04 December 2005

Accounting software in use, phones

Our accounting software is now in day to day use and we can start to comment meaningfully on it. We chose MYOB over the market leader (Sage) or Quicken.

As one might expect having an accounting package definitely enforces process discipline. Since our processes were very flexible and not at all entrenched this is a relatively easy transition for us and one which most of us are ready for. Some of the things we were not doing well have begun to improve as a result (mainly order fulfillment) and we may get better on the other things (mainly supply chain management) in time.

Not everything is well in the land of MYOB. We are getting a worrying number of workstation lockups. MYOB is a late convert to networked environments and this may be related to the history of how it has evolved from a single workstation product. Each session is issued a session ticket (a lock file) so that we cannot exceed the number of simultaneous user sessions we have paid for (5 in our case) and sometimes a computer is detected as having already had a session ticket issued for it at which point it gets disconnected. The only way to reset this is to shut down all MYOB sessions and delete the lock file on the master workstation. This is irritating and we have yet to identify the reason for it. We are a wired network (or at least the relevant computers are) and so wireless issues are not the cause of this - MYOB is notoriously tricky on wireless networks.

Another area which is causing us problems is getting the forms set up. MYOB can use plain paper forms (i.e. it prints a form onto plain paper which saves a lot of problems) provided the forms are created in a basic editor package which is included in MYOB. It is a very basic editor and very user unfriendly. It is probably the worst thing about MYOB. If I owned MYOB I would concentrate at least half of my product development resources on fixing this. At the moment we are having to rework our purchase order (PO) layouts for the dumb reason that we didn't realise we should go for landscape print formats. This is because us engineers like long product codes whilst the accountants like short product codes - and there are two product codes on each PO: one for the buyer and one for the seller. Oh, and MYOB won't allow wordwrapping of product (item) codes (and it doesn't print a partial code either which is a pain). So we start again with the very stressful process of creating forms, deleting them off the various computers, and reinstalling them. Right now we have landscape POs but still don't have product codes in them - it worked in the sandpit tests but is not in the real world which is causing a bit of head scrathing, and manual code writing.

We finally solved the Skype issue after a bit. It turns out that there is a UK-specific software bug that prevents interoperability between the latest Skype release ( and the latest Olympia Dualphone release (we use their cordless handsets) and once we downgraded the handset then it worked OK. No fix as yet. But bonus points to both Skype and Olympia for having a product support helpline with real people who are a) knowledgeable, b) helpful, c) speak english and d) only two menus away.

The main landlines are irritatingly inaudible. This is something I will try to figure out over the next few weeks. They are sometimes acceptable and sometimes terrible and the pattern doesn't seem to correlate with anything.

Our premises are starting to resemble a real factory again with production lines working and the supply chain in almost full swing. Our suppliers have been really good in helping us out over the last couple of months. All except two that is. It makes a difference to us and we appreciate it.