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Activity Feed Forums Software Discussion General Software Topics Shop Management Software, what would you advise?

  • Ruel Maxwell

    Member
    January 30, 2020 at 5:54 am

    Guys I’ve been on a search lately for a cost-effective shop management software. I’ve so far come across Clarity Software, Sign Tracker, Corebridge, Cyrious, Shopvox, Estimate Software, Printavo and Oracle Netsuite. What are your thoughts what do you use and recommend?

    Haven’t had a demo on Corebridge, Oracle or Clarity-Software yet but I’ve pretty much had demos on the rest. Estimate is definitely out it’s not worth the trouble and Printavo is top screen printing based for me. Cyrious is too old and it was bought out by Corbridge so that’s basically legacy now and will cease to function and I guess most will be switched over to the new Corbridge when it comes out.

    https://www.clarity-software.com
    https://www.sign-tracker.com
    https://www.shopvox.com
    http://www.estimatesoftware.com
    https://www.corebridge.net
    https://www.netsuite.co.uk
    https://www.cyrious.com

  • Chris Wilson

    Member
    January 30, 2020 at 8:11 am

    If you are not estimating we use Trello as it was recommended on here. Increased our production of last 6 months with it. It’s free

    https://www.trello.com

  • David Hammond

    Member
    January 30, 2020 at 8:29 am

    We run Clarity. https://clarity-software.com
    It’s not a silver bullet.

    You need to sit down and work out accurately your costs, and accurately estimate your timings. The old saying, put sh!t in, get sh!t out.

    It’s OK on the larger jobs, but smaller jobs, or jobs where there are lots of smaller elements the calc wizard loses it. I wish we could be charge £130 Sq/m, but we can’t, so frequently I’m overriding prices. On the small format, it’s better, as we can decide if we want to print in-house or outsource.

    That said, you might not need the calc wizards, the pricing wizard comes in handy though.

    It keeps all our artwork and files in order on the server, and we have a record of each and every job we’ve quoted. It’s probably a little overkill, but it works.

    It’s not cheap, they’ll have to install it (at cost), your computer breaks and needs it reinstalling, pay again, want a report modifying, pay again… unless you’re hammering it, and using every feature, I’ve not seen an update that’s really changed our world.

    Think carefully about what you want it to achieve by using it, a spreadsheet might be just as effective.

  • David McDonald

    Member
    January 30, 2020 at 10:54 am

    Hi

    We use Clarity as well. When we started using it years back (2012) it was the best option we’d assessed and that seemed to be the general consensus amongst nearly all members on the boards. It works well for us and I can still recall how much more difficult things were prior to installing it, that said I now get the general feeling that other alternatives have since become more viable options to anyone starting fresh with this type of system. Definitely look at Clarity though as it is a good solid system (Dave’s comments are true about charging for every extra or service but why shouldn’t they?)

    It is an extremely important decision of which system to choose – the longer you stay with one system the more locked in you will become. If you wanted to migrate it becomes increasingly difficult, almost impossible to do this. Not that we are currently planning to move from Clarity, but if we did we’d have to pretty much run 2 systems in parallel (and for a considerable time), albeit just a single license for Clarity for access to all historical data.

    From a production planning/scheduling point of view then as mentioned Trello is good and essentially free for almost anything you’d need it for.
    https://www.trello.com

    Or Microsoft Planner if you have Office 365 then that is also free. We use the latter.
    https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoft-365/business/task-management-software

    Hope that helps.

    Cheers
    Dave

  • David Hammond

    Member
    January 30, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    No issue with them charging, but the basics like installing the software isn’t a DIY solution. When you’re paying enough for "support" it seems excessive.

    I get the impression they’re more geared towards the larger businesses.

    Like you Dave, I feel there are now alternatives to rival it but with over over 4 years of data in the software we’re kind of stuck.

    Not taking anything away from the software does what it should, and does it very well.

  • Ruel Maxwell

    Member
    January 31, 2020 at 11:18 pm

    So an update I’ve had a demo with Clarity and also had a quote. I like it but it’s like Cyrious it’s a bit dated and expensive for what you’re getting. Also, it’s basically server-dependent as mentioned above and not in the cloud I don’t like that and they don’t seem to be moving away from that anytime soon. If I had started years ago I would be stuck in but not gonna start now. I also realized that some simple things that you should be able to do yourself they don’t allow you to do you have to pay for that as well.

    For you guys using Clarity give Oracle Netsuite a look. It’s miles better than anyone of the products I mentioned I simply love it just can’t afford it yet or should I say justify an expenditure like that per mth yet (well I may just bite the bullet).

    But all the features and integration are awesome its worth every penny they charge and I only watched a video of it I’ve not gotten the demo yet that’s Monday coming. The reports you can pull the fact that you can customize for your liking.

  • Robert Lambie

    Member
    January 31, 2020 at 11:53 pm
    quote Ruel Maxwell:

    I’ve had a demo with Clarity and also had a quote. it’s basically server dependent as mentioned above and not in the cloud I don’t like that and they don’t seem to be moving away from that anytime soon.

    Other than Signlab and ONYX, every single thing we use is Cloud-based. Our computers are basically empty. I do hope Signlab will consider this in the near future.

  • Ruel Maxwell

    Member
    February 3, 2020 at 2:51 am
  • David Wilde

    Member
    June 2, 2020 at 5:26 pm
    quote Ruel Maxwell:

    So my thrust continues to find the right software I saw CASper On The cloud and PrintPlanr never heard of them before.

    Just following up on this, how did you get on?

    I had shopvox for 6 months and couldn’t stand it. Far too complicated and not used friendly IMO.

    Looking for something new to try though…

  • David Hammond

    Member
    June 2, 2020 at 6:31 pm

    What was the issue with shopvox?

    We use clarity, and Shovox looks far superior and better value.

  • David Wilde

    Member
    June 2, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    quote David Hammond:What was the issue with shopvox?

    We use clarity, and Shovox looks far superior and better value.Functionality wise it does everything but it does everything all at once. There doesnt seem to be an easy to follow flow to things.

    Its mainly the interface itself I have an issue with to be honest, a bit confusing and hard for others to follow which was my main requirement. I wanted something I could programme with the finer details but the lads could look at and see which job was up to which stage and what to do next.

    It reminds me a bit like when a web designer trys his hand at graphic design and sends you some ‘artwork’.

    I’ve booked a demo for clarity but reading back on this thread I’m not sure that’s the answer either from you comments?

  • David Hammond

    Member
    June 2, 2020 at 8:24 pm

    Clarity is OK, does the job. Not cheap, and has its quirks.

    Trouble is what ever system you use, your entire business needs to work around it.

    Whether you use a white board, or a CRM. As soon as you deviate the wheels fall off.

    No software works off the shelf for your business, you may need to change your business to fit your software… but the benefit out weighs that, but see above point, if it just doesn’t work, and you dont use it consistently, it’s all pointless.

  • Hugh Potter

    Member
    June 2, 2020 at 8:29 pm

    We’re using Xero accounting software which is loaded with all products and prices (most anyway), easy to make quotes etc. from there.
    https://www.xero.com/uk

    For organising I use paper job sheets, however, we’re now transitioning to Trello, so far I’m liking it, simple and as long as I keep it on a spare screen, easy to track what I’m doing.
    https://www.trello.com

  • David Wilde

    Member
    June 2, 2020 at 9:57 pm
    quote David Hammond:

    Clarity is OK, does the job. Not cheap, and has its quirks.

    Trouble is what ever system you use, your entire business needs to work around it.

    Whether you use a white board, or a CRM. As soon as you deviate the wheels fall off.

    No software works off the shelf for your business, you may need to change your business to fit your software… but the benefit out weighs that, but see above point, if it just doesn’t work, and you dont use it consistently, it’s all pointless.

    That sums up my position at the moment.

    The idea is that we have a system which allows others to jump in and take control when needed. For that we need a fairly clear and simple solution but capable of detailed quoting/crm as desired.

    Like you say, it’s no good me committing alone, whichever system I choose needs to run the business and we work around it.

    I shall keep looking for now.

  • David Wilde

    Member
    June 2, 2020 at 10:05 pm

    Hugh Potter:We’re using Xero accounting software which is loaded with all products and prices (most anyway), easy to make quotes etc. from there..

    For organising I use paper job sheets, however, we’re now transitioning to Trello, so far I’m liking it, simple and as long as I keep it on a spare screen, easy to track what I’m doing.I use Xero and love it. Also, use Trello, it’s great for workflow. https://www.trello.com

    I’m looking for the next step up though, there doesn’t seem to be one, its giant leap or nothing from what I see.

    If Xero allowed you to build quotes ‘privately’ I’d be delighted.

    For example, I don’t want the final quote that the customer sees to show my ‘working out’.

    For example, I can add ‘digitally print monomeric vinyl’ as a product and give it £xxx per sqm. In theory, when building a quote I just make the quantity ‘x’ and we have a price. I just don’t want my customer to be given the PSM price in black and white.

    It’s frustrating.

    Like David says I don’t think there is an off the shelf solution to fit our business

  • David Hammond

    Member
    June 3, 2020 at 7:22 pm

    You can do that in Clarity, build a sign, or job, using components, and wizards, and it just gives the customer a price.

    It takes time to set up, any system will, it wont magically give you prices, you can determine your own margin, based on your own costs and desired margin.

    If done properly and accurately you can get an accurate idea of costs, and decide if a jobs worth doing or not, or how much you really want to make.

    Where it falls down, is if using calc wizards. If you wanted some vinyl eg 2 @ 1000×400 and 1 @ 850×300, the wizards price them as individual jobs, or items, but can be over ridden to a sq/m price.

    Clarity has its quirks, you learn these as you use it.

    The pro’s outweight the cons.

    But as I said earlier.

    if you do not embrace any system, and use it religiously, they will all fail.

  • Iain George

    Member
    June 4, 2020 at 7:54 am

    @DavidHammond

    I have the basics can invoice, use calc wizards and price lists but am sure I am not using it to its full potential. Have you any pointers or would you recommend the training provided by Clarity? It is only me and my brother here.

    Thanks
    Iain

  • David Hammond

    Member
    June 4, 2020 at 8:44 am

    Hi Iain,

    We have 2 calc wizards (small format, and the large format (roll to roll))

    We also have the accounts connection to sage.

    That’s it, we’re similar to you it’s just me and my dad here.

    Other than the basic training we got years ago with Clarity, I’ve just self-taught myself bits, such as modifying reports, and item descriptions.

    It has its quirks, which you need to work around, but if you delve into a little bit there are loads it will do.

    The best thing we have, is clarity automatically creates a customer folder on our server, job folders, within that we have Artwork, Proof, Document, and print folders.

    If you’ve any questions fire away and I’ll try and help, save you paying £££’s for training.

  • David Wilde

    Member
    June 4, 2020 at 11:54 am

    Just sat through my 3rd ‘demo’. This time with printplanr.

    I have to say this has been may favourite so far but it’s expensive at £150 per month.

    I would follow down the clarity route as it would be ideal to have the support of others who use it on here but the route I go must be cloud based as I work from a number of machines.

  • David Hammond

    Member
    June 4, 2020 at 11:55 am

    Stick windows 10 pro on the machine, and remote desktop Stuck Out Tongue

  • David Wilde

    Member
    June 4, 2020 at 11:57 am

    That didn’t occur to me…

    Could well work for me.

  • Ruel Maxwell

    Member
    June 5, 2020 at 3:59 pm
    quote David Wilde:

    Just sat through my 3rd ‘demo’. This time with printplanr.

    I have to say this has been may favourite so far but it’s expensive at £150 per month.

    I would follow down the clarity route as it would be ideal to have the support of others who use it on here but the route I go must be cloud based as I work from a number of machines.

    I love print planr as well pretty awesome software but it’s a bit expensive for me too. There’s VSign Software too they sent me a demo it’s pretty robust too but at $250 a mth that’s out my budget. I decided to go with Sign Tracker it’s not the most polished of the bunch but I had a good chat with the owner and they’re working on a version 2 that will be loads better so I’m using that for now and I’m liking it so far

  • David Wilde

    Member
    June 5, 2020 at 4:18 pm

    quote David Wilde:Just sat through my 3rd ‘demo’. This time with printplanr.

    I have to say this has been my favourite so far but it’s expensive at £150 per month.

    I would follow down the clarity route as it would be ideal to have the support of others who use it on here but the route I go must be cloud based as I work from a number of machines.quote Ruel Maxwell:
    I love print planr as well as pretty awesome software but it’s a bit expensive for me too. There’s VSign Software too they sent me a demo it’s pretty robust too but at $250 a moth that’s out my budget. I decided to go with Sign Tracker it’s not the most polished of the bunch but I had a good chat with the owner and they’re working on a version 2 that will be loads better so I’m using that for now and I’m liking it so farSign tracker looks great value but doesn’t integrate with Xero which is a shame. Apparently they are working on it though.

  • David Wilde

    Member
    June 11, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    Went with Zigaflow in the end. https://www.zigaflow.com
    Formally quick flow.

    £60 per month per user.
    All the features of Shopvox but fully customizable, you can literally remove any aspect from your system and strip it right down to the useful parts.
    You can add your own checkboxes and drop-down menus or rename all the existing parts to suit.

    E forms, delivery notes, proofing all included.

    Workflow similar to Trello (drag and drop lists)

    It’s not been set up for signs/manufacturing specifically but a couple of tweaks that they guide you through can achieve the results you need.
    They are working on making it more specifically suitable for manufacturing at present.

    Integrates with Xero and cloud-based.
    If anyone tries the free trial, request a call/demo as the true value of the software needs a guiding hand (it is very simple to operate though).

  • Paul Hodges

    Member
    June 12, 2020 at 11:53 am

    quote Chris Wilson: if you are not estimating we use Trello as it was recommended on here. Increased our production of last 6 months with it. It’s free

    Does Trello keep an account for each customer with a job history?

    Last time I looked it seemed more like just individual job cards that you could produce without all the job history just being in one place?

  • David Wilde

    Member
    June 12, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    quote, Paul Hodges:quote Chris Wilson:If you are not estimating we use Trello as it was recommended on here. Increased our production of last 6 months with it. It’s free

    Does Trello keep an account for each customer with a job history? Last time I looked it seemed more like just individual job cards that you could produce without all the job history just being in one place?No, Trello is just card-based. Very basic but serves a purpose. I used it mainly to keep things in order and used Xero accounting for job/invoice history.

    https://www.trello.com

  • James Bateman

    Member
    August 14, 2020 at 6:27 am

    I started building something over lockdown to help our office based team work from home.

    To be entirely honest, I should have put some kind of system in place years ago. It’s amazing what you can get done in a few months not answering phones and worrying about everyone else is doing! 😀

    What started off as a quoting/estimating tool, has now ended up running production and even integrating with Xero so that everyone in the office (working from home) can communicate efficiently.

    • Colin Crabb

      Member
      August 14, 2020 at 11:15 am

      Looks very good – what program was this made with / in ?

      • James Bateman

        Member
        August 14, 2020 at 11:29 am

        Hey Colin,

        It’s mostly PHP, JavaScript and a little AJAX.

        Completely web based so it works on any computer with an internet browser… including mobile phones as well (although it does need tidying up a bit for mobile).

        I’ve tried to keep it as simple as possible as the dream would be to release it to others in the future.

        • Colin Crabb

          Member
          August 14, 2020 at 2:08 pm

          Yup, looks good and you should look at releasing it.

  • Robert Lambie

    Administrator
    August 15, 2020 at 5:34 pm

    Very clever James, it would be good to see it in action.

    I created one about 7 years ago and updated it about 4 years ago. It is really just an adaptation of an open-source web software. but works extremely well for us.

    from the screenshots yours looks similar style to Trello. did you build from scratch or adapt?

    • James Bateman

      Member
      August 18, 2020 at 6:06 am

      Cheers Robert, Yes creating it yourself has the benefit of customisation, but the limit of time/budget. After looking into all the available systems, I decided it might be better in the long run to make it ourselves and keep it generic enough for others to use.

      I took the Trello card idea for our production board i.e. when a quote is approved, you can see the job sheet ready to move across the various stages of production… all the way through to invoice.

      I’d love to release a demo version that people can test and give feedback. If people like it, I may stop making signs haha!

  • Robert Lambie

    Administrator
    August 18, 2020 at 11:47 am

    James-Bateman

    when you have a demo version ready, it would be good to have a look James?
    We could maybe get a couple of UKSB regulars to review it and create a featured news post on it. rob@uksigmnboards.com

    • James Bateman

      Member
      August 19, 2020 at 4:14 pm

      Absolutely, I’d love some feedback on the demo, thanks for suggesting.

      As soon as it’s ready, I’ll drop you a message.

  • Gary Forbes

    Member
    August 21, 2020 at 11:16 am

    I have often considered using a software to manage my jobs, but I always end up spending my money on something else as I’m such a small company I don’t know if I would truly feel the benefit of it. then again, we all have to start somewhere and maybe small is better as it allows you to expand on a solid foundation? maybe I am overthinking it? Rolling EyesRofl

    is anyone else using software like this but with no more than 2-3 staff?

    I would be interested to hear how you get on with it and what you are using?

    • Chris Wilson

      Member
      August 21, 2020 at 7:47 pm

      We use trello as I said above. 3 lads + me. They all have it on there phones and it’s free. It’s not perfect, but we have set-up an artwork and enquires tab, garment tab and then sign workshop. Within each there’s various tabs to keep everything in place. Then each job the is Due date, notes, photos, checklist. Which is handy as if a customer calls I can click that card and tell them straight away what’s been done etc.. also if am off sick number 2 can take charge, look at who’s on the line of needing to get done and exactly what stage the job is at.

      Just started my trial of quotient which can, although I have not yet, link in with QuickBooks. At the moment am just copying and pasting the quote across to trello. But gives a professional finish to it instead of a email. Also updating the quotes with proofs and it’s has a little tick box at the bottom that says “I joe blogs agree to this quote” which is good enough for me for signing off the artwork to. Few things I wish it would do that it doesn’t, or maybe I’ve just not worked out yet.

  • Craig Thompson

    Member
    August 21, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    We use Zoho – can input items as such and save them, but I have done an Excel spreadsheet with all our items in, cost and mark up, work your way down the list as if making a sign, (tray/print/acrylic/led’s/router time/labour/fixings) total price at the bottom showing the cost to them, cost to us, and total profit. https://www.zoho.com
    Works well for us.

  • James Bateman

    Member
    August 21, 2020 at 4:11 pm

    Hey Gary! I’d say with a very small business, software can be both a blessing and a curse for sure.

    My father used to run everything by email and in his head, which is fine for 2-3 people and maybe a fitter, but when he went on holiday, everything would fall apart. Before he retired, we tried a few things like spreadsheets and a CRM, but nothing ever felt complete and ended up getting neglected or lost.

    I’ve tried both ways of running a business and would choose software every time: Consistent pricing (doesn’t matter who does the quote), see updates of quotes sent to customers, flexible digital job sheets, corresponding Dropbox folders, draft invoices sent directly to Xero once the job is complete etc. the list goes on.

    The beauty of removing yourself as the bottleneck, is that you can put most of your knowledge into a system and have others take on specific roles that you just check on from time to time. Not only that, but there is no excuse for not seeing the information if it’s shared from a centralised location.

    Obviously I’m biased and a total advocate for it, but pushing past 4-5 people, I would say is an absolute must.

  • David Hammond

    Member
    August 21, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    There’s just me and my dad in our company.

    My dad was very old school, paper records, I got us onto clarity and we havent really looked back.

    What ever system (software or not) that you choose to organise your shop with you have really embrace it, and work with it. As soon as you start getting lax, the wheels quickly fall off.

  • Robert Lambie

    Administrator
    August 22, 2020 at 6:16 pm

    @James-Bateman

    James, is your job system purely tracking or were you able to add a pricing calculator type thing, or a database with standard prices?

    The one I created does not have job calculation, so I am just curious.

    • James Bateman

      Member
      August 24, 2020 at 9:39 am

      @RobertLambie

      Morning Robert, it certainly does! Excuse the scattering of screenshots, hopefully it will show in order of steps:

      1. List of items and materials

      2. Edit an item

      3. Choose the pricing module and editing price breaks etc.

      4. Create a quote using the item from the back-end

  • Warren Beard

    Member
    August 28, 2020 at 12:18 pm

    We use ShopVox and went for it after an awful experience with Clarity and after finally getting a demo it was far too complicated and super expensive, I’m sure it’s brilliant with tons of add ons and features but for me was too much. ShopVox was simpler and a lot cheaper so gave it a go. It’s been 3 years and it’s great and all my staff love it too and there’s several of us using it.

    The negatives of ShopVox is yes there are some areas that are not customisable but doesn’t cause much of a problem or none at all actually. Also the initial help of getting started and support isn’t great, the people are nice enough and are helpful but found they struggled a bit with some of my questions and requests so I had to spend more time figuring things out myself and trial and error but think it helped a lot in the long run as it’s so simple to do things now.

    I spent probably 3-4hrs a day for about 6 weeks to get it about 90% complete and we switched straight over from paper jobs to digital jobs in 1 day with no real hiccups or problems as I had put the work in beforehand, you can start it very simply in a very short space of time but then it’s sort of defeating the purpose I think of using these sort or programs so I entered everything in and calculated all out costs etc and build all the products I needed before I trained my guys and went live, 6 weeks I think (and was told) is very good and I even taught and suggested things to the developers.

    I would totally recommend it to any company who wants to go paperless.

    Cheers

    Warren

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