I’ve been talking about QuickBooks barcode support a lot lately. If you have an inventory-centric business, barcodes can really help improve your efficiency and accuracy of data entry. This has been an area that I’ve received a lot of questions about ever since Intuit introduced barcode support in QuickBooks Enterprise Advanced Inventory. While I like many aspects of Intuit’s barcode product, I think that it is unfortunate that they’ve limited it to Enterprise, so I’ve been looking at alternatives. Today we’ll look at how you can use SmartScan Inventory Essentials to use barcodes with sales and purchasing transactions in QuickBooks.
Baus Systems markets a number of barcode related products. I’ve already talked about SmartScan Barcode Translator and SmartScan Inventory Count. SmartScan Inventory Essentials is a collection of barcode modules that integrate with QuickBooks to automate a number of functions and several of them provide order verification features
“Order Verification” essentially means using barcodes to compare the quantity of items on the order to what your shipping or receiving department is handling for that order. If you are packing up items for an invoice, are you sure that all of the necessary items are being picked? If you are receiving a shipment, do you want to easily enter the information about the items you have received? That is “order verification”, and SmartScan can help.
SmartScan Inventory Essentials is a collection of modules – you can pick and choose the functions you want to automate. The modules are:
- Sales Order Verification
- Invoice Verification
- Purchase Order Verification
- Sales Receipt Verification
- Credit Memo Verification
- Inventory Count
Note that the Baus Systems website doesn’t list all of these modules, although they are all available.
All of these modules (other than Inventory Count, which I’ve discussed before) perform very similar functions – working with barcodes to simplify “processing” an existing order in QuickBooks. You aren’t going to create orders with this product, you are going to verify that you are shipping (or receiving) the right quantity of items as well as (in some cases) creating another transaction in QuickBooks, with the aid of a barcode scanner. If you are processing a large number of orders and you need to improve data accuracy and the speed of processing then this kind of program can be a great benefit.
In addition, some of these modules can be used to create another transaction in QuickBooks, such as an item receipt (for a purchase order) or invoice (for a sales order).
Let’s take a look at how this works using a Sales Order as an example. The other modules work very similarly. Note that this is just an overview, not a full tutorial.
There are a number of options as to how the program interacts with QuickBooks. The key issue is the update reporting feature. You have the option to print a report of what has been scanned, to add a “To Do” transaction in QuickBooks, or to create an invoice. Note that the credit memo, sales receipt and invoice verification modules only have options to print a report or add a “To Do”.
Click the Get Sales Orders button and the program retrieves sales orders from QuickBooks in the date range that you specify. Note that you can control which columns show in the sales order listing.
Select a sales order from the list and go to the sales order detail tab, which lists the detail lines of the order. From this screen you can manually select the item and enter the quantity to be verified, but the real time savings comes when you use a barcode scanner.
There are two kinds of scanners that you can use – a “tethered” scanner that is attached directly to your computer running this program and QuickBooks, or a “mobile” scanner that gives you independence from your desktop or laptop computer running QuickBooks. For details on tethered and mobile scanners that work with this software see my article on SmartScan Inventory Count.
Working with a “tethered” scanner (such as a laser scanner plugged into a USB port), you simply place the cursor on the scan code field and scan the barcode. SmartScan will find the item on the list and enter the quantity. You can manually enter the quantity, or you can set up a series of barcoded quantity values so that you can use the scanner to enter the quantity easily. Note that the items that were scanned are marked in green by the program.
If you have set the program up to generate an invoice, once you are finished processing you can look back at the sales order in QuickBooks to see that it has been updated.
And here is the invoice that was created. This was all done simply by scanning the items in SmartScan and clicking the Done button.
In the workflow shown above for sales orders I set the Report Update feature to create an invoice for the items shipped for the sales order. Only the sales order verification and purchase order verification modules will actually create another transaction type in QuickBooks based on the scanned information – but there are a number of other very useful options. Here are a few:
QuickBooks To Do: When you finish a scanning run SmartScan can post a To Do to QuickBooks to notify you that an action has taken place.
Scanning Report: You can have a simple scanning report that shows all of the activity.
Packing List: SmartScan can print a packing slip for you without having to go back to QuickBooks. Note, however, that you have very limited control over the appearance of this document.
Using a Mobile Scanner
In the workflow shown above you must have a scanner that is attached to a Windows computer that has SmartScan and QuickBooks installed, what I have been calling a “tethered” scanner. That might not fit your situation if you have a shipping department in a warehouse or other rugged environment. SmartScan optionally can work with certain kinds of handheld mobile scanners, where you can load the sales orders into the mobile device and use it to scan the barcodes, then sync back with your Windows computer.
I’ve talked about this kind of device in my article on SmartScan Inventory Count, and in this example I’m using the same Honeywell scanner as before. In the graphic below, on the right you see SmartScan on your computer, where I’ve selected two sales orders to be loaded into the mobile device. On the left is what you will see on the mobile device as the orders are being uploaded while it is plugged into a docking cradle plugged into the computer (note that I’m not showing every detailed step of the process).
Now, out in the warehouse, I select the sales order to work with (order number 2 for Anderson Wedding) on the mobile scanner.
When I scan a barcode the “scanned” quantity is incremented.
You can scan barcodes for multiple orders, and then return the scanner to the docking cradle, where you import the information back to SmartScan. From there the process is the same as with a tethered scanner.
There are many benefits to using a mobile scanner. These devices are usually more rugged than a laptop computer and laser scanner, which is good when you have a harsh environment in the shipping or receiving area. You also aren’t tied down to the computer, you can walk about anywhere the items are found. Another great benefit is that you don’t have to provide all of your shipping/receiving personnel with access to QuickBooks – you can have one clerk with QuickBooks in the office who loads the orders into the device, hands it out to the warehouse crew, and retrieves the information when the device is returned.
Purchase Order Verification
The ability to receive items into QuickBooks via barcoding is extremely useful. The process is very similar to what we saw above with the sales order verification, and it can work with either a tethered or mobile scanner. Here’s a quick look at what you’ll see using a tethered scanner.
We start with a purchase order in QuickBooks.
Use SmartScan to retrieve the purchase order from QuickBooks and then scan the items that you have received.
Click Done and you’ll see that an Item Receipt is created in QuickBooks (and the Purchase Order reflects the receipt as well). The Memo field tells you that this was a receipt generated by SmartScan. Note that you can create different “users” in SmartScan (not the same as QuickBooks users) and that the user name is shown in the memo field.
Compared to the QuickBooks Barcode Feature
Intuit recently introduced barcode support in QuickBooks Enterprise with Advanced Inventory. The availability of this feature has generated a lot of interest by QuickBooks advisors and users. However, when comparing it to SmartScan Inventory Essentials, there are some significant differences.
Features of QuickBooks Enterprise Advanced Inventory barcoding:
- Can print barcodes on reports and labels (although very limited).
- Lets you use barcodes to simplify data entry in a variety of transactions – primarily focusing on creating orders (purchase orders, sales orders, estimates, invoices, sales receipts, credit memos, checks, bills and credit card charges).
- Includes a very nice Receiving function for items in a purchase order, which will create an item receipt.
- Is only available in QuickBooks Enterprise V13 (not Pro or Premier, or older versions of Enterprise).
- Costs $999 per year, in addition to requiring that you maintain a current full service plan support contract (prices vary).
- Works only with “tethered” barcode scanners.
Features of SmartScan Inventory Essentials (note that Inventory Essentials is a family of six modules, you can pick the modules you want to work with):
- Provides automation for a physical inventory count (Inventory Count module).
- Lets you use barcodes to verify the accuracy of a variety of transactions in the shipping/receiving department (purchase orders, sales orders, invoices, sales receipts and credit memos).
- Includes a Receiving function for items in a purchase order, which will create an item receipt (Purchase Order Verification module).
- Can automatically create an invoice from a sales order at shipping time (Sales Order Verification module).
- Is available for QuickBooks Pro, Premier or Enterprise, 2006 and later.
- Costs $399 per module, one time fee. Bundled pricing is also available at $999 for any three modules (most likely all you will need is three). If you wish to have multiple mobile devices additional licenses for the mobile device are available at $50 each.
- Works with both “tethered” and “mobile” scanning devices.
While the QuickBooks Enterprise barcoding feature provides features not found in SmartScan Inventory Essentials, there are additional programs available that can fill the gap. WaspLabeler is one of several excellent barcode labeling programs that work with QuickBooks. You can also work with SmartScan Barcode Translator to automate the data entry side of things.
How about using them together? You can, but with some caveats. Note that this is starting to get expensive if you combine BOTH products. The primary issue is what “value” you will be using for the barcode. Where is the data coming from? SmartScan is going to work with the Item Name, Manufacturer’s Part Number or the value in a “custom field”. QuickBooks Enterprise creates a special “barcode number” field that contains the value. Unfortunately, third party product like SmartScan can’t access that special field at this time because Intuit hasn’t made it available yet – it is “hidden” (this may change at some point in the future). You still can work with this – because the value placed in the “barcode number” field when you set up QuickBooks Enterprise barcoding can come from the item name, manufacturer’s part number or a custom field – but you have to be careful how you manage things. You will have two separate fields for the information and you have to keep them in sync. It can be done!
Things that Annoy Me
If you have read my reviews of other SmartScan products you know that there are a few things that I find annoying – but that aren’t major problems. As with their other products I don’t like the hard to read manual – it is just too small to read easily! However, unlike the other products it looks like the manual contains all of the information that you need, which I found to be very helpful. Considering that Baus Systems provides EXCELLENT technical support (free for the first two months, by phone and email), this is NOT a big problem at all.
Conclusion – I Like It!
These programs work! It didn’t take long to set up, and every function that I tried worked as it should. The integration with QuickBooks is done properly, and I really like the ability to work with the mobile scanner. Baus Systems loaned me the Honeywell scanner for this evaluation and I’m going to have a hard time returning it to them (I will, Steve, I promise, any day now).
I’ve talked to a number of businesses that use this product, and every one of them has been very happy with the value that they have received.
All in all, the program worked as advertised and was simple to operate, it posted the correct information to QuickBooks in the correct way, and it performs a vital function for any inventory-centric business.