Manager had its origin 10 years ago when Cairns-based CCW Cabinet Works, now with a staff of 50, was looking for a software program to manage a growing business where every job was different. The company found there was nothing out there for them.
Developing a system from a builders’ estimating package, the company worked out how to broaden it beyond estimating, integrating the software with the company’s CAD and CNC programs. The software eventually became Manager and is now marketed and serviced in NZ and Australia by Planit. We spoke to several NZ firms using the software to track sales and production.
Manager is an integrated business management tool and control system designed for manufacturers of all sizes. The program accurately monitors the progress of each job or work order by material, consumption and labour tasks and times, allowing the user to plan and track scheduled start, finish, production, release dates and shipping dates.
Its planning function synchronises lead times with work order start times, schedules work orders with job tracking, provides job status and due dates and oversees job status tracking.
Manager easily tracks job profit progress through each job, uses a bar-code scanner facility to capture hours, and offers a range of reports including sales, win/loss, and labour costs on jobs at each work centre.
A recent adopter of Manager in New Zealand is Nelson-based The Sellers Room, a cabinet making company that uses the system to prepare accurate quotes and track all its jobs as they progress through the factory. Supplying kitchens across the top of the South Island and commercial fi touts nationwide, The Sellers Room has found it “a fantastic product”, according to director of technology and operations Craig Pengelly.
The company, which employs 25 people, previously used a number of different programs including DOS software to prepare quotes and an off-the-shelf accounting package. Manager replaced all these programs. “We didn’t want to have three products – one each for design, accounts and tendering. We needed an integrated package,” Craig said. “With Manager working in tandem with Planit’s Cabinet Vision, we have that. Manager is a comprehensive program that can extract design data from Cabinet Vision as well as do all our number crunching. It estimates costs, labour required and materials needed, giving us a dollar figure on the job. We have far more accuracy in quoting. Manager also allows us to monitor the progress of a job through the factory. That’s very important to us. We can follow the job continuously and ensure it’s on schedule. Staff can check their own performance.”
The program facilitates on-line scanning of components, using bar codes. The Sellers Room has five scanning stations, with the bar codes holding vital information including the list of duties within the work order.
In the final stages of the production process, Cabinet Vision and Manager work “wonderfully well” with the company’s flatbed router, according to Craig. “Clients notice the speed of turnaround. Once the drawing is done in Cabinet Vision, we can complete the job in hours with much less manpower required. It’s a fantastic product. There’s no doubt about that. A lot of management software is outof-the-box, but not Manager. We were able to customise it exactly to meet our needs. By changing the way it reports, we expressed our own vision for the product.”
When configuring Manager for accounts and invoicing, Craig wanted the program to have a staff interface, so that operators could access the data themselves instead of going through him. “As a result of our feedback, the interface was developed for Manager and it was available to us within eight months.”
New Plymouth based Jones & Sandford purchased Manager three years ago, using it initially for estimating and quoting but quickly extending its use to purchasing, labour tracking and job tracking.
“It’s very good software,” says Production Manager Dave Roskilly, “very good at costing and very good at back costing. It links well with Cabinet Vision, we can quickly see what happened at any stage of the production process and alter future quotes accordingly. We also now use it for ordering and tracking stock levels meaning we can quickly check what’s in stock without having to look physically.” “I liked it initially because it was easily confi gurable to our needs and I continue to like it as I learn more about it’s possibilities. It’s apparent when speaking to other users that we are all using different parts in different ways.
A recent training session with Graham Rutter who came out from Australia earlier this year was great and showed me a couple of areas I am keen to develop including a ‘load list’ function which via bar coding allows you to track everything as it goes out the gate.”
Also in New Plymouth, Kitchen Designz needed to systematise a growing business, so installed Manager early in 2009. “It’s given us the capacity for tracking stock, both inwards and outwards. It also prepares our jobs and quotations,” said Dan Holmes, owner of the company that markets customised flat panels and other cabinetry all over the North Island. Kitchen Designz draws its cabinetry in Planit’s Cabinet Vision, then exports this information into Manager. From there the orders for materials are placed, incoming goods monitored, and the job tracked until it leaves the factory. “Manager is a complete system that is offering what we need,” Dan said.
Kitchen Creators of Paraparaumu and New Plymouth purchased Manager software to find a better way of tracking cost and time, and to have better analysis tools. “The system is user-friendly and very comprehensive. We’ve customised the reports and quotes to work for us,” said Kitchen Creators co-proprietor Craig Wattam. “The reporting is extensive and incredibly helpful for tracking sales and quotes, checking production times, analysing expenses, and tracking and reordering stock, among other things. The reports enable us to quote more effectively and stay on top of sales and expenses and know the profi t margin on each job. Manager is also very good at keeping track of stock levels and has the ability to notify us when we need to order more stock. This gives us better cash fl ow and allows the staff to concentrate on other things.”
Greg Harman Joinery, which serves the Hawkes Bay area, also uses Manager for tracking jobs. “We know exactly where they are in the factory. As well, the program manages our inventory, telling us for instance how many drawers are available and how many are ordered,” said proprietor Greg Harman. “Bar coding is the next thing that we will bring in.” He said that Manager benefits the customer by reducing the time taken for quoting to five minutes, as opposed to about an hour before.
Thames Joinery is another cabinet maker that has professionalised its operations by replacing factory-drawn spreadsheets with Manager. “Once we’ve prepared a quote using the program, and the customer has confirmed the job, it is a simple ‘press of a button’ to create an order. We can then print it out and fax it away to our supplier,” said proprietor Bruce Fulton. “We also do back costing on Manager to see what the margin was for each job and what we can look at improving on, production-wise, on the factory fl oor. The program is really good and I’d definitely recommend it.”
Manager is supported in New Zealand by Philip Smith of Planit NZ who is able to call on the expertise of his Australian counterparts as required and in particular Graham Rutter who has been extensively involved in installing and training the users of Manager in New Zealand.
JOINERS Magazine September 2010 page 38