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The inventory control question again...An idea..

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Geri O'Neil:
I'm sitting here struggling with my home-made paperwork of inventory tracking, repair tracking, and show schedules, and what a mess. There's got to be a better way, so I've come up with an idea.

There have been several inquiries lately about inventory control, including mine and I've come up with something. I've talked to a couple of folks here and I've come to realize that things like HireTrack, RentalDesk, and a couple of others are fine, but waaay too much sugar for a dime for companies like ours. And trying to learn something like Access or FileMaker to the point of making what I'm looking for is out of the question. So I'd like to propose something to the programmer-oriented member or members of the community. How about we come up with an idea for a simple, no-frills inventory-control program and can be written by someone here and offered for sale to the community whose needs it would suit? I'm talking a program that consists of a database of all of the equipment along with the ability to group together items (such as an FX rack or amp rack). Then you would have the ability to "book" an item or groups of items under two categories, either "show" or "rental", with the booking showing up in the database as "unavailable". A repair-tracking setion would be helpful (what the gear is, what's wrong, who's repairing it, tracking numbers, status in the inventory, etc.)For our needs, it doesn't have to have the value or depreciation listed. A "preventative maintinence" schedule would be cool, but not necessary. It doesn't need accounting capabilities. Personel info would be cool, but not necessary, as would trucking. Client info and/or sales info wouldn't be necessary, either. This would NOT take the place of HireTrack or such programs, but for smalled companies just needing to track where the gear is going, it would be fine. I still haven't found anything commercially available that fits this wish list. Maybe it could be written in modules such as sales, rentals, shows, trucking, personel, but then it would get complicated and encroach on the larger programs.

If this sounds like a doable idea, let's toss some things around. If not, let it crash and burn, won't hurt my feelings.
Gotta run, but I'll get back to this and see what we think...or don't...

(edited for speedy typing, girlfriend rang the dinner bell!)

Geri O

Jonathan Woytek:
I get paid to do stuff like this as a day job (well, not exactly anymore, but I still do this for pay as a consultant for some folks).  I think it might be interesting to take this on, but I'm going to need some specific help.  

I do have my own little sound company, and I'd love to have something like this--at the very least for tracking my own inventory and "cost to rent", etc.  I've been considering doing something like this for myself a lot lately, but haven't had the real push to do anything about it, figuring that I'd end up reinventing a part of the wheel that's already been invented for people like me.  

That said, I'm not big enough to do multi-part rentals, deal with trucking, etc.  That's a part of the business where I'd need help.  

Geri, if you're getting enough interest, I think that something like this would be worthwhile.  Before we could go very far, we would need to define a concrete set of requirements for "version 1", then we can grow from there.  The requirements will help to drive the decision on what base platform to use for this system, too.  For instance, if a lot of people on both the Mac and PC side want to use something like this, then Filemaker is one of the more obvious choices.  If people using this would be primarily PC-based, Access has its advantages and is easily scalable to larger systems.  If people want cross-platform happiness without the overhead of needing a filemaker runtime or Access, we could roll our own from scratch in Java.  

If you are getting sufficient interest, I'll create a wiki where we can work on the requirements collaboratively.  

One of the primary things that I think we should consider is whether this should be free or pay.  Personally, I don't care.  However, if we are going to do it for pay or any sort of fee, then we're going to have to work-out how that would work, too.  


Geri O'Neil:
I thought I had mentioned the pay part in the original post, but no, I certainly don't expect someone or someones to write something like this for free. I was saying that let's have some ideas about what the program should be capable of, of course to not re-invent the wheel as you mentioned. Then, maybe the program could be offered for sale to the community members who would find it useful. Maybe even a stepping stone to the larger more involved programs. I don't know if this could approached like the Lab Sub project where Tom Danley so graciously provided his time and talents (not to mention possible competition to his future livelihood!) to make the Lab Sub project possible. hat woudl be nice, but I've no knowledge of the amount of work it would take (a LOT, to be sure), so I would not suggest that someone do it for free.

Geri O

Tim McCulloch:

I'd be happy to contribute to the "wish list."  I'm not a DB programer, but I know what some of the things to track might be and how they relate to other things.

Count me in.

Tim Mc

Geri O'Neil:
Since I truly believe that the interest is out there ("If you program it, they will come"? ), I'll start the "official wish list",

Naturally, a maser database to work from. Info such as make, model, serial number, company inventory number. It would have a status listing, such as "available", "unavailable", "Out for repair", "Time for PM", etc.

A "group" database that would be items made up of individual components. A group could be an effects rack, amp rack, or maybe even a console, its power supply, and an EZ-Tilt. I see how this part could get confusing, so it might need some special treatment that anyone might come up with. I imagine that with some folks, the group's contents could change from week to week. That's not a big thing with us at the moment, our racks stay prett consistent.

Once this database is created, you can create a "booking". A booking could be classed as a "show" or a "rental". In either case, the listing would make a change of the item's status in the master database. I like the idea of bar-coding, but that might be too complicated and I do want to keep the program simple.

That's my start of things. I might add or change things as we go.

Geri O


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