Tracking Inventory Quantities
Tracking your inventory items and quantities can be one of the more frustrating parts of running a successful business. ESC tries to make that easier for you by accounting for everything that is purchased and sold, but while still giving you the ability to alter the quantities as needed. Let's take a look at all of the things that can affect your inventory counts.
Before you can begin tracking inventory items in ESC, you'll need to tell ESC what your starting quantities are. You'll do this by heading to Vendors → Receive Items and entering in all items and their quantities that you currently have in stock.
Ordering and Receiving Inventory Items
You'll use the Purchase Order screen in ESC to build lists of items that you need from your vendors. A Purchase Order can be printed or emailed directly to the vendor. A Purchase Order's primary purpose is to track what items you need, what has been ordered and what has been received. A Purchase Order will not affect inventory quantities, costs or prices. However, a Purchase Order can be opened in the Receive Items screen, which is where you'll tell ESC what you are receiving into stock. The Receive Items screen is where you'll enter what items you received, how many of each item was received and how much you paid for them. Receiving Items will increase your quantities - and therefore your asset amounts - as well as adjust the Last Purchase Price and Average Cost of the item that was received.
The Adjust Inventory screen is where you'll head when a quantity is found to be incorrect. The Adjust Inventory screen will allow you to adjust the quantity of a single item, or a large group of items. This is also where you'll head when you've just completed you're physical inventory counts and need to enter the actual quantities into ESC. The Adjust Inventory screen does not allow you to increase the quantity of a Serial item (you'll use the Receive Items screen for that) but it does allow you to decrease the quantity of a single Serial item at a time.
Adding an item to an invoice in ESC will automatically remove that item from your inventory. This is how inventory items can be relieved from stock. Adding items to Quotes or Dispatches in ESC will not affect your stock. If you are performing a large job and need to remove inventory items from stock as they are used, you can create an invoice and use the "On Hold" check box on the invoice to prevent that invoice from affecting Sales reports or your accounting system. You can then continuously add items to that invoice in order to relieve them from stock. The invoice is also where costs are calculated. The current cost of the item will be recorded on the invoice when the item is added and this helps to generate Gross Profit.
Accurately tracking your inventory means knowing where it is at all times. It's common to have a single Main Warehouse and multiple Truck/Van Warehouses. Each time a vehicle removes parts from the Main Warehouse to replenish its own quantities, you'll want to perform a Warehouse Transfer in ESC so that ESC knows where those parts have gone to. This can be very beneficial if Technician A is 10 miles away and needs a particular item that they do not have in their vehicle. They could travel 10 miles back to the Main Warehouse to retrieve the part, or they could travel just 1 mile to another company vehicle that you know has that part in stock. How do you know? Because you opened that part in ESC and were able to view which vehicles had that part on them.
Negatives happen. Whether an item hit an invoice before it was received into stock or an item was sold from a warehouse that it was never transferred to, they are hard to prevent. But ESC does have that ability if you're willing to be strict. If you want to prevent negative quantities in your inventory, head to Company → System Setup → Inventory and select "No" for Allow Negative Quantities. This means that ESC will not allow you to save an invoice if it would cause a negative quantity for any item. You may also select the "Prompt..." option for Allow Negative Quantities so that ESC will warn you, but still allow you to save the invoice.
Returning Parts to a Vendor
It happens more than you would like to admit: you ordered one part and received another. Or the part that you ordered and received is defective. Time to send it back. You can do this by creating a Vendor Credit and Return Receipt. The Vendor Credit screen, found by going to the PO List and clicking Add, is almost identical to the Purchase Order screen, only you're telling the Vendor what they'll be receiving instead of shipping. On the vendor Credit screen, you'll click the Save/Enter Return Receipt screen to add the items to the Return Receipt screen which will tell ESC that they are on their way back. This will remove the quantities returned from your current stock. It is also possible to jump right to the Return Receipt screen under the Vendors menu and skip the Vendor Credit process.
Inventory items added to a customer's Credit Memo will automatically be returned to stock when the Credit Memo is saved. Credit Memo's allow you to process returns, exchanges or refunds for invoices made to customers. A Credit Memo can be created by going to the Invoice List and clicking on Add or directly from the Sales Invoicing screen by going to Activities → Create Credit Memo.