First of all we would like to wish you a happy, prosperous and successful New Year from all of us at Avanti.
As it's a new decade we thought we would start the 2020s as we mean to go on and let you know what we've been working on.
We're delighted to inform you that Avanti 5 will be released to all Avanti subscribers in the coming weeks*. We want to wait until we release the major new version before making a formal announcement however we know that many users are eager for news on developments.
Avanti 5 is the first major new version of the Avanti desktop software for over 2 years as our major focus has been on developing our next generation system, Aspire. However we felt it was important to also continue to develop the core Avanti software as well and Avanti 5 is the result of many months of work based almost entirely on the feedback you've provided over recent years.
The main raison d'etre for Avanti 5 is of course Making Tax Digital. After looking at several options for providing this such as add-ons and web portals, we have chosen to build it into the core product instead. From the outside this may seem like a no-brainer however a lot has happened behind the scenes around how we deliver MTD - we'll perhaps share the story with you in a future post. However we're delighted to be able to deliver MTD VAT submissions in Avanti 5.
As you would expect we're including a host of new features and enhancements which we'll tell you all about closer to release. One thing we can tell you is that this update has been entirely customer-driven so all major new developments are based entirely on the most requested features.
Where a huge chunk of work has gone into making Avanti 5 what it is, has been a complete under-the-hood re-development of how the software works with data. The reason we finally bit-the-bullet and tackled this was to ensure that the software operated faster and more reliably in heavy-usage environments, particularly for multi-user systems. We've had a lot of feedback about this and we needed to fundamentally adapt how Avanti handles data to be much more streamlined and efficient. This will make Avanti 5 much more performant, robust and resilient for the higher intensity usage that our customers are now increasingly expecting from our software.
There are lots and lots more we've been working on that we can hardly wait to tell you about. But we'll resist and keep those under our hats for a little while longer ;oD
Have a great start to your year.
* This post includes a forward-looking statement regarding product update timescales. Please note that all such statements are provided as present estimates only and, until final release, are subject to change without notification.
As 2018 draws to a close, we are being asked by many customers about what the future holds and what our plans for Avanti are.
In an article by Avanti's founder (click here to read) all will be revealed about what we've been working on and what customers can expect from us in the future.
We have had many questions from users asking if Avanti is or will be "Making Tax Digital" compliant.
First of all, what is Making Tax Digital or MTD? MTD is part of UK Government legislation for all forms of taxation to become completely digital. They are starting with VAT and as of April 2019 most businesses will have to submit their VAT returns digitally to HMRC from compliant software applications.
Presently Avanti calculates your VAT return but does not submit it to HMRC directly. You would use the calculation from Avanti and log-in to the HMRC web portal, enter your VAT return calculations manually and submit it. As of April 2019 this will no longer be possible.
Therefore Avanti is not presently MTD compliant. However we are an HMRC registered developer with approved access to their MTD APIs - meaning we are authorised to access HMRC's systems to submit VAT Returns for our customers via our application software. Our team are developing an add-on app which will enable you to calculate new VAT returns or pull in saved returns from Avanti and submit them directly to HMRC to comply with MTD legislation. This will be made available early in 2019, well in advance of the April 2019 requirement.
To receive the MTD compliant add-on, your subscription for Avanti must be current and paid-up at the point of release. If you are an Avanti user who originally subscribed between 2011 and 2013 but have allowed your subscription to lapse please email us to ensure you have access to the MTD compliant add-on app when it is released.
We are pleased to announce the introduction of OpenAvanti. OpenAvanti is a programme to get customers involved in the developments we are working on at a much earlier stage in the process. It will enable Avanti customers to download builds of the software and updates we are developing on a regular basis, whether to use live in their business or to use as a test just to see how things are progressing.
The reason we are introducing OpenAvanti is primarily to encourage customer engagement in our development process. Earlier in the year we released Version 4 which had been in development for almost 2 years. It had been developed entirely behind closed doors which caused a lot of customers frustration at the seeming lack of progress. Rather than repeat this process, OpenAvanti lets you see exactly what we're working on as we build it and, very importantly, gives you the opportunity to provide us with feedback at a very early stage. If you've previously given feedback and we've approved a feature request then it can let you see and use that feature much earlier in the process . Indeed with customers we have trialled this programme with, that is exactly what has happened and has been very well received.
OpenAvanti doesn't only apply to updates to the existing product but to new products and services we are working on as well, so you can get your hands on entirely new developments at a very early stage to see the work we're doing and give you an early view into the future of our software and the benefits we're planning on bringing to your business. More news on this shortly.
New builds of the software will be released to customers regularly, usually on a weekly basis. We will let you know the full details of the changes and additions included with each build that we make available and also use a traffic-light system to let you know how safe we think each build is to go live in your business. More information on this will be provided when you sign-up.
Developing our software in the open and engaging with customers in this way is something very few software providers do in this space and we believe it will give Avanti a competitive advantage and enable customers to be actively involved in the progression of their key business management software.
To sign-up simply drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us you'd like to be part of OpenAvanti*. We'll email you full details of the programme including where to download the latest builds and how you can get involved to help us drive Avanti forward.
*OpenAvanti is available free-of-charge to all current Avanti subscribers.
A new study of UK small and medium sized independent businesses reveals that a third of them are still using pen and paper for key operational tasks such as stock control and order processing. It also reveals that only 15% of them have installed an integrated business system to help manage and automate their operation with the majority still using spreadsheets.
The study reveals that a perception of high costs, time intensive implementations and difficult to learn systems are the core reasons for the reluctance to install an integrated business management system. With Avanti BusinessSuite we address all of these concerns. Costs are low, implementation times can be measured in minutes or hours not in weeks or months and it's so simple to learn and use that training can be done online in an hour to get up-and running. Time these businesses take a look at Avanti!
In this post we'll cover the last stage of sales order processing, invoicing.
Invoicing your sales orders is just as straightforward as any other stage of order processing, if not simpler. Fundamentally the invoicing stage is all about raising invoices based on the order lines that you have dispatched on selected orders. More specifically you are invoicing delivery notes that you have raised when you dispatched.
As with all stages of order processing, select the Process Orders button from the Sales section or select Tasks > Sales > Process Sales Orders from the main menu. Once in the Order Processing window, you can get a list of the orders that are at the stage to be invoiced (either in part or in full) by selecting the Orders Awaiting Invoicing option from the drop-down list using the Include box on the left.
To invoice your sales orders you use the Invoice Order button which is placed in the toolbar above the sales orders list. Notice that, unlike allocating, picking or dispatching, there is no equivalent button on the order lines toolbar. This is simply because when you invoice an order you are not invoicing individual lines or quantities but instead, as already mentioned, you are invoicing the lines and quantities that you have already dispatched and more specifically the actual delivery notes have already been raised. We discussed dispatching and delivery notes in the previous post in this series.
When you click the Invoice Order button, the software automatically selects the quantities that have already been dispatched and puts them into the Invoiced/Invoice columns for the lines on the order. When you then click one of the Save buttons to process the invoice, the software looks at the delivery note(s) that already exists (and haven't already been invoiced) for the order and processes those line-by-line into a new invoice. It is important to note that this includes delivery notes raised previously AND those that are raised in the same session as you are invoicing.
It is very important to be aware that when you select to save after invoicing an order, the software will invoice ALL delivery notes for the order (that haven't already been invoiced) and puts all lines from those delivery notes onto the same invoice. Therefore you can have multiple delivery notes on the same invoice, a flexible feature that many customers love. However some customers may prefer one-invoice-per-delivery-note and if this is the case for you, you will need to make sure that you invoice your delivery notes before you do any more dispatches for the same order and it is advisable that you carry out your dispatches in separate sessions from your invoicing eg do your dispatching, Save and then do your invoicing (or vice versa). Please note : We do have plans to provide options to make it much easier for users who want to ensure one-invoice- per-delivery-note to be able to enforce this way of processing.
When you Save, the software will process invoices for the selected sales orders and will display them in the Invoices list on the right of the Processing window. When all invoices have been recorded and processed, you have the options to drill-down to view the generated invoices and to print or email them.
As we mentioned in the previous post about dispatching, delivery notes for each order (and order line) are displayed on the right-hand status panels. Where a delivery note has been invoiced, you will see it's invoice number displayed next to it. You can click the invoice number to lookup the details of the relevent invoice.
That's really how simple it is to invoice your sales orders to complete the processing. Once an order is fully invoiced it is considered to be complete and is no longer an Active order.
That pretty much covers the invoicing stage of sales order processing. In the next post in this series we're going to cover how to deal with part processing orders.
You can read the full series of posts on Sales Order Processing by clicking here.
Avanti has moved on a long way since it's launch as an entry-level accounting product 6 years ago up against the likes of Sage Instant, Quickbooks etc. Since then we've developed the product relentlessly to be a complete business management solution for small businesses, exactly where we always intended for it to be. But in the market where is Avanti, who is it aimed at and where does the product live amongst it's competitors?
Avanti is aimed predominantly at small businesses who have a stock management & order processing workflow requirement and have outgrown either the functionality or the size of their accounting system or are a start-up knowing that they need more than the basics. Overwhelmingly there is a gap in the market between accounting systems costing from a couple of hundred a year (or less) and mid-level systems starting at 5-figures per year. There are some competitors who claim this space but they are still charging mid-4 figures a year to get onboard. Small businesses who have more advanced needs than accounting software but don't need the complexity of mid-range systems or can't stretch to their expensive price tags are exactly where Avanti is positioned, offering an advanced yet easy to learn solution costing in the mid-hundreds upto low 4-figures per year - easily affordable for all small businesses needing our level of solution. As we like to say, the power of ERP at entry level prices.
We call Avanti BusinessSuite an ERP solution although we do not apply that term in the way it is often associated with massive enterprise systems such as SAP or Oracle, but in how it relates to small businesses, offering a single application to manage the majority of their business operations, a complete business management system.
We think of Avanti BusinessSuite as "The ERP software for small business", providing small businesses with the only complete business management software that is aimed, priced and developed specifically at small businesses. If your small business has outgrown your accounting system and you're frustrated by the lack of affordable systems to take your business to the next level, Avanti is your next step.
In the last post in this series about Sales Order Processing in Avanti Version 4, we talked about back orders and picking. In this post we move on to discuss the dispatching phase of the process.
While dispatching orders is no more difficult or indepth than allocating or picking it does involve a lot more moving parts in the background. When dispatching, delivery notes are generated for the goods being dispatched and, as you would expect, the stock is reduced.
As with picking, dispatching orders is carried out from the Order Processing window which is available by clicking the Process Orders button in the Sales section (or selecting Tasks > Sales > Process Sales Orders from the main menu).
In the Order Processing window you can use the Include drop-down box on the left to see the sales orders which are now ready to dispatch. Simply select the Orders Awaiting Dispatch option from the list and the orders list will be filled with the relevent sales orders.
As with Allocating and Picking you now have the option to select to Dispatch an entire order or an individual line on an order. To dispatch a complete sales order, highlight it in the orders list and click the Dispatch Order button in the toolbar above the orders list at the top. To dispatch an individual line, highlight the relevent line and click the Dispatch Line button in the toolbar above the order lines list.
It is important to note the quantities that are assigned for dispatch when you click one of the Dispatch buttons. If a quantity is already set as Allocated on the line, the quantity automatically assigned to be Dispatched will be the same as the Allocated quantity. If no Allocated quantity is set, the software will attempt to perform the allocation, the picking and the dispatch step all in one process. If you have set the system to work on a strict stock control setting, it can only do this for the stock which is available, otherwise it will always do it for the full outstanding order quantity.
If you want to define a Dispatch quantity on a line other than what is automatically assigned by the software, click the green arrow to the right of the Dispatch Line button and enter the quantity you want into Qty Dispatched box. Please note that you cannot cancel an already saved dispatch quantity (as a Delivery Note record has been created for it, as we'll discuss shortly) and you cannot enter a quantity higher than what is available in stock (unless you have set to a non-strict stock control).
As with all stages of processing, the dispatch quantity changes that will be processed when you save are shown in the This Session band on the right in the order lines list. The quantities that they will be changed to once saved are displayed in the Order Status band on the left.
When you have processed any dispatches on any line on any order and you click one of the Save buttons, the software will go away and begin creating Delivery Notes and reducing the stock. To show you what it is doing and the Delivery Notes it is generating, the software displays the Processing orders window when it starts saving.
As shown in the screenshot above, the Delivery Notes that are generated are listed for you to see. You can then drill-down further to view any Deliver Note by clicking the magnifying glass to the left of the one you want. You can also print or email any of the generated Delivery Notes by clicking the printer icon next to it. If you close the window you can display it again to see all processing performed in the current window by clicking the View Processing button in the main toolbar.
When a Delivery Note is generated for an order the software adds an Order Dispatch & Invoice Info section in the Status panel next to both the orders list and the order lines list. Therefore when you highlight an order that has been dispatched you will see the delivery note(s) that were processed for it and for individual lines you can see the delivery note(s) that the item was processed on.
Delivery Notes are a first class citizen in Avanti Version 4 and they can have their own document layouts through the Document Designer just like any other type of transaction. They also have their own view in the main Sales section so you can see a list of generated delivery notes. Simply click the Delivery Notes button as shown below.
That just about covers dispatching in Avanti Sales Order Processing. In the next post in this series we'll cover the final step in processing sales orders - invoicing.
Following on from the first post in this series about the new Sales Order Processing system in Avanti Version 4, in this post we'll cover back orders and picking.
In essense back orders and picking are the 2 non-essential steps in the order processing workflow and they are there to provide status and steps to help your workflow visibility but are entirely optional to use.
Putting an order line on Back Order is useful where you know you cannot fulfil the order right now but may be able to in the near future. This will keep the order active and in-progress. If you do not place an order or order line on Back Order and the Due Date is passed, it will be marked as Unfulfilled instead. Therefore if you want to keep an unfulfilled order or order line active you should place it on Back Order.
You can place an order line on Back Order through the Order Entry window or through the Order Processing window. In the order entry window (whether entering a new sales order or editing an existing) you click the Allocations button on the toolbar with the required line highlighted. In the Allocations pop-up you can then enter the required quantity in the Back Order box as shown below.
To put an order line on Back Order in Order Processing, select the order in the orders list and highlight the required line in the line list at the bottom. Click the Back Order Line button to put the line on Back Order. To put a specific quantity on Back Order, click the green arrow to the right of the button to get the drop-down and enter the quantity in the Qty Back Order box. You can also cancel a back order by selecting the Cancel Back Order option on the Back Order drop-down.
To see a list of back orders you can use the Include Orders drop-down (shown below) and select the Back Orders option to see the full list of back orders.
Picking is a simple step in the order processing workflow. Available only in the Order Processing window you can use either the Pick Order or Pick Line buttons in their respective toolbars. Select the Pick Line button to just pick the highlighted order line. As with Back Orders you can click the green down-arrow at the side of the button to see a drop-down menu and select to pick a specific quantity or to cancel a quantity previously picked.
To see a list of orders that have not yet been picked you can click the Orders Awaiting Picking option on the Include Orders drop-down. If you want to see a list of sales orders that have already been picked (within the other criteria defined) you can select the Picked Orders option from the same drop-down (shown below).
The Picking List report is also a very useful tool in the picking workflow step. This is available from the Sales section Reports menu or from Reports > Sales on the main menu.
We hope this helps you take advantage of the optional Back Order and Picking steps in the Sales Order Processing workflow. In the next post in the series we'll take a look at Dispatching and Delivery Notes.
Avanti BusinessSuite Version 4 now gives you the facility to change the colour scheme in the software. This is useful if you want to choose a more preferable colour scheme. However it is perhaps more useful in multi-company systems where you would like each company to display in a different colour scheme so it is more easily identifiable which company is in use.
Selecting a different colour scheme is very simple. Select File from the main menu and then select Company Preferences. On the left click the Colours option. Here you'll see a sample display of the colours that the company is presently selected to display in.
By default the selected colour scheme will be "Avanti V4" which is a blue style to match our branding. However you also have 4 other schemes you can choose from. Click the down-arrow button on the Colour Scheme box and you will see a list of colour scheme options. When you select a different scheme from the list the sample display will change to show the scheme you have selected.
For long-time Avanti users who prefer the green colour style from previous versions we have included an "Avanti Classic" scheme so you can keep the same colours.
When you see a colour scheme you like simply click Save or Save & Close and your new colour scheme will be used. Any windows you already had open when you selected a different colour scheme will remain as they were however any windows you open from that point will display in the new colours.
This has been a hugely requested feature for some time now and we're glad to be able to finally introduce it in Version 4. Hope you like :)
Avanti BusinessSuite Version 4 includes a whole new, powerful and flexible sales order processing system. In this series of posts we'll cover how to make the most of it in your business. We'll start off by explaining how allocations work.
Allocating stock to sales orders is a key function of sales order processing. This enables you to take the stock you have on-hand, allocate it to a customer's order and ensure it isn't sold or allocated to someone else. In Avanti you have two core ways to allocate stock to orders :
1) Automatic allocation - have the system automatically allocate stock to sales orders when
you enter an order.
2) Batch allocation - allocate stock to orders in a batch at some point later when all sales order have been entered.
You are not limited to just these two methods however you can decide which method the software will utilise by default. To determine which of these methods you use you can open up Company Preferences from the File menu. Click the Sales Orders option on the left and you have some options on the right.
For the purpose of this post we are interested in the second checkbox, Allocate sales orders to stock automatically. Ticking this checkbox will cause the software to attempt to allocate stock to sales orders as you enter the orders. This is useful if you want to make sure the orders are allocated immediately. If you do not tick this box then stock will not get allocated immediately and you are left to allocate stock to orders yourself later, either in a batch or separately. This is useful if you want to allocate all orders later, particularly useful if you want to allocate stock based on each customer's priority.
Regardless of the default method you choose to allocate stock to sales orders, you can override it manually. For example you choose not to allocate automatically so you do it later in a batch. However for some orders you have to ensure that stock is allocated right away. This can be done quite simply. When entering an order you have an Allocations button. Click this and you can enter the quantity you want to allocate to the item you are entering. By manually entering a quantity to allocate at order entry you can override the default behaviour, whether to manually allocate or deallocate. When making a manual allocation at order entry make sure you click the Confirm Allocation link.
For sales orders that are not allocated immediately, you can use the Process Orders option in the Sales section. This is the hub of SOP in Avanti and can be used to process orders through each stage. However we're specifically covering allocations in this post.
In the Order Processing window you can see all orders that are awaiting allocation using the Include Orders box on the left. Click the Include drop-down and select Orders Awaiting Allocations from the list.
You can now see all orders that need to be allocated, both in full and in part. Highlight the order in the list at the top that you want to allocate and all of it's lines are shown in the list at the bottom. You can allocate all lines on a sales order by clicking the Allocate Order button above the orders list. To allocate individual order lines use the Allocate Line button above the lines list. Click the green arrow next to the button to get a list of options such as Unallocating or entering a specific quantity to allocate.
An important option to automate allocating sales orders in a batch is the Allocation Run button. This will run through each sales order in the current list and allocate available stock to each order. This becomes particularly important if you want to allocate stock to orders based on customer priority. This enables you to ensure that your higher priority customers get the available stock first. To ensure the sales order list is sorted by customer priority, tick the List By Customer Priority box in the Customers box on the left. Once it is listed in the way you want you can click the Allocation Run button. We've covered how to define customer priorities in a previous post.
So that's an overview of how to allocate stock to sales orders using the new SOP system in Avanti Version 4. In the next part we'll look at the back ordering and picking stages of order processing.
In Avanti Version 4 we have introduced new CRM features and we have had a lot of people ask us what it is all about.
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management which in terms of our implementation means being able to manage your customers, sales leads, contacts and prospects. The CRM features in Avanti are fairly simple however they include the facilities most small businesses require from a CRM system without the additional complexity and cost of a full-blown CRM. And of course the best part of our CRM is that it's "baked-in" to your core business system, no separate app and in fact no separate section in our software, it is all built-in to the customer section you already know.
When you open the Customer section in Version 4 you now get some options above the customer list. These are the types of sales contacts you can have with CRM. You can add your own types but by default you have Customers and Prospects. Depending on which type you click, the list of records will change to show only those of the selected type. By default the selected option is Customers, as you would expect. You can therefore store and maintain all of your sales contacts in Avanti without clogging up your main customer list.
Sales contacts that you record that are not yet full Customer records can still have quotations, estimates and proformas recorded for them without having to be included in your customer list. Only when you convert estimates, quotations etc to full invoices or sales orders do the contacts become full customers.
To add a non-customer sales contact you click New in the Customer section as usual and you can select the type of contact you want it to be. If the drop-down does not include the type you want you simply type it into the box and when you save the record the new type is added as a button in the Customer section. When you click the button you'll see all of your sales contacts of that type.
Another new element that is part of CRM is Activities. Activities enable you to record each action or contact with a customer or prospect. For example record notes about a particular telephone conversation, details of an email, a letter received or sent to them. You can also attach files or web-links to each activity eg a letter received etc. We will talk more about Activities in a future post.
Hopefully this post has given you a little bit of an insight into the new CRM features in Avanti and we really hope you will make use of them to help you organise your sales contacts all in one place.
Delivery Notes have been a concept long requested by Avanti customers. You've always been able to produce delivery note documents of a fashion simply by having an alternative document layout to run against transactions, however in Version 4 delivery notes are a first class citizen through the Sales Order Processing facilities we have introduced.
When processing a sales order you now have a Dispatch step in the workflow and when you dispatch a sales order (either in full or part) the software generates a specific Delivery Note for that dispatch. That Delivery Note has it's own number, separate from the order and invoice, and has it's own specific type of document layout that you can set-up in the Document Designer.
In the Sales section they also have their own view. Along the top of the list you can click the Delivery Notes button to see a list of delivery notes which you can work with. Delivery notes are effectively the glue between the original sales order and the invoice that is generated. Therefore on your delivery note documents you can include the original sales order number and on your invoice documents you can include the delivery note number that the invoice was generated from.
Delivery Notes are a powerful and built-in part of the Sales Order Processing features that are part of Version 4 and we hope you will make use of them as part of your business processes. As always please do let us hear your feedback as well.
Today the Government triggers Article 50. Find out more about Government Plans for Britain leaving the European Union.
We are pleased to announce that we are making Version 4 available to all Avanti subscribers today on a pre-release basis. This gives all Avanti subscribers the opportunity to download and check out our major new version prior to full release.Version 4 has been a long time in the making and we're very excited to finally be able to share it with our subscribers. We're in the process of final testing and making last minute changes, hence it's pre-release status, but we feel it's important that we put Version 4 in the hands of our valued customers now and give you the opportunity to see the fruits of our hard work over the past year and a half.
We appreciate that customers have been waiting a while for Version 4 and there has been one or two delays with it's release for various reasons and we understand it's been a frustrating wait for those who are keen on using the new features being introduced. We hope that making Version 4 available now, as a pre-release, will give you the opportunity to use the new version for review and provide your thoughts and feedback.
The key new feature in Version 4 is advanced Sales Order Processing. In order processing you now have the facility to allocate stock and process orders based on customer priority. This is done by assigning a priority level to your key customers as shown below.
You can setup Sales Order Processing to allocate stock in a batch rather than allocate immediately on order entry (although you can allocate immediately when required). In the Order Processing window you can select to carry out an Allocation Run by customer priority. This makes sure that your priority customers get the available stock first to process their orders quickly.
For the next steps in processing orders (picking, dispatching etc) you can ensure that you focus on your priority customers first by listing the orders with highest priority first.
One of the features that will be part of Version 4 is the ability to allocate stock against non-sales orders such as estimates and quotes or proformas. For example this lets you put stock away against a quote so if and when the customer places the order, you know you have the stock available for them already. However what really makes this sing is that you can allocate the stock temporarily and have the system automatically deallocate it if no action is taken. This means you don't have to remember to remove allocations to manually free up the stock again.This also enables the concept of a "layaway" for instances where you want to hold stock temporarily for a customer but when there's no quote or estimate involved. This is made possible through an existing feature, Customer Document Types. You create your own document type, called a Layaway, and then enter a new transaction as a Layaway with the stock you want to hold for them. You allocate the stock for the period you want and then either convert it to a sales order or let the software deallocate it for you automatically.
Hope you like. More soon ...
We are delighted to announce Version 4, the major new version of Avanti BusinessSuite, will be released next month.
Version 4 has been well over a year in the making and includes some amazing and highly-requested new features and functionality. The biggest area of improved functionality is in Sales Order Processing. Sales Order Processing in Version 4 is now highly advanced yet simple to use and offers tremendous flexibility. You can now simply and easily track the status of orders from order entry, stock allocation and picking through to dispatch and invoicing. Allocate stock to your priority customers first, part allocate and manage part-dispatches and keep a complete track of your delivery notes.
As we mentioned in a previous post, Version 4, now also includes CRM features to help you manage and track your relationships with customers, sales leads, prospects and more. There are improvements in all areas of the software including stock control with a new facility to print stock labels in any format you wish. You can now also print bar codes on stock labels and on documents such as invoices and purchase orders.
There's simply too much in Version 4 to cover here, including countless small improvements which have been requested by customers, and we'll be posting more information over the coming days and weeks. We can't wait to share V4 with you!
In response to demand from users we're including simple CRM capabilities into the initial release of Version 4 of Avanti BusinessSuite, which will be available in August. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) enables you to better manage your interaction with customers at every stage of your relationship.
Avanti CRM features include the ability to manage prospects, sales leads and others and keep these contacts separate from your main customer list. You can record transactions such as Quotations and Estimates for a prospect without maintaining them as a full customer record so they don't show up in your customer list. If the prospect does place an order you can convert them quickly to a full customer by converting their quotation or estimate into a sales order or invoice. If they don't convert into a customer they won't pollute your actual customer database.
You can have as many types of contacts eg leads and prospects as you need and each type are kept separate in their own lists. While these don't maintain the main financial details of a full customer, they do maintain notes, activities,multiple addresses and contacts as well as custom fields.
A key part of Avanti's CRM capabilities are Activities. Activities are used to maintain a complete history of your interactions with your customers and prospects, such as phonecalls, emails, letters etc. You can attach documents, files and web-links to Activities if required. If an activity needs to be actioned you can also assign it as a To-Do item to a user.
With the introduction of CRM features in Version 4, Avanti BusinessSuite has all the pieces necessary as a complete, end-to-end ERP solution.
... but then we'd have to kill ya! :)
A first sneak peek at Version 4 of Avanti BusinessSuite. This shows the new Order Processing window. From here you'll be able to manage and process all of your sales orders from allocation to dispatch and invoicing. More soon ...
As you can imagine we get a lot of requests for new features and enhancements from our customers. We absolutely embrace this and believe that our close collaboration and responsiveness to what customers tell us they need is the reason Avanti BusinessSuite has become the unique and powerful small business solution we have today. From time-to-time however we get requests for significantly advanced features which are beyond the scope of what we aim to deliver in the core product. However the demand for many of these advanced features is growing and we have decided to look at them again. In reviewing the feasibility of adding these features we had to take into account the significant investment in development and how we could make them work from a commercial point-of-view. We also felt it would be unfair to ask users who do not need this additional functionality to pay extra so we asked the customers who were requesting them if they'd be prepared to pay more specifically for the advanced features they needed. The answer we got was an overwhelming YES and so the concept of the Add-On was born!
We shall be rolling out 2 Add-Ons to BusinessSuite alongside the upcoming major new release, Version 4. The first two Add-Ons are Component Assemblies and Back-To-Back Ordering. Each one will be available separately and we have ensured they are affordable for all businesses who need this additional functionality.
Without doubt the most requested advanced feature we've had! The Component Assemblies Add-On will provide businesses that manufacture and/or build product kits from constituent parts or components the functionality to track their stock to see how many finished products can be built from available component stock. Build products to stock or to order, build in additional costs such as delivery, landed or labour costs into the finished product and automatically update finished product costs from other cost changes. Mark constituent parts to be purchase items only and finished products to be sales items only plus a lot lot more.
After discussions with many customers about the new advanced Sales Order Processing features that we're including in Avanti BusinessSuite Version 4, many requested the addition of Back-To-Back or Special Ordering for the new SOP. This enables customers to raise purchase orders back-to-back with sales orders for items that are not stocked. The software will then track the special purchase order through the system, through receiving into stock and ensuring the right stock is allocated to the correct sales order all the way through to dispatch and invoicing. This is ideal for businesses that handle drop-shipments, dispatch from other locations or who sell a lot of special items that they do not stock.
We believe that Add-Ons provide the best method for us to address the demand for more advanced functionality in Avanti BusinessSuite in a way that satisfies and is fair to everyone. Of course we shall continue to develop fantastic features in the core product and the exciting new features coming in Version 4 will certainly show the commitment and vision we have to advance Avanti BusinessSuite.
Version 4 is the upcoming major new version of Avanti BusinessSuite small business software. Version 4 includes some huge new features which many of our customers have been asking for. We have been working hard behind the scenes for a while to get V4 ready for release and we are sure you’ll agree it was worth the wait once you get your hands on it!
The big enhancements in V4 are the advanced Sales Order Processing features. Now you will have full control over your stock allocations through to picking and dispatching right through to invoicing. Part allocate and part dispatch orders, place items on back order and know exactly where you are with each order at all times including tracking unfulfilled and cancelled orders.
A fantastic new Order Processing Control Panel will let you get a complete view of your active sales orders to help you process them easily. You can run through your day’s orders allocating stock as needed and even allocate them by customer priority to ensure your best customers get the stock first. Allocate stock to orders manually or automatically and work through to dispatching and invoicing with complete traceability. It’s a huge change to the software and will address the demand we are seeing for more in-depth stock and order processing capabilities.
There are plenty of other new features to sink your teeth into as well including the introduction of barcode printing which you can use in the new Stock Labels feature as well as on your customer documents. There are also improvements in the core financial aspects of the software too. More news on this soon!
With Version 4 we are also releasing 2 Add-Ons. Add-Ons are a new concept for us but are something we are likely to expand on in the future. Add-Ons enable us to add advanced functionality and value that applies to only a percentage of customers and in a way that doesn’t increase the cost of the system for others. The first Add-Ons we will be introducing alongside the release of Version 4 are Component Assemblies and Back-To-Back Ordering. More about these Add-Ons in an upcoming post.
Custom fields, introduced a year ago, can be a really useful tool to maintain additional information about your customers, suppliers and stock records. In addition to being able to store custom info about your records, you can also search for your records based on the information in custom fields and also include the information on your documents such as invoices, purchase orders and statements.
To highlight how custom fields can be utilised to make them incredibly useful we have a customer who sells parts for a specific type of vehicle. They have over 100,000 parts that they sell although they stock only a few thousand. Being able to search for a specific part from their vast catalogue is a particular requirement for them. They have used custom fields to define very specific details of each part and the ability to label each custom field how they want is also key. Using the Search facility in the software they can now search for any item rapidly using the detailed information in their custom fields. They also find it very useful that they can include specific information about each part on their invoices taken from their custom fields.
Custom fields have proven very popular since their introduction in Avanti BusinessSuite. Future plans to improve them include being able to import information into custom fields using the Import facility, custom field labels based per record or per group, set up selection lists for certain custom fields and extending custom fields to transactions such as invoices and purchase orders.
To start making use of custom fields simply use the Custom tab in the Customer, Supplier and Stock Details windows.
As more and more businesses are selling and taking payments online, it's not always so easy to record the inevitable payment processing fee through the books. The processing fee can often be 3.5%+ of the sale and this needs to be recorded as an expense and also you need to ensure that only the amount you've actually received shows in your bank account but your customer's account is adjusted for the full amount. In standard systems this actually involves 2 or 3 different entries to process but with Avanti we've got a simple built-in feature which takes care of all of this for you.
Generally you will have a bank account set-up for your payment processing provider. For example if you use Paypal as your payment processor then you'll need to have a Paypal bank account in your Bank section in order to record your payments into that account. You'll then need to let the system know that the account can be used to apply payment processing fees. To do this you edit the bank account and tick the Apply Payment Processing Fees checkbox displayed under Balance Info.
If you're recording the payment at the point of invoice entry you can click the Pay button to open the Payment window. Select the bank account that you've received the money into eg your Paypal account. You can then enter the Payment Amount that the customer has actually paid - the full amount of the invoice is entered for you. Next you can enter either the processing fee you've been charged or the amount you've actually received after the fee, it doesn't matter which. When you save the payment, the software will automatically apply the necessary entries for you by applying the full amount to the customer's account, the processing fee as an expense and putting the amount you've actually received into the selected bank account.
You can also apply payment processing fees through the main Customer Payment window. Again select the correct Bank account and the payment amount received from the customer. Then click the Processing Fee button to enter either the processing fee or the amount received after the processing fee and all the necessary entries will be recorded for you.
The simple and elegant way in which Avanti BusinessSuite handles payment processing fees is really useful if you need to handle a lot of payments through online payment processing providers. We use it ourselves a lot and we hope you find it useful too.
We had an interesting enquiry recently from a company who make certain types of food products. One of their requirements was to be able to track each production batch they make and be able to see who bought which product from which batch. Avanti has a perfect fit for this requirement in the shape of Job Tracking. Although not designed specifically for this purpose, the Job facilities gives this company the batch tracking they need.
First of all they can rename Job tracking to Batch tracking to make it easier from a user point of view. For each batch they produce they create a new batch record. Whenever they raise an invoice or a sales order to a customer they can assign that batch to the whole invoice/order or to individual lines on the transaction. At any time they can simply use the Batch History option to view the customers who bought product from a particular batch, when they bought it and drill into the full details of each transaction.
If you have a need to track batches of product that you make or sell, the job tracking facilities are very versatile to help you achieve this. Indeed many customers use Job tracking for different purposes for example tracking their sales people's performance. We're also working to develop additional tracking facilities to expand on these capabilities.
The product pricing facilities in Avanti have become much more flexible with the introduction of 2 features. The first is unique customer pricing which enables you to set unique pricing and discounts for each customer when buying specific products. Where a unique price and/or discount for a product is defined for a customer, Avanti will automatically use that price the next time an invoice (or sales order) is raised for that customer. To define unique product pricing for a customer you simply edit their details and click the Prices tab and add the products that you want to record unique prices for.
Another popular feature which prevents you from having to remember previous pricing for customers is the Last Price facility. Tick the Use Last Price setting on a customer's details and when you next raise a transaction for the customer it will try to retrieve the price that the customer last paid for each product you select. Take a look at the video below for a full demo of the Last Price facility.
When keeping stock control, tracking quantities you physically have in stock is often straightforward. Keeping a track of the stock you have allocated to customers on their sales orders to see what you actually have available can be a different story altogether.
In many systems the only way to track allocated stock is to use complex sales order processing. Avanti however doesn't require you to go through all of that kerfuffle to track the stock you have allocated to sales orders. It offers a very simple and straightforward way of allocating the stock to the customer when you raise a sales order and dispatching the stock when you convert the order to an invoice. You can go more indepth if you wish but for many users this works just fine.
Take a look at the demo video below which shows how to set up sales order allocation tracking and how simple it is to use.
As more and more businesses who are choosing Avanti are product-based businesses we thought we'd post about a lovely little feature which can help you quickly raise invoices (or quotes, sales orders etc) and purchase orders. We call this "on-the-fly" invoicing because it lets you pick items from the stock control list and add them directly to an invoice or a purchase order as you go, simply by right-clicking and selecting to Invoice or Order the items. If you've got an invoice transaction already open in a window you can also drag item(s) from the stock control/products list and drop them onto the invoice. It's crazily easy to do!
You can also raise purchase orders directly from the stock Reorder Report. Again you select the items from the report that you want to order, right-click and select Order Items to add them to a new purchase order or drag them from the report on to an open purchase order window. If you didn't know about this before we're sure it'll be a real speed boost to your invoicing and/or purchase ordering.
We have a quick demo video which shows you how to invoice on-the-fly. It's a little dated now but the principles are still the same. See below :
A feature we added some time ago which has proved quite popular is the Quick Pay and Quick Allocate facilities. Quick Pay lets you record payments for a customer or supplier directly from within their history. Rather than having to open the Payments window you can simply select one or more invoices in the transactions list that you want to pay (hold down the Ctrl key to select more than one invoice) and then right-click and select Quick Pay from the menu. That's it!
Quick Allocate works in a similar way. Let's say you see a payment that's not been allocated. Select it in the history transactions list, hold down the Ctrl key and select the invoice(s) that you want to allocate it to. Right-click and select Quick Allocate and tah da! Pretty cool :)
We put together a quick demo video which shows you how to use Quick Pay and Quick Allocate. See below :
Avanti is, if we're being modest, quite simply the best, most cost effective desktop accounting software available for small businesses. We truly believe this and (we hope) our users do too. However we also appreciate that the Cloud is making huge changes to the way small businesses run their operations. Many new names have entered the cloud accounting software fray in recent years and have disrupted the industry massively. And we believe this is a great thing for small businesses and software companies alike. Let's face it a few big names had it all their own way in this sector for far too long!
At Avanti our journey to the Cloud has been a long and at times treacherous one. From attempts at trying to churn our existing software product into a Cloud solution (mistake!) to a huge and time-consuming retraining and R&D process, it's taken a huge effort to turn our focus from being desktop-only into a dual desktop and cloud focus. But that's what we're in the process of doing.
Our competitors who come from a desktop background we feel have taken the wrong path when it comes to the Cloud. They have effectively adopted an all-or-nothing approach by saying to their users it's either the Cloud or the Desktop and never the twain shall meet. Also they are clearly phasing out their desktop product in favour of their Cloud editions. We believe this is fundamentally the wrong strategy. Our approach is all about integration. We believe you should have both the cloud and desktop available and use either where each is best suited. On your mobile or tablet? Use the cloud. On your office PC? Use the desktop. At home on your Mac? Use the cloud. With our approach you have your data stored and accessed on your PC or internal server but also have it securely in the Cloud for backup and for remote access and let the software synch up between the two. Now isn't that the better answer? Of course, I hear you say!
With this approach and strategy in mind, we been developing our desktop product for the Cloud from scratch using the very latest, bleeding edge technologies for some time now. However it's a long process and we still have a way to go to achieve a cloud edition of Avanti that has feature-parity with our desktop software. Our dilemma is that users are demanding cloud functionality now, not in a year or a year and a half from now. And we want to give users what they want, it's sorta what we're here for.
With this in mind we've had to pivot on our plans to look at ways we can put the hard work we've put in so far for the Cloud, into the hands of users as soon as possible. So we've decided to expose our Cloud efforts into what we are calling Avanti Cloud Services (ACS). Avanti Cloud Services will be a way to perform a number of tasks in the Cloud. The information from your desktop will be uploaded to a secure cloud database so that it's available to our cloud services. Changes from both your desktop PC (or network server) and your cloud data will then be synched to keep everything righteous.
Initial cloud services will include some reporting and some transaction processing. This will be useful for accountants and other authorised remote users to access your information. We're also going to including a bank feeds service to automatically pull transaction information from your bank account as well as services to help you automate your credit control and recurring invoicing. Depending on the adoption rate and the feedback we get we'll then look to expose further services as we develop our Cloud edition.
We don't want to give speculative time scales for the availability of ACS at the moment but we'll keep updating you on the blog, on Twitter and in upcoming newsletters about the progress. However we're confident you'll have cloud services for your Avanti software very soon.
With this strategy, over time Avanti will be the only small business accounting software with both desktop and cloud editions that are fully integrated to give you the best of both worlds and help make the world a better place ;)
We've developed our software at such a pace over the past couple of years, adding over 100 new features and enhancements during that time, that we've found many users are simply not aware of many of the things they can now do with their accounting software.
One of these new features that we've discovered is being underused is attachments. A few days ago we explained to a user that they can attach just about any file, whether a letter or a remittance advice or a picture of a receipt taken on an iPhone, to any customer, supplier, stock/product or transaction. It was also revealed to them that they can link any web address to these records as well. Once the benefits of being able to do this was realised we got a "I didn't know I could do that"" response. We love those kinds of responses!
Keeping documents and other subsiduary files linked to records in your accounting software is a feature every user can take advantage of. Take a look at the video below for a demo on how to do it.
One of the most common questions we get asked, especially this time of year, is how to record Corporation Tax in your Avanti accounting software - extremely important if you're running a Limited company. Fortunately we have a handy little document which explains our recommended process for doing this. Happy reading!
The Sales section in Avanti accounting software displays a list of all of your sales document transactions. By default it literally lists ALL of your sales transactions. Once you've been using the software for a while, maybe several years, the number of sales transactions can run into thousands and maybe tens of thousands. The process of loading all of these records into the Sales section can start to slow the software down.
It's not just the process of initially loading the records either. Whenever you make a change to an invoice or even print an invoice, the software updates the record and to show the change it has to refresh the list - which means reloading all of those records from scratch. Over time this can make the software appear sluggish. However there is a way to return it back to it's snappy former self.
Chances are you really do not need all of the transactions you're loading into the list. For example you don't need to always have transactions from 2012 listed because the chances of you needing them at your fingertips are slim to none. Yet they're slowing down your software. The best way therefore to speed things up is simply to reduce the amount of information which is getting loaded into the Sales list to just include the sales transactions that are relevant to you now ie. for the last year or maybe just the last 3 or 6 months.
You can do this by setting a date filter*. You do this by mousing over or clicking on the Settings tab on the left-hand side of the Sales section. You will see a Filter box with a date box labelled "Include Transactions From ...". You simply enter a date to start including transactions from. When you enter a date the Sales list will refresh to include only the transactions on or after the date you have selected. All other transaction are still there in your database, they just don't get loaded into the list and therefore make the software a lot more responsive as you carry out your day-to-day tasks. If you need to look back for transactions further than this you simply change the filter date or click the Reset link next to the date box to reload everything again.
The date filter setting you make will be retrieved whenever you open the Sales section in future. To ensure there's no confusion the software displays the filter date in the top right of the Sales section, so if at any point you wonder where all of your data has gone, it reminds you that there's a filter in place.
*Not to be confused with "in-list" filters which perform filtering based on the information which is already loaded into a list. The filter setting we're discussing here is used to limit the amount of data which actually gets loaded into the sales list in the first place.
If you invoice the same customers on a regular basis for the same products or services then the recurring invoicing feature in Avanti accounting software will save you tons of effort and time. Indeed if you just regularly issue the same or similar invoices on an irregular basis it could still automate a lot of the keying in. In this post we will go through how to get them set-up.
Recurring invoicing is built around the notion of Templates. Templates can be used for any type of regular transaction that you may want to repeat but really come into their own with recurring invoicing. You can create a template as you would a standard invoice. We'll start however by opening the Recurring option by clicking the Recurring button in the Sales section. The Recurring window shows you a list of all of the Templates that you have set-up. The templates are shown in the list at the top and in the list at the bottom it will show you the history of invoices that have actually been generated from each template as you select them in the template list.
To create a new template click on the New button on the toolbar in the Recurring window. This will open the standard invoice entry window and you can enter the details of the invoice that you want to recur onto the template. Notice the Recurring button at the bottom of the invoice entry window. By clicking this button you can set-up how your template will recur. You can give the template a description to identify it. You can select a frequency that you want the invoice to recur using the options in the drop-down list, for example weekly, monthly, yearly etc. If you don't want the template to recur on a regular basis you can simply select None from the options list. Finally specify the date that you want the invoice to next recur. Click OK and when you save the template these details will be recorded with it. That's all there is to it!
Note : If you have an invoice to raise immediately that you want to repeat in the future, you can enter and record the invoice as you would normally but click the Recurring button before you save and define the recurring information as explained above. This will create the invoice and then record a template automatically that will be used to repeat the invoice in future.
If you want to generate invoices from a template on an irregular basis you can click the Updates button on the toolbar. This lists all templates and you simply tick the Update column for the templates you want to generate invoices for and click the Update button to generate them.
Now that you have your recurring template set-up, when it becomes due it will pop-up to remind you when you open the software. This happens in a similar way to the standard Recurring Entries reminders. You simply select or deselect the templates you want to process an invoice for and click the Update button and it's all done for you. It even gives you the option to Print or Email the generated invoice(s) right there and then if you want to.
As you can see it's really simple and quick to setup and automate your repeat invoices using the recurring invoicing facilities in Avanti accounting software. We hope you'll use it and see how much time it can save you.
A great feature which we introduced in Avanti accounting software some time ago is the Quick Product Search. This enables you to carry out really flexible searches for items during invoice entry and not only by doing general searches but also by querying the customer's buying history. For example you want to search for an item which the customer bought previously but they can't remember the product or stock code. You can search for a partial description and you can tell it to locate the matching items only based on items that the customer has previously purchased. You can also search and add multiple items to the invoice at once without having to leave the search option.
The Quick Product Search is such a useful feature yet we've been surprised by how few users actually know it's even there! If you haven't taken advantage of this feature you can do so simply by clicking the magnifying glass button above the item list in invoice entry.
A full demo of this feature is given in the short video below. For more demo videos take a look at our YouTube channel
Sometimes it's necessary to write off a bad debt and we've published our recommended way to record the necessary entries in your Avanti accounting software.
Avanti has experienced strong growth over recent months and we are embarking on an ambitious expansion plan. To help to facilitate the next stage of our growth Brenden Holt has joined the team. Brenden is an experienced & highly successful technology entrepreneur and brings a wealth of experience in helping software companies develop and grow.
We'd like to welcome Brenden to Avanti and say we're absolutely delighted to have him onboard. As a team we can look forward to an exciting time ahead.
One of the first steps we have taken is to develop a new website, www.avantiaccounts.co.uk. The previous address, www.avantisoftware.co.uk, will also still be live for the time being.
Look out for further announcements soon.
We have now released Avanti Version 3.1, the Autumn 2014 update release.
Version 3.1 focuses on delivering a number of the most requested features by users including the introduction of Customer & Supplier Groups and also custom document types enabling you to create your own sales documents such as delivery notes, sales advices, collection notes, debit notes etc. Full details of the changes in Version 3.1 are available by clicking here.
If you're an Avanti user with the relevant subscription you'll receive your update shortly.
We are absolutely delighted to finally announce the release and general availability of Avanti Version 3!
Version 3 represents a huge body of work, not just in all of the new features and enhancements we've included but in the "under-the-hood" restructuring programme which we carried out to make possible a number of new features in V3 and a huge number of possible features in the future.
If you're a current Avanti subscriber then you'll receive your update shortly. If you're an Avanti user without an update subscription you'll be getting details on how you can update to Version 3 in the coming days.
Keep checking back and we'll be releasing more information shortly.