Hi, I'm overwhelmed with the choices available in the world of business software. I simply don't have the time to wade through hundreds of choices. One option I'm currently considering is building a database program from scratch, but that feels like re-inventing the wheel.
We manufacture analytical instrumentation - our revenue is derived from three main areas:
1) Sale of new instruments
2) Repair of existing instruments, and
3) Sales of parts and consumables.
I need a very simple package to replace our current database which is from the 20th century. I would like the ability to issue a quotation to customers using a fairly straightforward interface, then convert that to an invoice.
The only wrinkle is that each instrument is shipped with a unique serial number which needs to be tracked when it comes back for repair. Each instrument has a very limited number of attributes (5-10) which can be tracked as discrete items (or even in a notes field)
I also need the ability for this software to integrate with Outlook - just for sending the quotes. We currently send quotes from a shared Exchange email account, so the ability to generate a quote from a database (or web based) template would be easier than our current process (which is a set of Word templates).
Also, we do not currently have an easy way to issue a PDF invoice. It would be great to generate an invoice in the same manner.
I would like the ability to integrate with Quickbooks in the future but don't need anything sophisticated... for now, just a field that can be filled out with "Paid date" is sufficient.
I don't need any kind of inventory tracking for now. I don't need production planning. I don't need purchasing. I don't need to integrate with an online shopping cart. I don't need to integrate with a shipping system.
The one thing that is critical is the ability to enter a serial number for an instrument shipped, then be able to track the history of that serial number as it comes back for repairs.
Most of this can be done through notes fields. I can do a lot of the setup work. We do not have a server, so I'm not interested in a lot of backend hardware... so a cloud based platform might be the way to go (unless the database can live on a NAS).
One of the main problems is that we have users here who have very limited computer skills. I checked out [url removed, login to view] - and while that's fine for me - I need something super simple for the others that generate quotes. The [url removed, login to view] interface would be daunting for someone in their 70s with no computer skills.
Does anyone have any ideas? This project is just for the selection process. I'm willing to pay for someone to recommend something - ideally you will have implemented 5-10 of these different packages so you have an idea of which one might be right for us.
For final budget, I'm looking for something that sits between the beginner level ($100 to $500) and the super duper Great Plains style system that will cost $20,000. In other words, find me a solution that's going to run about $2000 to $5000.
Basically I'll pay someone who knows what they're doing to grab some selections and present them to me. That will be defined as the deliverable. If I implement your suggestion, I may hire you for the implementation if you can do it. I'll pay a bonus if we end up using your suggestion, even if you don't help with the implementation.
I'm attaching a screenshot of what we use so you can see just how old our current system is. It's embarrassing but it's stupidly simple and it works.
I don't want to have to purchase a SQL server)... or CRM or super basic ERP packages...
U.S. / Canada freelancers are favored due to time zone