FieldOne Sky for Microsoft Dynamics CRM contains ability to manage inventory, the capabilities include warehousing, purchasing, adjustments / transfers, selling products via work orders and returns.
The concept of inventory management within Microsoft Dynamics CRM seemed slightly alien to me at first as this is a function I’d typically expect it to reside in the corporate ERP solution rather than within a Customer Relationship Management solution. But here we are talking about inventory in terms of parts that will be related to field sales activity meaning inventory management does form a logical extension of the capabilities of FieldOne Sky. In this post I will aim to explain the concepts related to inventory.
I think it might be worth stressing again that the inventory options are aimed at a field servicing environment and therefore has some limitations. It is also worth noting that I believe anyone who seriously implements these features will want to add some customizations, I will point out some of my views on these along the way.
In this post I will cover;
- Product Set-up
- Purchase receipts
- Adjustments / Transfers
Despite saying that FieldOne inventory has some limitations, don’t let that fool you! It still includes quite a few concepts hence this post will be an overview of available features. Meaning I may return to specific details in future posts.
When defining products in FieldOne sky there are a number of options that may affect inventory management. Including if the FieldOne Product Type, which must be set to inventory to reflect the fact that you wish to maintain inventory levels for this product. It is also worth understanding that the standard out of the box CRM field of “Quantity on hand” does not play any part in the FieldOne Sky inventory process. As inventory levels are maintained on a warehouse by warehouse basis.
A warehouse is any location that contains inventory, this might be the physical building you store stock in or may represent “virtual” warehouses such as field agent’s trucks. It is important not to think of them as just typical physical spaces. Defining a warehouse is done in the administration section of FieldOne Sky and simply involves giving the warehouse a name and optionally adding a more detailed description.
Tip / Suggestion:
A common customization is going to the adding some additional fields to warehouse. You may, for example, want to add the warehouse address and maybe a type.
From the warehouse navigation bar you can select product inventory;
Then within product inventory you can see a list of products contained within this warehouse, including their current stock levels, on order levels etc.
Also, when drilling into each warehouse item you can optionally define the bin and row that this inventory item is stored in. This is useful and will work in many “simple” warehousing situations. But if items are stored at multiple locations within the same warehouse this approach may be restrictive. It might be worth keeping in mind that the facilities offered by FieldOne Sky are providing basic warehouse management to support field activity, this is not a large scale warehousing solution!
Purchasing is used to request and receive products from vendors to replenish stock within warehouses. It involves creating a purchase order, gaining approval and recording delivery of stock using P.O. receipt.
The options to create and manage purchase orders can be found in the FieldOne Sky menu from the main Microsoft Dynamics ribbon.
Below you can see an example of a purchase order created (in draft status) for a particular vendor. Notice that the purchase order can optionally be given a user definable type, this might be useful for grouping purchase orders for report purposes. Also notice the receive to warehouse has been entered to say what location expects to take delivery. And that you can also record (optionally) how placed the order and who requested the stock.
The vendor on a purchase order is actually an account record in CRM. And the vendor sales person is a contact at that account.
Tip / Suggestion:
Out of the box you can define a re-order level but I’d don’t believe this value is actively used anywhere. You might want to create a view of items that are close to or below their re-order level. Or in some circumstances maybe having a workflow to create a purchase order or at least prompt when an order might be needed.
Having saved the purchase order you can then add one or more products to the order. Below I have requested 50 Terracotta pots, notice that the price on the purchase order has defaulted to the unit cost price on the product. This can be changed if required.
When the order is first created it is in draft state, and will need to be approved and submitted.
Should I deploy this capability in a real world situation, the steps in raising a purchase order seems to be “screaming out” for a business process flow to help drive the process. Although this would need to be tailored to match each organisation’s ordering / approval process. Also, out of the box, no option exists to print or email the purchase order. I imagine a common customization is going to be the creation of a purchase order document. Maybe using the new Word Templates. (If / when I make these changes I will add a blog post on the process.)
Purchase Orders Receipts
When a deliver is taken a purchase order receipt is recorded and stock levels automatically incremented. The first step is to create a delivery and associate it with a purchase order. You can also record who received the delivery.
Having saved the delivery “header” you can proceed to add details of the delivery. In this example, you can see that I have taken delivery of 25 pots against the purchase order for 50. So split deliveries are possible.
I haven’t (yet) checked what out of the box relationships exit to support customizations but one I expect to investigate is connected with recording purchase order receipts. As when recording a plit delivery I’d like to find an easy way to see the total on order and total delivered so far. I suspect a rolled up field maybe required to support this. Again I will blog on my solution should I implement this.
Having taken the delivery, returning to the warehouse inventory screen will allows me to see that I now have 25 pots available and on hand (as none are allocated). I can also see that 25 are still on order and due for delivery.
A note on the concept of inventory journals might be useful at this point. Whenever a stock value is adjusted an inventory journal is created as an audit of the transaction. So in this example the qty on order field has been reduced by 25, whilst the qty on hand has been increased by 25. You can see the inventory journals for this purchase receipt below.
Adjustments / Transfers
Inventory adjusts is a feature that allows you to add or subtract quantities of stock from warehouses. This will typically be done following a stock check or to reflect shrinkage.
Inventory transfers allows you to move stock from one warehouse to another. In a field service environment, a common example of this will be transferring parts from a physical warehouse into the truck of a field agent.
The inventory adjustments and transfer options can both be found in the FieldOne Sky ribbon. See below;
To create an adjustment, you first create a “header” record which defined who made the adjustments, who requested them and which warehouse is to be effected.
Once the “header” has been saved you can select the inventory adjustment products option from the ribbon bar and add details for the products to be adjusted.
Below you can see that I have incremented the number of “sheds” I have on hand by two.
It is worth keeping in mind that the quantity for an adjustment can be negative to allow for stock shrinkage.
An inventory transfer works in a VERY similar manner as to an adjustment, expect this time I record the source and destination warehouse in the “header”.
This time creating the inventory adjustment product works in the same manner but will deduct “5” from the source warehouse and add “5” to the destination warehouse.
Viewing the stock transaction journals for this transfer will show two entries, one for each change of stock.