Using Bar Codes in Total Office Manager
This article talks about how to use barcodes and Item Aliases in Total Office Manager.
For this instruction guide we will assume that you want to print item labels that include bar codes. The bar codes will be used to speed up the process of data entry such as creating invoices or reordering.
You Must Track Inventory
You must be using Total Office Manager inventory control. In other words, you need to be using Total Office Manager’s Purchase Order and Enter Bill features to order inventory parts that you stock and sell. Your vendor’s item numbers will be used when you enter these parts. You must also then select the appropriate part number when creating an invoice.
If you track inventory, you must:
- Select specific item numbers when using Purchase Orders, entering Vendor Bills, and Receiving Items. You can’t use “catch all” items such as “Installation Materials”.
- Use the supplier’s part numbers or re-label all items with your own numbers. Also see the Total Office Manager help topic called Item Alias.
- Have all employees write down part numbers on invoices. This must be complete and accurate for tracking purposes.
- You must enter all items that you do not currently have in your computer system.
- You must select all item numbers and serialized inventory parts (if applicable) when invoicing.
- You should look up all items and create a system for employees to check out inventory.
- You must carefully check in all unused inventory. These are items which are checked out to perform a job, but are not used when the job is completed.
- All vehicles and warehouses must be checked and counted for inventory parts at least once per year. However, it is recommended that you perform a check four (4) times per year.
- Purchase Orders should be utilized to track and confirm all purchases. Technicians are then required to contact the appropriate office personnel for purchase approval and to receive a Purchase Order number. This number should be used to reference any purchases made.
- If part numbers are incomplete or illegible, employees must be contacted for clarification.
- If tracking multiple warehouses (recommended), you must also receive, sell and transfer inventory by warehouses. (i.e., trucks, stores, warehouses, etc.)
- You will need to use item transfer slips (or similar documents) to keep track of an employee(s) borrowing inventory parts from different trucks and/or warehouses.
Creating Bar Codes
After you have set up your inventory parts in Total Office Manager, your next step in bar coding is printing the actual bar code labels. All of the various labels are available from the main menu as shown below.
We recommend that you use Avery labels such as item number 5260. Avery also offers weather-resistant labels (5520). We highly recommend that you consider their “Reusable” labels. These allow your technicians to peel the labels from the part and apply them to the back of the service invoice. The office can then reapply the labels when the parts are reordered. See www.avery.com.
Scanning Bar Codes
All of the major forms that allow the input of inventory part numbers include a “Lookup” option at the top of the item list. When you click the selection arrow (circled in red) the drop-down item list will be displayed. From there, you will see the <Lookup> option.
Clicking <Lookup> opens the Lookup form shown below. This form was designed to make the bulk selection or bar code scanning of items easier than working from the regular item list.
With this form opened, scan each bar code label using your bar code scanner. Each time an item is scanned; the item will be selected and added to the list on the right hand side. When you are finished scanning your labels, simply click the OK button to close the form and add the scanned items to the invoice or other form.
Inventory Label Procedure
The following is a suggestion on how you might manage the task of ordering, labeling, entering and reordering inventory items using Total Office Manager.
- A service truck stock list needs to be created. These lists will vary depending on the tech’s capabilities and what type of work they do. Tip: Any repair part that you sell four times or more per year should be on this list. Total Office Manager includes a report called Inventory Sales Activity. Once you have been using Total Office Manager’s inventory functions, this report will allow you to see what items are being sold (by truck if you wish) and how often.
- Each truck should be cleaned out and stocked according to this list. Each part is labeled using a reusable bar code sticker. Small items can be placed in re-sealable plastic bags and the bag can be labeled. You may include extra labels in the bag.
- When a technician uses a part, they remove the sticker from the item package and place that sticker on the back of the invoice they plan to turn over to the office.
- When invoices are entered into Total Office Manager, the bar code stickers are read using a scanner and product data automatically populates the Lookup form as noted above.
- Stickers are removed from the invoice and placed on an order sheet. These sheets are faxed to your favorite suppliers for reorder and delivery. The best time to reorder is usually Friday.
- Parts should be delivered on Monday. Stickers are moved from the reorder sheets back to the parts you just received. This is also an efficient way of checking items received against what was ordered.
- We recommend that you conduct service meetings every Tuesday morning. So on Tuesday morning, as part of your regular meeting, you will hand out the parts that were delivered by your supplier.
- The entire process starts over again.
Inventory Item Alias (alternative part numbers)
Please Note: This feature must be turned on in order for you to see the features mentioned below. To turn this feature on, Click Edit | Preferences. Check the Item Alias check box. The item alias feature is used to create multiple item numbers for a single item. You may create alternative part numbers for your customers or vendors. Each part number may have an alternative for each customer and each vendor.
The item alias form in Total Office Manager allows you to enter the actual part number that each of your vendors uses. You may also enter part numbers for your customers. Some companies may not wish to reveal the actual part number of what was sold to the customer. The customer could use this information to perform Internet searches for the same part. This could create unfair price objections. The same is true when you create a sales proposal in Total Office Manager. Using item aliases allows you to reduce the likelihood of price comparisons.
This feature is also handy when you want to create your own part numbers and also use the vendor’s part number when ordering.
You sell a two pole 30 amp ITE style breaker. You normally buy this breaker from several different vendors; each vendor has their own part number. You can enter a default part number using the part number from the most likely vendor or you may create your own logical part number.
A logical part number might be BKRITE302. Here is how the part number breaks out (this is the nomenclature).
BKR = Breaker
ITE = ITE Style
30 = 30 amps
2 = 2 poles
Here are two other examples of logical part numbers:
The first item number is for a 1/2HP 115 volt direct drive motor. The second is a 6″ 90 degree 30 gauge sheet metal elbow. I bet you can see the logic behind each character in the part number.
When you print your invoices, purchase order, estimates and certain other documents, you will have the opportunity to select whether you display the item alias or the default part number.
- Before you get started, be sure that the item alias feature is activated in the Preferences form (click Edit | Preferences | Items).
- From the part list (click Customers | Invoice Item List), locate the part that you wish to add aliases to and open the form.
- Click the Item Alias button (you may need permission to do this) to open the Item Alias form.
- You should see a list of vendors and customers. You will also see a field to enter an alternative part number.
- Enter item numbers for each customer or each vendor as needed. If you wish to use the same item number for all customers, use the Apply to Selected feature (see tips below).
- The Apply to Selected feature allows you to enter a single item number, highlight one or more customers or vendors, and, with a click of a button, apply that item number to all of the selected records.
- Not all item types will include the item alias feature (Example: Sales Tax Items or Sales Tax Item Groups).
- You can use the Advanced Find feature (click Edit | Advanced Search) to search for item aliases.
- Use item aliases to allow for easy ordering of the same part from different vendors.
- Use the item alias feature to prevent customers from obtaining the part number and ordering parts without you.
- When creating a sale, invoice, purchase order, estimate, etc., and you wish to lookup a part number by its alias, use the Lookup feature found at the top of the Item List selection (the drop down list of items in the item grid area).
- Note: You must have a customer: job selected before the lookup form will display aliases.