Materials Management is a broader based suite applications that may include a Pricing database, Inventory, Purchase Order and Tool/Equipment Tracker. A true materials management application suite is needed when there a long lead times for ordering and receiving items along with stringent quality control criteria.
Purchase orders and inventory controls are application modules that are typically part of construction software solutions. A purchase order defines what needs to be ordered, what is should cost and when it is to be delivered by line item. Software should offer the ability to generate electronic purchase orders directly selected by a user or using predefined criteria selected from an item database.
For this module to be effective within a construction software solution, it should have an easily updatable database of cost items to draw upon. A purchase order module should be able to issue requisitions and follow them from inception to delivery of goods and services to matching invoices to payments. Not every user needs functionality that is this broad, but a well integrated purchase order module should be able to perform all these functions.
Online pricing services can integrate many areas of a contractor’s business. Estimators, project managers, purchasers, billing and warehouse personal all can make effective use of online pricing services to streamline their tasks and improve overall company performance.
Pricing services can support local supply vendor pricing as well as national pricing services. With pricing services you also can have search criteria capabilities including: vendor part number, vendor model number, trade number, product group, description, item number, recall name, double search, and all items.
If inventory control is important to your business, look for realtime updating of inventory along with data which show how many items you’ve used or sold during each month of the year and to which customers and jobs..
Model and Serial Number Tracking
Specialty contractors like HVAC who offer service policies may want to track installation dates and warranty expiration dates on equipment purchased.
For contractors who deal with a high volume of items moving into their warehouse (or trucks) and then to jobs, a bar coding system can provide a huge improvement in productivity. Not only can it help you scan and count the items but bar coding also facilitates tracking movement between locations and will identify any shortages much faster. And it will, of course, provide more timely job cost data. Using handhelds to transmit inventory movement is a capability now being used by some contractors
Other Features to look for in materials management
Overbilling on purchase receipts – you enter the item and the software tells you if you have been overbilled and sends an automatic alert to the purchasing manager for approval
Materials list – Project managers get a list of materials due at job sites. This helps with planning labor.
Requisitions – some companies use requisitions as a preliminary to actual purchase orders. This allows staff to review and either modify or reject the requisition before it becomes a binding PO and updates committed costs and items on order.
Enter item receipts into accounts payable – this allows identifying items received and costing them to inventory while simultaneously creating a vendor invoice payable
Send out Purchase orders by fax or email – select mode of sending with one click
Nonstock items – ability to enter a one-time nonstock item to a purchase order which can be tracked and received but does not require creating a permanent inventory record
Item inquiry – the ability to see items on order or received by Vendor, Job, Item Code, or by Work Order.
Supplier history – see for each vendor their delivery history with items received under or overshipped, ontime or past due , along with price variances by vendor
Multiple warehouse locations – ability to tack items by location and transfer items between locations with a clear audit trail
Physical inventory counts – the ability to enter a physical inventory count by item and have the system show variances from computer (book) inventory
Tools tracking – In addition to large tools, many contractors have a need to keep track of small tools used on jobs which are subject to loss or pilferage