QuickBooks

QuickBooks 2018 Enhanced Order Fulfillment

Written by Charlie Russell

QuickBooks 2018 Enhanced Order Fulfillment is the most significant new feature of this year’s release. It is a major overhaul of the workflow for picking inventory items to fulfill open sales orders. One of the important aspects of this new workflow is the ability to work with a remote barcode scanning device. Intuit is finally coming up with a useful barcode scanning feature!

This new feature is found only in QuickBooks Enterprise V18, as a part of the Advanced Inventory feature that comes with an Enterprise Platinum level subscription. This will only be available in the US version.

Please note that these screen shots were taken from a pre-release version, so there may be some minor differences from what you see in your copy.

In this article, I’m looking at an early release of the product, and certain aspects of it are evolving rapidly. Intuit is taking feedback from test users, and early adopters after it is released, in order to modify the workflows to fit the needs of multiple kinds of businesses. I’ll point out some areas where I think there should be changes, and you may see some of these features changed by the time you get your hands on it.

This is the third of my series of articles on QuickBooks 2018, which includes:

QuickBooks 2018 Enhanced Order Fulfillment

This new feature includes a significant update to the Sales Order Fulfillment Worksheet, and an integration with a portable barcode scanner. If you are using sales orders and send pick lists to your warehouse, you will find this new feature very useful. If it fits your workflow you could see dramatic improvements in speed and accuracy with the fulfillment of open sales orders.

Also, Intuit is not going to stop with this feature. “Pick” is the first phase of what Intuit wants to update in the inventory workflows in Enterprise.

Intuit is aiming this toward Enterprise customers who are in what they consider to be the mid-segment. The kind of user will probably have 5 to 10 employees, 10,000 feet of warehouse space or less, and may or may not have bin locations or barcodes. There is probably a warehouse manager who is working with employees or possibly with contract workers hired on a need basis. The warehouse manager will have access to QuickBooks but none of the workers doing the picking should be in the system, or even have computer access.

The problem that is being solved is that the warehouse manager needs help in prioritization of the sales orders, as well as needing help with efficient picking. The product, as it stands now, provides features in QuickBooks that can be used to manage sales orders, selects the ones to pick, communicates with the pickers as to what needs to be done, and then takes the information from the pickers to update QuickBooks.

One concept that I had to understand before a lot of this made sense is the difference between a sales order and a pick list. Before now, in QuickBooks, a pick list wasn’t really a separate kind of transaction. It was just a different template that you used to print a sales order in a different format, essentially. With this new feature, we now have some distinct differences between sales orders and pick lists.

The workflow is:

  • Receive sales order
  • Check for fulfillable status and create picklist
  • Send picklist to mobile inventory scanner with a picker assigned
  • Get automatic status updates and track in real time
  • Pack and ship the order
  • Update the sales order and send the invoice to the customer

There is support for multiple locations and serial numbers. I’m going to start off showing the basic system, and then I’ll come back to show how those features are supported later in this article.

Working with Remote Devices

Intuit introduced barcode support in QuickBooks Enterprise V13, but there were many limitations in that release. One of the disappointing shortcomings at that time was that you could not use a remote barcode scanner. Your scanner had to be directly connected to a Windows computer that was running QuickBooks. This meant you would have to either walk around the warehouse lugging a laptop with your scanner, or do all of your scanning in one fixed location. Very limiting!

In addition, integrating those kinds of scanners with that barcode scanning feature in QuickBooks could be very, very tricky. The integration relied on a very odd method of reading the scanner, and I often found that I could not get the scanner to work with some computers.

With QuickBooks 2018 Enhanced Order Fulfillment, Intuit has taken a much more sophisticated approach – one that I’ve found to be very easy to set up and work with. This is a significant improvement!

Note that you do not need a remote device to make the new Enhanced Order Fulfillment process work. You can manage your order fulfillment entirely from the QuickBooks desktop. However, remote devices make this much easier to work with.

There are two kinds of devices that this feature supports: Android-based devices (such as smartphones), and a particular model of barcode scanning mobile computer. The remote app is Android-based, so you won’t be able to use an iPhone at this time.

If you use a generic Android-based device (version 4.4 or later), you won’t have the ability to scan barcodes. You will enter information via the keypad.

Barcode scanning can save time and improve accuracy. At the time that I’m writing this, the only barcode scanning device that is supported is the Zebra (Motorola) MC40 mobile computer, a compact handheld Android-based device that has an integrated barcode scanner. This is a very rugged device that should work well in a warehouse environment. Don’t tell Sam at Intuit, but I’ve dropped the loaner they gave me, several times, and it still is working flawlessly.

Zebra (Motorola) MC40 mobile with integrated barcode scanner

I’m not going to go through the details of how to install the QuickBooks software on this device, as the procedure will most likely be changed by the time this is released for general use. It is a simple process, though.

Intuit will not be selling this scanning device themselves. It will be available from several distributors. I’ve seen prices ranging from around $700.00 to $1200.00 per device (single quantities).

Some important aspects of these devices are:

  • They need to be connected to the Internet, so you will need good WiFi coverage in your warehouse. Intuit has set up an Internet service to manage communications between your QuickBooks installation and the remote device.
  • The devices are readily available in the marketplace.
  • They are very rugged, suitable for warehouse environments.
  • They have an integrated barcode scanner. Just point the top of device at the barcode and press the button.

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About the author

Charlie Russell

Charlie Russell has been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70's, and remembers releasing his first commercial accounting software product when you had an 8-bit microcomputer with one 8 inch floppy disk drive. He has a special interest in inventory and manufacturing software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor with additional certifications for QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise, as well as being a Xero Certified Partner. Charlie started blogging about QuickBooks in 2008 (Practical QuickBooks) and has been the managing editor and primary writer for the Accountex Report (formerly the Sleeter Report) since 2011. Charlie can be reached at [email protected]

Visit his CCRSoftware web site for information about his QuickBooks add-on products. He is also the author of the California Wildflower Hikes blog.

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