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The 10 Best Tools for Small Business Manufacturers

In a perfect world, you’d have a custom-built ERP system that meets all your business needs without breaking the bank. Unfortunately, it’s not a perfect world, and the cost is still a significant factor for most small businesses. And that’s why business software tools are so important — they provide the functionality and flexibility needed to run day-to-day operations at costs small companies can afford. So firstly:    

What is Manufacturing Software?             

Manufacturing software encompasses tools and cloud-based solutions which can help manufacturers manage specific or cross-department areas of their business, for example shop floor tools or bill of materials software. Here are our 10 picks for the best software for small business manufacturers looking to expand their business operations:   

1) FreeAgent — Accounting & Expenses        

FreeAgent offers cloud accounting software that includes automated invoicing, end-of-month accounting, and bookkeeping. They also offer a manufacturing module that adds inventory tracking and project costing to the mix. Their software requires no setup fees or contracts, and your entire team can access it wherever they are via computer or smartphone. 

2) QuickBooks Online — Accounting & Expenses         

QuickBooks Online offers many of the same services as their desktop product, including time-tracking, project costing, invoice automation, inventory management tools, purchase orders, A/P invoicing capabilities, bank reconciliation reports (which reconcile your bank account transactions against your records), and more. They even offer their Manufacturing & Wholesale edition that can be set up to track inventory, bills of materials, purchase orders, production status, invoicing for finished goods, accounts payable reports (compare vendor payments with purchase orders). 

3) Sage 50 Accounts 2013        

Sage 50 Accounts is another good option for manufacturers looking for a cost-effective ERP solution that’s easy to use with support you can rely on. It includes all the basic modules found in most full-scale ERPs, including raw material tracking, order management including quotes and purchase orders, inventory management, A/P invoicing, and more. 

4) KashFlow            

KashFlow offers a simple yet effective cloud-based ERP solution for small to medium companies that need a range of accounting functionalities without the high costs associated with other software solutions. Their product is very easy to use from an end-user perspective, including features like project costing reports using standard or actual cost methodologies, bank reconciliation reports, VAT returns (including automated VAT return filing), customer billing, and A/P invoice generation capabilities. They also offer a payroll solution if your company doesn’t have the in-house expertise to do it internally. 

5) Sage MAS 90 & 200 2013         

Sage has a full suite of ERP products designed to meet the needs of SMBs, including Sage MAS 90 and 200 (formerly Peachtree Complete Accounting). These solutions are very affordable easy to use yet come with all the standard features found in most ERP modules, including accounts receivable invoicing, purchase orders (including PO routing), general ledger, inventory management (including integration with Sage 50), project costing support for labor and materials tracking along with time entry capabilities, bank reconciliation reports, sales tax reports (based on client location), payroll capabilities for companies that don’t already have it solved internally, plus much more… 

6) QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 2013           

If you’re looking for the highest level of manufacturing functionality in an ERP solution, look no further than Intuit’s flagship product, QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 2013, designed to meet the needs of companies with more complicated requirements, including multi-currency transactions, advanced inventory management (including serial # tracking), production control & scheduling (track raw materials and finished goods). It also includes features like project time tracking (for payroll), purchase order approval routing (based on PO amount), subcontractor costing reports, job cost reporting. 

7) Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013         

If your company has a preference for using Microsoft products as part of their solution set, then perhaps you should consider Dynamics GP 2013 an option as well as it’s loaded with manufacturing-specific features that can be customized to meet most small manufacturers needs, including facilities and equipment tracking, multi-site facilities management capabilities, bill of materials cost allocation, purchase order routing approvals based on PO amounts, paid time off tracking (which ties into the payroll module), direct integrations with Dynamics CRM 2013 and NAV 2013, plus much more… 

8) OTR Global              

Manufacturers need a simple yet effective online store to connect to customers and distribute products and services. OTR’s eCommerce suite of products includes everything you need to put a successful online storefront, including domain name registration, website hosting, inventory management (for both raw materials and finished goods), shopping cart tools, credit card merchant account connections (with recurring billing capabilities), product catalog design & layout tools with configurable pricing tables, multiple payment gateways (PayPal & Google Check-Out), integration with accounting software via the API (including ACH file imports/exports) plus much more… 

9) TaxBrain              

Taxes for small businesses can often be confusing and complicated, requiring detailed information about income levels in different states and countries. TaxBrain is a free online tax calculator that can give business owners the ability to plug in their own income and other expenses (including the cost of goods sold, payroll, employee benefits) and get a calculation on their total estimated taxes for multiple states and countries. 

10) JobBOSS              

JobBOSS is a web-based manufacturing resource planning application that includes support for small businesses with up to 50 users along with multi-site capabilities that include requisition approvals, job costing reports, work order routing, time & attendance tracking, purchase orders based on Work In Process accounting rules (with approval workflow), MES/MOM capabilities built-in for managing inventory transactions across different locations, right through to supplier portals to manage purchase order transactions with suppliers, plus much more… 

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