Grower Quick Start Guide


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From PlantX.net

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This guide shows you where to jump in and get going. It describes the minimum amount of information that you need to start order entry and invoicing.

Contents

Build The Foundation From Materials

PlantX.net is about plants, so the first thing to tell PlantX.net is what plant materials you sell. The material list acts as the foundation to the rest of system. It is the core information that identifies a plant in your inventory, and the focal point of the facts and pictures that make up your website.

At a minimum, all you need is the botanical and common name. There is a formal way of entering the botanical name that allows it to be broken apart by PlantX.net into its components; genus, specie, variety and cultivar. The Material Window | Name Tab allows you to edit both the name as a whole, or the individual components. (Follow the on-screen example in the PlantX.net Materials window.)

It is important that you don't include size information in the material name. This information is entered into the next part, the catalog. The material is entered separately from the size, shape, etc. (which are known as the attributes), so that you can create the material once, and then assign as many different attributes as you like, for the different sizes and shapes that you sell.

See the Materials reference for more detailed information.

Catalog What You Sell

The next step is to enter the catalog. At a minimum you will want to enter two things:

  • Attributes (size, form, grade, etc.)
  • Pricing

Attributes

Having entered your list of materials, you are now ready to add catalog items. The material you sell comes in various sizes and shapes, or other attributes that make it stand apart. When you first add a catalog item, you select the material and it appears with <No Attributes>. The next step is to use the Attributes Tab to pick and choose those attributes that describe the item.

The next common question is How many attributes should I include? The rule of thumb is to use the fewest number of attributes possible. There are two rules to keep in mind:

  • Pricing Rule: if you have two different plants you sell at different prices, they must be two different catalog items. Therefore, you must include some attribute to distinguish between the two.
  • Production Rule: Supplies are often tracked in inventory that don't yet having pricing; they are not ready so they don't have a price. So if there are two different sets of plants in the field, and must be tracked separately, you must include some attribute that can distinguish one lot from another.

The most common attributes are container size in "gallons" (shown with just a # because they are not really gallons). The next most common attributes are height, width, and caliper.

For faster data entry, once you enter one plant of a given material, assign the attributes, and then just use the Copy Copy button button. The Copy Copy button button will make a copy of the catalog item, then all you need to do is change attributes. Repeat this until you have the various sizes. You can also use the Create Initial Catalog Items option.

See the Materials reference for more detailed information.

Pricing

PlantX.net allows you to have up to five different pricing lists for inventory. Price lists typically equate to customer type, e.g. wholesale, retail, preferred, etc. The price list names can be set in the Member Settings. Likewise, each customer account can be assigned their specific pricing.

Use the Batch Change... feature in the Inventory Window to change the price of common sizes. Often times large numbers of catalog items share the same pricing, e.g. all two gallon shrubs are the same price. Open the Batch Change, select the catalog items that share the same pricing, enter the pricing and click OK. You will note that you can change the sort order of the catalog items, in this case on size, so that you can select the whole lot and change it in a single click.

See the Member Settings reference for more detailed information.

Other Considerations

  • Check the Chart of Accounts to determine if you have all of the revenue accounts for your catalog items. Most use the default Sales revenue account, but you might want different income accounts for "Tree Sales", "Shrub Sales", "Liner Sales", etc. If you elect to use specific sales accounts, you must assign them to specific catalog items. Use the Batch Change... feature to save time.

See the Chart of Accounts reference for more detailed information.

Where Your Inventory Is Located

Next, it is time to define where your inventory is located. Use the Action | Maintain | Locations menu option to open the Locations Window. Use the window to add the names given to the locations where your inventory resides.

Beware of TMI (too much information). Keep the number of locations to a minimum. Some have attempted to chart their locations row by row, but unless you have a small inventory, it can create a nightmare managing such fine detail. Think about the reports where the information will print. When you allocate supplies to an order, will you want to do it row by row? Or will the lot or greenhouse be enough? When you print the report to pull the order, how specific do you need to be for the field staff?

To get started faster, start with fewer locations. You can always use the Inventory Window drag-and-drop feature to move quantities to more specific locations later.

See the Locations reference for more detailed information.

When Your Crops Are Ready

Crops describe when inventory is ready, or in a more general sense it represents a larger, logical grouping of supplies. Like locations, use Action | Maintain | Crops to maintain the crop list. Common crop names are things like "Fall 2012" or "Spring 2013".

The crop name is generally used for internal use, whereas the crop's Report Title is the way it appears to customers, on the website or on reports. Crop names are generally unique, but you can give many different crops the same Report Title. There is even a drop down list of common report titles so they can conveniently share the same title. Crops that share the same report title have their quantities added together and are shown in the column on the inventory availability reports.

In effect, you can make a number of crops for specific periods by giving them a PURPOSE+YEAR name, but then combine them together at some later time for reporting. Often times current crops, and prior unsold crops, will appear under a report title like "Ready Now". Other future crops where customers are free to book orders are listed under their available time frame like "Summer 20XX" or "Fall 20XX". Finally, other crops are related to production, like a global "Production" crop or "Prod 2020".

Again, as a general rule of thumb, keep the number of crops to a minimum. Most only have 1-4 active (not hidden) crops. On the contrary, some flower inventories may have crops coming due weekly. If you have to have a large number of crops, be sure they are short lived. They should have a manageable lifetime; unless they are for long-term production, crops should be used less than a year, typically in a season. They should be created, supplies added to the crop, allocated to orders, shipped and then hidden to get them out of the way.

Crops carry a setting that determines if they are available for sale. There is a check box for making crops available, and once checked or unchecked, it becomes shown/hidden on reports and the website. Therefore, you should have enough crops so that you can include or exclude portions of inventory independently.

See the Crops reference for more detailed information.

The What, Where, and When of Inventory

Inventory is just a general word for keeping a tally of the supplies found in inventory. To adequately document this information, we need to know the What, Where and When of the supply. The steps above have prepared us to do just that. When you add a supply you must provide the catalog item, location and crop.

Most supplies are added from the Inventory Window, which requires you to select a catalog item in order to use the Supplies and Orders tab. Selecting the catalog item answers the What question. When you click the Add Supply Add Supply button, the dialog requires three things; 1) which crop (When), 2) which location (Where), and 3) the quantity of plants in the supply. There are other fields that can further describe the supply, but these three are the only ones required.

Visit each catalog item and use the Add Supply Add Supply button to create a new supply. Once you have the supplies entered, you can print your availability reports. You can also visit your website at any time to see your live availability. Note: At least one crop must be marked as available to see the supplies listed on your website.

See the Supplies reference for more detailed information.

This Only Leaves Who: The Customer

All that is left is to enter the customers. This can be done all at once during your setup, or you can enter new customers as you enter their first order. If you want to set up web users, so your customers can enter their own orders through your website, you will need to get the customers entered into PlantX.net.

When you enter a customer manually, it only requires one thing: their name. The Add Customer option conveniently prompts you for the name, contact name, and address, but only the name is required. Filling in all three will 1) create the customer account, 2) add the first contact record, and 3) add the first address record. You can then visit the respective Customer Window tabs and add more contact and address records.

To speed data entry, there is a batch import feature that can import a comma separated values (CSV) file. This is a common format that can be exported from an older system or spreadsheet and then imported into PlantX.net. The import process walks you through the steps of selecting the CSV file, identifying and matching the columns, and then it uploads the information to PlantX.net.

You may wish to inspect the payment terms for each customer before you start entering orders. There is a batch update for customers that lets you pick and choose like customers and bulk-change the payment terms.

See the Customers reference for more detailed information.

At this point, PlantX.net is ready to take orders.

About Orders

This section is a brief description of two concepts that may help you better understand the role orders play in the PlantX.net system. It also describes how to use the order's status to keep track of where an order is at in the process.

You Have Supplies, They Have Demands

When you or your customer enter orders into PlantX.net, you are essentially recording your customer's demands. Orders record the catalog items the customer wants and how many of each. Note: They don't pick and choose from your individual supplies (the crop and location), they only get to choose from your catalog.

At first, this concept might be vague, but keep it in mind moving forward. It is a concept that separates PlantX.net from most other inventory programs. Most other programs assume that if you list 10 items in inventory, the next customer that enters an order for 10 items and pays for it will get all 10 items. As you are no doubt familiar, nursery customers don't get those items without approval; they can only demand them. PlantX.net supports the extra process and control of allocating your supplies to the given customer demands.

Order Promotion

The order status is there to help you keep track of the order's progress. As you move the order through the process, you must change the order status to help track progress. There is no set order and you don't have to use all of statuses. In fact, some orders go from New/Submitted straight to Invoiced at certain times of the year.

  • New vs Submitted - They mean the same thing, mostly. It means the order is new, but New means that a staff member entered the order, and Submitted means that it was entered by the customer through the website.
  • Acknowledged - Used to show that an Order Acknowledgement report was created and sent. Not often used because most skip ahead to Confirmed.
  • Confirmed - Like Acknowledged, it is a milestone that indicates an Order Confirmation was sent to the customer. Note: It also has the added effect of permitting the customer to see the confirmed quantities on the website.
  • Accepted - Some procedures and policies require that the confirmation report be accepted by the customer before the order continues moving to the next process.
  • Partial Shipped - Indicates some of the order has shipped but not all.
  • Shipped - Indicates the order has been completely shipped.
  • Received - Some orders may require that outside material be brought in before the order can be fulfilled. This status is assigned to show the order is on hold and waiting.
  • Invoiced - The order has been invoiced. This status is typically the final status of the order. Often times orders are left in the Invoiced status until the end of the "season" so that it gets included in reports that pull their information from "current" orders.
  • Hidden - Often performed at the end of the season, large batches of orders will be marked as hidden, which merely means they don't show in normal operation, e.g. they won't show in the Inventory Window. Most windows will have a View Menu option to show hidden orders.
  • Canceled - These are orders that terminated as unfulfilled.

The order statuses can be changed in bulk, typically at the end of the season, by using the Orders Window. Select any number of orders that should share the same status and use the right mouse button to select the new status. The selected orders will be updated.

Take Orders

Having explained how PlantX.net is unique, it is also just like any other inventory software, in that you have to enter the orders. The catalog item is selected, along with the desired quantities. Pricing, discounts and the customer's retail information can be adjusted for each line item. General info about payment terms, order classification and shipping details are all there.

The order items can be maintained from two different Order Window tabs. The Order Items Tab is a general, overall view of the order items. Data entry can be done one at time from this view, but you might find the Entry Tab to be a bit faster. The Entry Tab allows you to browse the catalog (or quick search) to find the item to add, double-click it and enter the quantity, pricing, etc.

After the order is entered, you might print an Order Acknowledgement report to show your customer their order was received and recorded. The acknowledgement report only shows the quantities ordered (demanded).

See the Orders reference for more detailed information.

Fulfill Their Demands

Once the order is entered by either the staff or the customer, you must now determine how much the customer will receive. This is done by allocating your supplies to their demands. This is best done from the Order Window | Allocation Tab.

As you select an order item, PlantX.net lists the available supplies. If one of the supplies is highlighted, it then shows any amounts already allocated to the order. If there aren't any, and you want to allocate, just click the Add Allocation Add Allocation button. The add feature will automatically prompt you to allocate to total quantity ordered, but you can change the amount, if needed. (For instance, if the ordered quantity is more than what is left in the supply.) If you wish to give the entire ordered amount to the customer, just press enter; otherwise, adjust the allocation amount first.

Once the order is allocated, print an Order Confirmation report to show the customer not only what they ordered, but also the amounts you have allocated to them. Change the order status.

See the Inventory Allocation reference for more detailed information.

Build The Load(s)

Once the supplies are allocated to the ordered items, you can then go directly to the invoicing step and create an invoice for the whole order. Often times though, orders are rather large and must be broken into smaller loads and shipped. Even if the load is small enough to be a single load, if you want to use the trucking (bill of lading) feature, you will still need to create a load. Use the Load Manager Tab to build loads for shipping.

If everything allocated can fit on a single load, select all of the allocated supplies that belong in the load. Click the Add Load Add Load button, give the load a name, and press enter to continue. If there was no load with the provided name, one will be created, and the allocations will all be assigned to the load. If the full amount allocated cannot fit, select the allocated plants that won't fit, select the Split Load Split Load button, and then enter the amount to split off. You can give then either enter a different load name or <None> to simply remove them from the load. You may have to create a new load for the remaining plants later.

Once the load is complete, an invoice can be created (or updated) with the loaded amounts. You might promote the order status to Partial Shipped, Shipped, or Invoiced.

Different Destination

If a single order is being broken into several loads, each load may have a different destination. From the Order Window | Loads Tab, each load can be fine-tuned by entering a different shipping address, freight amounts, and whether they should be billed.

See the Loads reference for more detailed information.

Load The Truck

Once loads are created, they can then be assigned to a truck. First, you will need a truck to put the loads on. Go to the Trucks Window and add a truck. Once the truck is created, it can then have any number of loads assigned. Load can be assigned from either the Order Window | Load Tab or the Unassigned Loads Tab in the Trucks Window.

Each load assigned to the truck will have at least two stops created: one for the pickup and the other for the drop off. If the loads share the same pickup address, which is often the case for product shipped from the nursery, PlantX.net combines the duplicate entries. All you need to do is assign sequential numbers to the stops to put them in order. For example, the first stop would be a pickup at the nursery, the next stop would be a drop at customer shipping address #1, followed by a drop at customer #2, etc. You decide the order of the stops.

Fill in any remaining trucking information and then print a Bill of Lading report. If the load has been shipped, return to the order and use the Order Window menu option Post Load Shipped. This assigns a shipped date to the individual allocations. Posting the allocations as shipped changes the computed shipped and on-hand quantities shown in inventory. Posting allocated amounts as shipped also acts as a lock to prevent accidental changes to inventory after the fact. If drastic changes are required to a posted load, it must first be "un-shipped" in the system. Select the allocations, use the Change Ship Date Change Ship Date button and then just clear the date.

See the Trucks reference for more detailed information.

Finish The Transaction

The order has been fulfilled, loads marked as shipped, and the order status adjusted accordingly. The accounting department (or person) can now use the Orders Window to filter and list all of the orders that need an invoice. The order is opened and the menu option Order | Create or Update Invoice is selected.

When an order or individual load is complete and ready to be invoiced, the Create/Update Invoice feature will ask the scope of what you intend to invoice. Select either "Entire Order" or an individual load by name. Next, PlantX.net will prompt with a list of existing invoices. This allows you to pick a prior invoice and update it. If this is the first time through the process, typically you will just press the New button to continue.

The newly created or updated invoice will appear in the Invoice Window. The invoice can then be printed from the menu option Invoice | Print Invoice. You can also elect to export to QuickBooks if you are using that feature.

Return to the order and change the status to Invoiced. Some will change the status directly to Hidden because there is nothing left to do with the order. Leaving the order status at Invoiced until the end of the year or season can make some reporting easier, e.g. you can print a report from orders that are invoiced, rather than sifting through all orders that are hidden.

See the Invoice reference for more detailed information.

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