Ask the Experts | Selecting an Inventory Control Program

Question: Can you recommend an inventory control program that works well, is easy to use and not excessively expensive?

Drew Cameron; President, HVAC Sellutions & Energy Design Systems, Inc:

The short answer is no, I cannot recommend an inventory control program. I say that somewhat facetiously in that there’s no real inventory control program that would be a standalone item. You want to control inventory, which is really just a part of accounting, if you will. It’s an asset and you’re tracking the dollars of the inventory, obviously you want to know the parts and pieces that you have in stock. But you’re doing so to read inventory, which hits your balance sheet and then gets expensed to the P&L for cost purposes.

So, it’s really an accounting function. What we’re talking about is having inventory as part of your accounting program. QuickBooks has a light inventory function, but if you’re looking for full dispatch, service control, a purchase order system, inventory control, as well as warehouse inventory, then all of that is going to be a part of your accounting program in the world of HVAC. The ones that we find are the most fully integrated are Successware, Aptora, and Cargas. There are probably a few others out there but those are the ones I have experience with.

One of those programs will give you everything you need to run your business – full-blown accounting, payroll, job costing (which includes inventory), as well as the service management and dispatch side of things. Are those programs easy to use? I think any program is easy to use as you train on it more and they’re not excessively expensive. If you have it and you use the full functionality of it, the system more than pay for themselves because of the control of the inventory, as well as the purchasing. Again, there is no standalone inventory control program that I could recommend.

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