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Postings here will focus mainly on Advanced Accounting software updates, tips, and related topics. They will also include general comments relating to troubleshooting PC/Windows/network problems and may also include reference to our other software products and projects including any of our various utilities, or to the TAS Premier programming language. We considered setting up separate blogs for different topics so that users/others could subscribe to topics mostly aligned with their interests, but decided that it would be better to keep things simple since some topics cross over into others. We would nonetheless welcome your feedback/input in this regard. Our web site URL is Call us at 800-648-6258 or 801-277-9240. We also maintain so that older Business Tools users in particular have a greater chance to find us.


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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Auto build when transferring a quote

Bill of materials (BOM) is a standard module included within the integrated Advanced Accounting software.   In addition to generating a build  of a finished or assembled product type from within the BOM module, the software has also long supported an "auto[matic] build" feature from within sales order entry whereby a build could be initiated right at the point of entering a line item.   For items that may involve little or no assembly such as kits that may have already been packaged (or that can be quickly assembled as part of the shipping process) but not yet formally built in the accounting system, this provides a quick and easy way to create units on hand that then can be reserved via the sales order module, and placed on a sales order for very fast order processing.

Recently a customer who is a heavy user of the BOM module and who also most commonly builds most of its items from "auto builds" (when entering sales orders) also wanted the ability to initiate a build right at the point of transferring a quote from a sales order.   This capability now exists and will be available in future releases.   This ability is also sometimes referred to as "building on the fly."

Just as when auto building from a sales order line, when building at the point of transferring a quote, the user has the ability to print a build order, and when building, the actual amounts used can be adjusted. 

While adding this capability into the quotes module might have on the surface seemed simple in just moving existing sales order entry logic into the quote transfer program, in fact it turned out to be extremely complex due to the many subtle differences.   The primary reason for the additional complexity relates to the fact that the auto build is being initiated in a very different overall place since the user is not interacting with a single line item entry when transferring a quote, and the decision logic that then occurs has many non-obvious implications.

Further the user may at first to decide to build, but then either not build all of the units or build a lower number.   And there are different circumstances involving whether the full quantity can be built or a smaller number (or none at all).

In addition to the logic issues involving when transferring a quote and in the extensive testing that we conducted over a month's time, we added a capability that the availability logic had never supported:  the ability to tell the user how many units of an item could be built  if all of the units being ordered could not be built.   We found this necessary just to be able to more quickly determine whether logic changes were working; and it should be highly beneficial to all BOM module users.

Another issue related to the fact that the user needed much more "messaging" information. When prompted about building an a item in sales order entry, the user would know exactly what item the message was referring to since they were working with it on-screen.   This is not true however when transferring an entire quote to a sales order where the user is not directly at that point interacting with line items and the line items normally do not even need to be displayed.

Advanced Accounting is multi-location driven in terms of its inventory unit processing.  Builds therefore occur at a "location" (which can simply a "blank" location or a named location; if necessary items can be separately transferred from one location to another when the finished item is being built).   When all of the units cannot be built at the time of sales order entry or when being transferred to a quote, the user will now receive the prompt:

"Would you like to determine what the maximum number of units are that can be built at this location?"

If responded to in the affirmative, then the program will make that determination and then allow the user to build that quantity (with the remainder, if all or some successuflly built, being placed on backorder).

The "auto build" flag, as in sales order entry, is also a trigger for initiating a build from a quote.  Users who never want to auto build therefore can specify that they do not want to be prompted to build in this fashion if desired.   This option is established in BM-I  Set configuration.   Items that are not available as units on hand at the location will then simply be placed on the sales order as units on backorder.

The new "maximum number that can be built" calculation functionality will benefit both the "auto build" and normal build/unbuild processes alike:

Auto build, i.e. builds initiated from:

SO-A Enter/Change Sales Orders (which can also be reached in other ways)
QC-B Transfer Quotes (which can also be initiated after saving a quote)

All builds:

BM-E  Print To-Build order
BM-F  Build/un-build process

Many users make heavy use of Advanced Accounting's BOM or BM module (and therefore ultimately BM-F).  Consequently, the BM-F build program has received considerable attention by us over the years.  We have been making programming updates to the standard BOM build/unbuild program since 1997 (after working with its earlier incarnations from the early 90's in even older versions).  In 2007 we first converted it to a graphical (true Windows form-based) program.  Extensive changes were made in 2009 to deal with negative unit and average costing problems that prior attempts had not fully resolved, and those efforts have proven to be quite successful.   In 2013, the entire recursive logic routine was re-examined and ultimately significant changes made to solve a resource allocation problem with builds deeper than two or three levels (builds can be up to nine levels deep) and a large amount of testing occurred with an end user's data involving complex  and deeply nested assemblies.  In the process of the 2013 work, significant user status bar information tracking each step in the build process was added since it was essential for troubleshooting, and that work remains in the program as a helpful aid for both us and the end user.

*The JC (job cost), BOM (bill of material) and POS (point of sale) were originally add-on modules starting with version 4.03 and in later versions 5.0, 5.1, 6.0, 6.1 and currently 7i included as standard.

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