Fishbowl software is an Inventory Management System that interfaces with QuickBooks. It offers a full range of inventory management tracking and fulfillment activities including Bill of Materials, Manufacturing Work Orders, Finished Goods, Vendor Interface, and Sales Order Processing. While the company advertises that it is integrated, in reality it is a batch interface that posts to QuickBooks at whatever intervals you choose. This necessitates a regular reconciliation between Fishbowl and QuickBooks.
Fishbowl offers an affordable solution to small and mid-sized companies that need a software solution but don’t want to pay the significant cost and ongoing fees associated with most enterprise solutions. The advantages of Fishbowl are:
- Relatively Inexpensive
- Affordable Ongoing Technical Support
- Excellent Installation Training Available
- Extremely Flexible Software – Handles Most Inventory Situations
- Easy to Learn If Familiar With General Inventory Management Concepts
- Manages Multiple Locations
The key to a successful Fishbowl Software Installation is significant upfront planning. I cannot emphasize this enough. Because Fishbowl Software is so flexible, there really are very few right and wrong ways to set up the system. It is totally customizable to any client warehouse operation. The only issue is how many steps you’ll need to accomplish building inventory and stocking the shelves. For example, there are a variety of ways to handle out-sourced manufacturing including treating parts as a service or treating interim parts as stocked inventory. The issue becomes what process to follow and how the system posts to QuickBooks that will determine how to set up your parts efficiently.
Part of the planning process should include the Installation Training that Fishbowl software offers as an add-on package. Personally, I think it’s worth every penny. While it is certainly possible to install the software without their training, I advise against it. The original set up of the Bill of Materials is extremely critical; it will dictate all of your other decisions regarding processes and how Fishbowl Inventory will post the accounting entries.
If the Installation Training is purchased, the training and support team at Fishbowl software travels on site to the customer offices for 2 days. Their team is extremely professional and gives substantial up front preparatory work for the client. They understand their software in depth.
The two days includes outlining the clients business and processes in detail, brainstorming different ways to handle specific inventory issue (i.e. outsourced manufacturing processes), the actual physical set up of the software files and specific hands on training for each of the different staff members for each of the different modules. When the Fishbowl software team is finished, the client should be operational, running the software and managing their inventory.
The largest misunderstood area of any implementation, and certainly the Fishbowl software implementation, is the amount of time that is required to run an accurate inventory system. Many clients think that when the software is installed their staff will either have significant extra time or that they can save money by not staffing the accounting department with full time support. In reality, there is probably more time required to maintain an accurate inventory system. There will be additional time necessary to reconcile Fishbowl Inventory to the QuickBooks file. While there should not be any differences, there is a process that needs to occur on a daily basis to make sure everything posts correctly. The real benefits are more accurate records which result in better business decisions and the ability to meet sales orders.
Fishbowl software represents a real solution to many clients inventory needs and should be considered when suggesting solutions.Written by: Nancy Brzezniak TGG Accounting