Small Business Stuff

Derek Atkins warlord@MIT.EDU
28 Jun 2002 15:47:26 -0400

[sorry if you receive this twice -- had a mailer oops -derek]

It's been a bit over a year since you sent this to gnucash-devel.
Over the last few months I've been doing a lot of work to try to build
a customer/vendor, job-tracking and invoicing system into Gnucash.
All the code is currently in CVS, and I believe it is ready for people
to start testing.

This version allows you to define your Customers and Vendors, and
define Jobs within those domains.  You can create, apply, and print,
and keep track of bills and payments in A/R and A/P.  There are
overall aging reports and per-customer account-history/aging reports

There currently is not a tie into Evolution (I expect that will happen
in the next release of gnucash, not the upcoming release).  I also do
not have an inventory tracking or asset-tracking (depreciation)
system.  Nor do I currently do "time sheets" (per se).

At this point, I'd appreciate it if people would start to at least
look at the current code in CVS, compile it, run it, play with it, and
let me know what you like/dislike.  File bug reports in bugzilla, and
help me make it a more usable subsystem.

I acknowledge that what's currently there is extremely rough; it's
probably missing some nice shortcuts or even has some glaring
functional problems that I haven't noticed myself.  The only way to
detect this is for people to start using it.  So, consider this a
call-to-action to help me test.



"Michael Fair" <> writes:

> I met with jsled on #gnucash last night and after
> speaking with him about a sole proprietor focused
> edition of GNUCash and he recommended I drop a line
> here to see if we can start a thread on the small
> business topic to archive some of the ideas.
>  Specifically I can talk about what what my needs are
> and how I would like them solved, and that seemed to 
>  be of value to discussions for those of you working 
>  on implementing it.
> I run a sole proprietorship, and know two others 
>  who could also use a small business accounting 
> package but haven't found the need to justify the 
> cost of buying a "Commercial Off The Shelf" solution 
> just yet.  
>  I currently use PeachTree's Complete Accounting and mostly 
>  feel overwhelmed by it, in addition it is really defaulted 
>  for a product based business where I am much more service 
> oriented, doing computer and network consulting.  The other
> two people do not have any current package, my sister is a 
> massage therapist, and another friend is a contract artist 
> who does custom mural work, her own gallery presentations, 
> and other contract art.
>  The three of us are all mostly services with some 
> products businesses and we are out in the field as 
> well as in the office having to followup on leads and
> manage clients as part of our core bussiness.
> Most of the conversation on the IRC channel was a blue sky
> dream come true of what I was looking for, and I believe
> we narrowed it down to a good subset.
> I don't know how much of this the developers have already
> decided on, so please forgive any repetitve or contradictory
> comments I might make in this email.
> Our businesses run pretty much as follows:
> 1) We do some advertising (mostly word-of-mouth)
> 2) We book appointments (billable time here/calandering)
> 3) We do the job keeping the expense records
> 4) We bill the customer expenses plus labor
> 5) We manage payment of the invoice
> 6) We manage our "back office" expenditures
> 7) We do our taxes based on the prior profits/expenses
>  I was looking at GNUCash as a total Small Business Manager 
> as opposed to just a financial ledger.  This however may
> not be the role GNUCash wants/should play.
>  I heard that integration with Evolution was being discussed
> which is perfect for what I envisioned.  Evolution can handle 
>  most the contact management stuff like contact info, scheduling, 
>  and email correspondence, but there is also meta-data associated 
>  with that client (for instance what computer they have, what 
> domain names I host for them, and what the administrative 
> password for their router is in the case of a computer client) 
> that I want to be able to create/modify somewhere in the package.
> It turns out that one of the key questions is what domain of
> problem does GNUCash solve when it comes to Small Business.
> - General Journal Ledger is obvious
> - Creating an invoice and managing the payments made on the invoice
>     is another highly likely candidate
> - But what about Job tracking and assigning costs/payments (line 
>     items) to those jobs.  For instance, in our discussion we found 
>     an almost one-to-one mapping between what I was calling a job and 
>     what is currently considered an account.  Essentially each customer
>     would have an account, and each "job" would be a sub-account that 
>     would be created, filled with items (items being costs and payments)
>     and then closed upon job completion.  The only difference we
>     found was that these line items could have some domain specific 
>     properties that could be helpful.
> - Inventory management has almost nothing to do with general
>     ledger finances but is vitally important to some businesses.
>     I suppose if you looked at it the right way, invotory items
>     could be treated just like currency. Each inventory item could
>     be looked at as a form of currency, and the "conversion rate"
>     would be the price.  So you would debit "Checking" by $XX.XX
>     and increase "Widgets" by however many "Widgets" $XX.XX
>     got you.  Unfortuantely this conversion rate is not fixed.
>     You give people discounted, or inflated rates, you buy at
>     cheaper or more expensive rates so it doesn't exaclty map
>     across easily unless the conversion rate can be set per instance.
> - Being able to purchase and then depreciate assets would be great
>     especially come tax time and is a financial value related field.
>     However I do not understand this aspect of financing so can't
>     say much about it.
> There were some other items discussed, and the GUI used to interface
> into these items is also of paramount importance to me since that
> is how I will interact with the data.  This further emphasizes the 
> need to define the set of problems that GNUCash is going to be the 
> solution for.  For instance, sending email to the customer and 
> tracking their current contact information is clearly not within 
> the realm of GNUCash's domain (Evolution is an ideal candidate for
> that), I would even say that the customer meta-data that I mentioned 
>  is also not in the GNUCash domain.  GNUCash should be able to access 
> and update both those items in a seemless manner.
> It's almost like there's this customer in an OS defined database
> that is nothing more than an object name with no other info.
> Then Evolution comes along and makes this customer reachable.
> Then GNUCash comes along and gives us the ability to exchange
>     financial transactions with this client.
> Then some other program comes along and gives us the ability
>     to keep track of router passwords and account names associated
>     to that customer.
> Then some other program helps us do project management/job tracking
>     to help with what the customer has hired us for.
> Or another way to look at it would be, the Small Business manager 
> program comes along and adds contact information through the 
> Evolution engine, and begins to track and manage jobs done for 
> this customer using the GNUCash engine to store and track all 
> the account information, and then the Small Business program 
> continues to add the appropriate meta-data values that go with 
> each class of object added to this customer (for instance, if they 
> have me install a router for them, storing those router settings 
> is important, if I host a domain for them then I have another
> set of values (on per domain basis)) through some other 
> yet-to-be-defined application.
> -- Michael --
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> gnucash-devel mailing list

       Derek Atkins, SB '93 MIT EE, SM '95 MIT Media Laboratory
       Member, MIT Student Information Processing Board  (SIPB)
       URL:    PP-ASEL-IA     N1NWH
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