Introduction to eSignature

 

eSignature functionality is here! We’re delighted to announce this much requested feature as an integrated part of our SQLWorks platform:

eSignature allows a SQLWorks user to generate a single-use URL for a PDF report format (such as a contract, letter or order template) to send to an external signatory. The signatory can access the PDF through their web browser – signing a (touchscreen compatible) signature field that is then merged onto their paperwork in the correct place.

Each signed document is then automatically saved back into your main SQLWorks database, allowing you to integrate this critical step into workflows, projects, and your other business operations.

 

esignature process

 

Signatures can be an essential CRM checkpoint, and can be used as evidence that a customer has approved a purchase, agreed to the next stage of a bigger project, or consented to important terms & conditions.

To confirm identity, signatories can be verified with pre-saved security questions, can be given time-limits to sign, and can be required to sign multiple times within the same document before submission is allowed.

Most importantly, SQLWorks eSignature functionality does not require expensive ‘per-signature’ costs as is the case for many well-known competitors – or any special prerequisite software for the signatory – and can be integrated with a wide range of SQLWorks other functions.

 

esignature

 

We expect this tool will evolve as SQLWorks companies find new and exciting uses for online signature technology – using the power of integrated software to make the approval process easier and more efficient.

For business software advice and expertise, please contact our team today.

Using Shipping Controls

According to recent ONS figures, over 30% of businesses in the UK experienced difficulties getting the stock they needed during 2021, as supply chain issues continue to bite. Ensuring goods and materials arrive on time, in the right place, has become an important part of maintaining productivity.

SQLWorks offers a range of optional shipping controls that can help businesses better manage challenging supply chains, including:

 

Consolidations

Consolidations allow a purchasing manager to group individual purchase orders together into a consolidated group (for example representing the contents of a single shipping container) and assign meta-data to that consolidation, such as freight vessel numbers, suppliers, delivery details, docking dates and more.

Each new consolidation can be managed from the Purchase Ledger – simply select the purchase orders that need to be grouped and move them across the screen from left to right to assign them to the container.

consolidations

Here you can also manage other important information about that container, including actual delivery circumstances, additional on-costs or customs duty, and complete the shipping process.

On-costs can even be automatically split among the contents of that container, allowing a business to factor in the cost of shipping goods into those stock items’ cost-prices, sale-prices, and their eventual profitability.

 

Barcoding

SQLWorks permits stock-handlers to assign a barcode to any stock item, for use elsewhere in the platform. Intelligent Stock Ledger search fields allow the user to also search based on these bar codes, identifying a stock item even if only its bar code is known.

barcoding

Besides each stock item’s ‘Bar Code’ field you can also generate a preview – this same technology can optionally be used on a company’s templates for orders, pick sheets, delivery notes and many others, to help speed-up stock identification wherever that paperwork needs to be used.

SQLWorks uses EAN13 barcode generation that is accurate, internationalised, and works with a wide range of 3rd-party barcode scanning devices.

 

Dangerous Goods & Tariff Codes

With the need to declare tariff codes for internationally shipped goods, and dangerous goods codes for anything hazardous, these can be assigned to any stock item in SQLWorks under the ‘Advanced’ Tab.

tariff codes

We use formats from the UK Department for International Trade’s published 2021 dataset as our starting point.

Much like pricing or descriptions, shipping codes can be merged wherever stock items appear on documentation – please discuss with the SQLWorks team if your business has any special requirements.

 

Please speak to the SQLWorks Team to learn how our software can transform business operations. Contact us.

Introduction to Backflushing

Backflushing is an alternative method of allocating components or materials to manufacturing, whereby stock is deducted only after production has been completed.

Backflushing makes it easier to work with quantities that would otherwise be highly impractical to ‘pick’ for use on Works Orders, and is a particularly useful technique when:

    • Components are too small or numerous to be ‘counted out’ in a sensible timeframe. (e.g.: screws, nuts, bolts, other low-cost parts used in volume.)
    • When materials are divisible, liquid, molten, gaseous, in lengths, weights, or otherwise issued ‘approximately.’ (e.g.: paint, ingredients, chemicals etc.)
    • Where a ‘spare’ quantity needs to be returned to stock after manufacturing is finished. (e.g.: scrapings, leftovers, recycled material.)

In SQLWorks every component on a Bill of Material (BOM) has a default allocation method – either ‘Standard’, ‘Backflush’ or ‘Return’ which defines how stock of this item will be ‘used up’ in the Stock Ledger. These work as follows:

    • ‘Standard’ – This is the default, and is used for all items that need to be counted out in advance of production. Components will be removed from stock when the user clicks ‘Take’ on the Works Order, before production begins.
    • ‘Backflush’ – Components will only be removed from stock after the Works Order is built, and the user is then asked to specify how much has been used.
    • ‘Return’ – Similar to backflushing, however components will only be removed from stock after the Works Order is built, and the user is then asked to specify a ‘spare’ quantity that gets returned to stock.

By changing a component stock item to ‘Backflush’ on a BOM, nothing will be removed from stock at the ‘Take’ stage, instead being deducted only after that BOM has been ‘built’ on a Works Order. The user can then specify how much has (or hasn’t) been used.

This is significantly more practical for certain items – although production managers may need to initially estimate the stock quantity of a Backflush item that they expect to use on its BOM (e.g.: how much paint an item typically needs.)

The user can edit a component’s default type by right clicking on it in a BOM, and choosing ‘Change Component Type.’ Components set to Backflush will be marked with a small ‘B’ symbol in the BOM.

When ‘Taken’ within a Works Order, only Standard items will listed as being removed from stock, and Backflush items will always show a taken quantity of zero (with the user then prompted after the ‘build’ stage for the correct quantity used for Backflush, or quantity excess for Return.)

backflushing

For many manufacturers, drawing down stock ‘post-production’ in this way may be the only way to accurately update your usage of resources. Using backflushing is an efficient way of tracking manufacturing using more fluid components, and allows SQLWorks to keep your production precise.

SQLWorks Live on Microsoft Windows 11

SQLWorks Version 10 is officially live on both Microsoft Windows 11, with early tests suggesting a significant performance improvement.

Microsoft Windows 11 is the first major Windows release for six years, and introduces a raft of visual, technical and security updates to the world’s most widespread desktop operating system.

Our SQLWorks Software Development Team – which uses both Apple macOS and Microsoft Windows for development – works hard to ensure our software maintains the best possible lifespan and interoperability, without the need for companies to spend on paid version upgrades. This includes advance testing on preview build/upcoming operating systems via virtual machine, to ensure our customers won’t experience compatibility issues.

You can learn more about upgrading to Windows 11 here, including the require minimum specifications. Uptake across industry PCs is expected to be somewhat slower than for Windows 10, as many pre-2018 processors prior to the Spectre and Meltdown incidents won’t support the update – meaning that the adoption of Windows 11 will be driven predominantly by new devices.

SQLWorks is still fully operable on any 64-bit version of Windows 10, which itself remains fully supported by Microsoft until October 2025.

Video: Manufacturing Brilliance

 

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How to set pricing & discounting rules


Setting up pricing and discounting rules enables the end user to better manage customer accounts, and stock items.  Rules are restrictions or qualifiers that qualify the rule, and they are only applied if that condition is met.  You can create and set, specific rules for stock item costs and descriptions which are linked to individual customers.  As well as set parameters for when these price and discount rules will be automatically applied.

Managing pricing and discounting rules across multiple customer accounts and stock items can sometimes get quite complicated and tricky to keep on top of.  SQLWorks has made this process easier to set up, control and manage giving you greater flexibility and accuracy ensuring rules are adhered to across the whole of your customer portfolio.

The pricing and discount summary page gives managers and admin personnel the ability to view all rules that have been created, as well as the control to amend and save at a top level, which will automatically apply these rules across the platform.

The module can be found on the main nav bar under the Products Extras section.  The rules can be viewed on multiple tabs, and pricing rules can be imported and exported in bulk quickly and efficiently using an xls or csv file.  Discounting rules can be applied as line discount or an order discount, giving you the flexibility and control to apply rules at various stages of the ordering process.

Price & discount tab

Alternatively, rules can be viewed and managed from the Sales Ledger or Stock Ledger.  In both ledgers the Price & Discounts tab can be found in the top section of the window.  The rules listed apply specifically to the sales account or stock item selected and can be added, deleted and edited from this tab.  Once added the rules are linked to the corresponding ledger automatically and any order created that meets the criteria of one of these set rules, will adjust automatically..

Examples of the different types of rules that can be applied:

  1. Qty or value price breaks to reduce cost for higher value orders
  2. Limited time promotions
  3. Discounts by brand or other custom fields
  4. Specific prices or discounts by delivery site or currency
  5. Order level discounts based on value
  6. Customer specific part names & descriptions
  7. Priority based rules for complex ordering systems
  8. Rules targeting categories of SL account or product
  9. Separate rules for trade or retail customers
  10. Combinations of all of the above

To use customer specific part names & description to search for the item when creating a new customer order it is slightly different, using the customer lookup icon – as shown below.  Part names and descriptions automatically adjust on the item line once the criteria of a rule is met.

customer lookup

For more information, please see our full guide on Pricing and discounting features, or contact our team today.

Getting Started with Query Builder

Query Builder:

Query builder is a powerful reporting tool that advanced users can use to interrogate the SQLWorks database, cross-reference data in new ways, and get insight from business analytics.

Working in steps across the screen, Query Builder guides the user across four main tabs including ‘Setup’, ‘Tables’, ‘Conditions’ and ‘Preview.’

Setup tab allows users to create new queries, and choose the base layer data for their query from their SQLWorks database. For convenience, users can save queries here, opt whether to share them with other users, and re-run their favourites to generate new results as system data is updated.

In the Tables tab, the user can drag in related tables to cross reference different data within the database, and build new comparative reports that don’t already exist by default by selecting one or more data columns from within those tables.

query builder gif

The Conditions tab is perhaps the most powerful – allowing the user to assemble or subdivide the existing data in ways to extract very specific report outputs. Three tools are available here – Filter By, Sort By, and Group By. Filter By options can be used flexibly to exclude irrelevant data an target subsets, while Sort By allows you to re-order everything based on a specific table column to highlight priority data first.

Group By allows users to aggregate data in powerful ways – for example totally values per company, automatically calculating averages into value fields, or totalling costs. Programming criteria are available to do this, including ‘Distinct’, ‘Count’, ‘Concatenate’, ‘Maximum’, ‘Minimum’, ‘Sum’ and ‘Average’ – with columns ordered or re-designated to structure the report as you wish.

query builder group by

In the Preview tab, users can preview the results of their query and export to a range of formats including Excel spreadsheet (.xlsx), Comma-separated value (.csv), text (.txt), PDF (.pdf), print formats, or even email the results direct to themselves.

We hope users will find Query Builder to be a potent weapon in their arsenal of reporting tools – giving you new ways to identify patterns, compare and contrast relative data, or summarise from a new perspective.

 

For more information, please see our full guide to using query builder, or contact our team today.

Updated: Export to Excel

Export to Excel:

SQLWorks allows users to export data from almost any visible table (and most reports) to structured spreadsheet formats including Microsoft Excel (.XLSX) and comma-separated values (.CSV) – useful for manipulating data and analysing trends.

.CSV files are useful, but are basically limited to plain text organised with column breaks. Exporting to Excel provides much more scope for organising the output data for business purposes.

To make this more powerful, we’ve recently updated the options available when users export SQLWorks data to Excel to include:

 

1. Smarter Headers:

Column headers are delivered in a separate text format, with bold and underline – and now display numbered headers correctly. Where columns are clearly identifiable, Excel exports are also given column data formats (date / integer / text etc.) automatically.

spreadsheet

 

2. Automated Column widths

SQLWorks will scan the data being exported and size each Excel column appropriately for the data being exported.

This helps minimise the amount of spreadsheet formatting the user has to do manually. Automatic column sizing also factors in the column header, and works between 5-80 characters.

 

3. Intelligent Alignment

In line with accounting display conventions, ‘text’ data is left aligned by default, while ‘date’ and ‘number’ data is now automatically right aligned (as are headers.)

This helps make it easier to label numbers with text in the same row – and to compare various numbers in the same column, even if they share a preceding digit, but have different orders of magnitude.

 

Each user’s default export type is accessible via their CRM preferences – allowing users who require their data pre-formatted in Excel to choose this as their preferred output.

Data can be exported from reports by choosing ‘File’ as the export destination, or by highlighting some or all rows in any SQLWorks table and selecting ‘Export’. If Microsoft Excel is your default application for .XLSX and .CSV files, the app will open the data on screen automatically.

 

For more data management expertise and support, please contact our team today.

Managing Assets & Machinery

Asset Register


If a business harnesses important physical assets, keeping track of these over time quickly becomes essential.

Whether it’s your own machinery, or a piece of equipment you maintain for a client, attributing costs to these accurately is an key part of your business financial planning – and helps you make smarter decisions about future investment.

SQLWorks supports this process with a dedicated asset register – allowing the user to save a range of information (including make, model, warranty and more) for both in-house and client assets to aid day-to-day business operations. Asset Register can be found in the Stock Ledger, and helps the user build a centralised and definitive list that can be controlled with permissions groups, like any other SQLWorks Ledger.

For in-house assets, SQLWorks users can also link these assets to Purchase Orders – ensuring that asset’s data contains a detailed maintenance history that includes financials.

Helpfully, this also works across multiple Purchase Ledger suppliers, so that maintenance costs (such as repairs or replacement parts) remain accurate even if an asset’s service contract changes hands. This helps a company stay flexible, since accounting and contract periods may be much shorter than machinery lifecycles.

Assets may also be optionally enabled as a special tab in a customer’s Sales Ledger account – ensuring a service engineer can easily access known information about a client’s asset as a part of routine account maintenance. This might include location, serial numbering for identification, or notes on past repair work.

SQLWorks ensures business managers can properly document and maintain a full asset register – itself an asset to a well-informed team.

 

For expertise and software assistance, please contact our SQLWorks Team today

SQLWorks a Made Smarter UK Technology

Made Smarter Update:

Lineal’s SQLWorks Software is officially registered as a specialist UK digital technologies provider for manufacturing.

Made Smarter is a UK-Government backed initiative launched in 2017, following a nationwide review of the manufacturing sector – and includes a number of private and public sector organisations helping to modernise industry and drive adoption of productivity-boosting technology in the sector.

Recognised fields include a wide range of next-generation technologies for manufacturing such as robotics & process control, data and systems integration, mobile and wearable devices, sensor innovations, machine learning, additive manufacturing and augmented reality technology.

sqlworks on made smarter site

“We’re delighted to see SQLWorks listed among some of this country’s most advanced and cutting-edge technology solutions for manufacturing” said Lineal’s Managing Director Mike Matthews. “The Made Smarter review highlights adoption of modern technology as a keystone for industry in this country, and we want SQLWorks to underpin real advancement and strength in the industry.”

Businesses can read the original findings of the Made Smarter Review here, and learn more about Made Smarter UK here.

 

For Business Software expertise and support, please contact our team today.