different chores of the quoting process. Having the ability to tweak (within reason) these windows or adding to different data bases to them ‘as you go’ also seems ideal. Again, keeping it quick and intuitive is the challenge.
    Im switching over to a system next week that does everything you describe. I'll let you know how it goes. It was developed around here and only in a couple shops as they are just starting out. The program is based off of MS Access.

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    I do some estimating at work and here are some things I'd see beneficial, most is pretty elementary and it's excel based.

    Detailed materials section. Could include dropdowns to handle common materials and help with cut time estimation.

    Tools/machines used, tied to the materials section could be pretty powerful.

    Preproduction processes- sawing deburring etc.

    External processes- HT, powdercoat

    Set percentage of time for internal accounting.

    Shipping/packaging costs.


    Just some things off my head

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    If you are a small shop and don't have a lot of quotes to track and manage I would keep it simple and just use Excel. I recently updated an old spreadsheet that I used in the '90s before we went to a full blown ERP with integrated estimating and quoting.

    It has places for material, labor and miscellaneous costs and calculates the cost and price for up to 4 quantity levels. It uses drop downs that reference a data table for work center costs and allows a couple of different ways to enter times. It wouldn't be difficult to add drop downs as well for commonly used materials. I have also thought that it would be nice to be able to create a traveler from it and maybe a sheet to record actual material costs and labor times so you could do an estimate vs actual comparison. All of this is doable within Excel.

    Take a look at it and let me know what you think - I'd appreciate the feedback. I tried to attach it to this post but it keeps telling me that a .xlsx file is invalid. You can find it attached to this blog post I wrote about cost estimating a couple of months ago.

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    I would love to check out your Excel sheet but I can't get to the blog post link that you gave. Can I please get a copy of it? I am a small sheet metal fabricator.

    Thank you,
    Steve

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    What should a basic job shop quoting software have?

    Paper and pen seem to be good features....




    --------------------------

    Think Snow Eh!
    Ox

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    The problem comes in that every shop "thinks" a bit different in quoting.
    Straightforward and simple to use for one is "crippled and worthless" to another.
    No matter what you write people will think you don't understand manufacturing as they see it.
    Heck I change mine around once a year and my first computer based one was on a "Ohio Scientific".
    Ox has a good point paper, pen and calculator change with you very easily, software not so much.
    Then you start to add fudge factors to the software, a slippery slope.

    Not saying that is not a good idea to try but it will be frustrating as what is logical to you is not to others.
    My list of what it should and has to have won't match anothers.
    Bob

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    Then you start to add fudge factors to the software, a slippery slope.

    THAT is a VERY good point!

    You would need a field for "bitch job" or "Slow pay / shaky ground customer", or "very hard to deal with customer, and only brings us the shit jobs", or even maybe as benign as "This is a very material heavy quote, and the outside costs are in a % way too high for my liking".

    If y'all don't use that field in your quote at all - I would Shirley expect to land a whole lot higher % of your quoted jobs!






    edit:

    Or maybe I don't know how to quote work?

    ---------------------------

    Think Snow Eh!
    Ox

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarbideBob View Post
    The problem comes in that every shop "thinks" a bit different in quoting.
    Straightforward and simple to use for one is "crippled and worthless" to another.

    Bob
    yup^^^
    and different customers might need different method of quoting depending what the requirements are.

    guess some template configuration would be high wish list. that way users could recall a quote style for a given situation.
    boy that could get complicated fast.

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    Bob and Ox make good points. It depends on the customer and also your workload. If I've already got weeks/months worth of work in front of me I'm going higher. Timeline also plays a role if it's a rush job or not. I've got a (soon to be ex) customer who I can only charge about $30/hr but I'll save him for another thread. It takes some time but you will figure out what you can charge each customer and the ones who are willing to pay what a part is worth and on time are the ones I'm looking to serve. I typically just write my prices on the print and stuff it in the file so when a similar part comes along I can reference it. Not program or excel file is able to include all the different variations.

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    I currently use an ERP software (ECI M1) for all of my quote history any to make it easily searchable/trackable, but I still use a few excel worksheets to do the actual quoting math.
    It has some downfalls - transcription errors, fat fingering changes to cells in excel, etc, but I haven't transitioned entirely to the ERP software specifically because of some of the stuff mentioned above - what is straightforward and seamless for one, is totally useless for another.

    One of the hardest parts of building a quote system for your business is that it forces you to put down - in no uncertain terms - exactly what you need to do, and exactly how you need to do it. It is where the paper and pencil and hands on approach really shines; you don't actually need to communicate the mechanisms behind your quoting.

    My intermediate approach, and what I am currently doing, is building an interactive spreadsheet in MS excel using VBA and SQL, because I am familiar with these languages I only have to focus on dialing in the end game of my quoting math. My ERP software, ECI M1, uses VB,SQL and .Net, but the inner workings of much of their code is hidden, and they have some really backwards ways of doing things.
    I originally started by just diving into M1 trying to build custom forms for quote entering, but I was essentially trying to write a program about something I didn't fully understand, in multiple languages I didn't fully understand, within a program that had a large majority of the functional structure hidden from view. - I like a challenge.. but c'mon... that's just crazy.

    My intent is to build the interactive worksheet in excel to a fully functional version - so that the 'nuance' of quoting is gone. Someone else can sit down, follow the prompts, and turn out a reasonable quote, even if they are not fully versed in the methods, capacities and limitations of my company.

    I will then hand that excel program over to someone that is skilled in M1, and say put this into that, please. And pay them a bunch of money to do it. That way I have solid coding built into my core ERP system, but do not have to describe the details in real time to a programmer.

    The highest cost of an ERP software is not the purchase price, or the yearly maintenance. It is the time and effort it takes to get it dialed into your needs and wants. The worst decision you can make regarding an ERP/quoting system is to make a hasty decision to go with a cheap, limited capacity, or be pressured by the sales person into "shoehorning" your problems into the capabilities of the system, and then letting it fester in mediocrity for years - thats when those "fudge factors" start coming up, and then you end up losing sight of where your money comes from and goes to.

    Take the time to research what is BEST for you, buy it, and then spend the necessary time and money to truly make it hop for you. It is something that is so important to a business, it only takes a few missed quotes or botched orders to add up to the 10,000-15,000 it would have cost to really get a dialed in system(for a small business). We don't flinch at buying fancy machine tools for 100k+, but we balk at spending 10,000 on something that is used every single day.

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    History is terrible thing to waste! The most important part of quoting a job successfully is your history of doing this kind of work. If you aren't capturing that then you are mostly guessing. At one time I created a chart for the different kinds of greenhouse machines we built, with the type of crop they were used with, and the cost of the machine per square ft of greenhouse. For one style of machine all the jobs we sold fell in the range of 29 cents to 79 cents per square ft. For the other style machine on a much more valuable crop the range was $1.15 to almost $3.00 a square foot. This was hugely useful in saving us quoting time. A quick calculation of cost per ft from what potential customer told us about his operation would tell us whether to just do a quick quote because there was nearly zero chance of getting the job, or really put on ritz because it was extremely likely we could land this job. Anything at the bottom of the respective price scale was almost guaranteed to be a winner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisAtkins View Post
    I have recently discovered the application Powerful Quoting application in the cloud and it is really great. The design is very slick, it’s straight forward. I create quote super fast and I can personalize them.
The fact that my customers are able to accept it online makes the process so seamless. I really recommend it especially for small business.
    Really ?

    Spammer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisAtkins View Post
    I have recently discovered the application SugarQuote SugarQuote: Powerful Quoting application in the cloud and it is really great. The design is very slick, it’s straight forward. I create quote super fast and I can personalize them.
The fact that my customers are able to accept it online makes the process so seamless. I really recommend it especially for small business.
    Spammers really think we are stupid, don't they?

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    SugarQuote?

    But, ya can't make sugar out of shit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dualkit View Post
    Spammers really think we are stupid, don't they?
    Actually,
    the sentence structure indicates a foreign entity.

    So I would not say "How stoopid does the spammer think we are?"
    Rather, as the spammer is working under contract for a legit business, "How stoopid
    is the Original owner of the link ?".
    Meaning, the spammer is getting paid, and is getting "Google Hit counts" for the customer, but is taking the easy road, much like a person paid to hand out flyers, dumps them all in the trash.

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    I have no idea how Google hits work. I see people posting annoying nonsense all over the place that would steer me away from patronizing their business even if I was interested. I suppose it must work somehow or they wouldn't do it. On the other hand I have to round up $2,000 to pay off someone who hijacked my webcam and is going to e-mail all my Facebook friends that I was watching teen age porn. The only problem is I don't have a web cam, Facebook and didn't like teenage girls when I was their age. I can't see how that works either. I wouldn't think someone stupid enough to fall for that would have $2,000 lying around.
    Last edited by Dualkit; 04-15-2019 at 04:40 PM.

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    Not trying to beat a dead horse here, but think your issue is going to come from the fact that everybody quotes very differently. Even companies within the same industry that have similar capabilities are interested in tracking different things. I'd suggest trying to keep your quoting tool industry specific unless you want to add on different fields over and over and over and over again...

    I've not worked with either of these companies, but doing some research on my own of better quoting tools they look interesting. Anybody have any experience or familiarity with either?

    Job Shop Manufacturing Software - Quoting and Cost Estimating - Paperless Parts

    Fulcrum: Manufacturing Software - Job Scheduling - Routing - Quoting

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    I'd be curious as well if anyone has any feedback on those tools. DocSteel--why are you looking for a better quoting tool? One thing we are worried about is that it's mostly just me quoting so I am a bit of a bottleneck, I'd like to get more people to help with this. Spreadsheet can work, but garyhlucas was spot on that we should be learning from our past quotes!

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    We use fabtrol, which does way more than we use. Inventory, heat certs, bidding and travel logs all in one very large package. It orders steel if we tell it to for a job..
    expensive, not easy to learn, works great across vendors and in house sales (structural, misc, processing, etc). It ties to machines and a few welders along with time clock to show difference in bid and reality hours and periodically updates generic prices to work from.
    I would guess there is a lite bid assist program that can even have basic learning for cost.. real cost per hole, pounds of material, pounds removed, total surface of finished parts. if not there is a multimillion dollar startup app manufacturing disruptor idea.


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