Item Groups and Kits
Hello and welcome to our bi-weekly series, Ask the Professor, where we tackle a question from you, our viewers. Today’s question comes from Justin. Justin’s question is:
We’re encountering issues with our bundles. We have about a thousand items in a bundle but NetSuite Sales Orders max out at 500 lines. Is there a way to fix this issue so we can still report at an item level but sell to a customer at a bundle level? The lines all populate below the bundle and error out on us.
Before I address the question, I want to clear up some terminology. Justin and I emailed back and forth a few times, and what he is referring to as bundles are actually item groups. It’s also worth noting that I believe Justin has an answer to the question at this point, however for anyone else out there with this problem I would like to go over a few solutions. Now, I will note, this is a somewhat edge question because I think most businesses that use NetSuite are not creating sales orders with more than 500 lines. But if you are one, then this solution may apply to you.
So, I want to start by saying that I have actually never heard of NetSuite having a limit of 500 lines per sales order, however until now I had never seen or created a sales order with that many lines. Since 500 lines is a lot to test, and watching me enter that many lines into a sales order would be rather boring, I went ahead and created a sales order with this many lines ahead of time. I have it open here in edit mode and if I scroll down you can see there are currently 533 lines, though they are only shown 25 lines per page. I had no problem creating this either. I did create this using item groups though, but I also tried as an import and still had no problems. Since entering 500 lines would take some time, I think the problem that you are more likely to encounter is that NetSuite, the program, times out. That is to say, if you are manually entering a large sales order, your session in NetSuite may time out. That’s because there isn’t really any back and forth conversation between your computer and NetSuite’s servers going on, so NetSuite thinks, hey, maybe this guy stepped away from his computer, so it logs you out. When you go to submit the sales order you are logged out of NetSuite and you would get an error message. To remedy this, you could open another tab, and simply refresh that tab every twenty to thirty minutes, or however long you have your timeouts in NetSuite set for. This will prevent your browser session from timing out. But I’ll go ahead and close this tab because I don’t need it.
My first thought when I looked at this question was pretty simple, it was to use Item Groups. Let me show you what I’m talking about. If I hover over Lists, then Accounting, then Items, and select New, I am taken to this screen where I can create a new item. I’ll go ahead and choose Item Group to create a single selectable item made up of several other items. Let me actually switch the form to the “Standard Group Item Form” before I scroll past it. In this screen, you can create a single item that is actually made up of multiple items. I can choose a few items down here. I’ll add this AC1 and click add, and this AC2 and click add. If I were to go back up and give this item a name I could save it. Before I do that though, I want to call your attention to this checkbox over here, titled “Display Components on Transactions”. It stands to reason that if I checked this box I would get all the components of this group displayed on my transactions, such as sales orders, however if I don’t check the box then I wouldn’t have them displayed. But that’s not exactly accurate. Whether I check this box or not, the subcomponents are going to populate on a sales order, and in other display forms. This box applies to printed forms, and when I print the sales order the effects of this box will be shown. Now I’m not actually going to save this item because I have already created a couple of items that can be used to show you how this works.
Let’s create a new sales order by going to Transactions, Sales, and selecting Enter Sales Orders. I’ll go ahead and select a customer, and now I can enter a couple of items. I called all the items we will be using for this demo, test something, so if I start typing in test I get this “Test Item Group with Display Components”. I’ll select this item and click add. I also need to click okay to this warning dialog. This is just telling me that I don’t have any of this product to ship, but that’s okay, it won’t affect our test anyway. It’s no surprise that all the components are filled in, and we can even see a line for the end of the group. However, if I choose this “Test Item Group without Display Components”, we can see that the components that make up this item are also filled in. Just to show you, let’s take a look at the item itself. I’ll go up to my search box and type item:test, and open up the item we just added, this one without display components checked. And I’ll open this in a new tab so we can leave the sales order open. If I scroll down and go to the manufacturing tab, we can see that it does not have the display components box checked. But let’s go back to our sales order, and I’ll also get rid of what’s up here in the search box. I’ll go ahead and save this SO. Now if I print this let’s take a look at the printout. Let me zoom in a little bit so we can see some detail. On the printed form, only the Test Item that has the display components box selected is actually printing its components.
Back when we created our Item Group there were a couple of other options. If we go back to Lists, Accounting, Items and New, we can see there are also options for Assemblies and for Kits. I want to discourage you from using assemblies just to bundle multiple items together, because in most cases they are not what you will be looking for. And based on the way this question was worded, they are not what I think Justin was looking for either. The reason for this is that assemblies typically are tied to work orders, though this is not always the case, and because they are generally made up of components that are assembled to make a final product. Think about a computer as an assembly, there is a case, hard drive, motherboard, processor, ram, operating system, and other components that make up the computer. There is also time to put the computer together and install the operating system which is what makes up the work order.
The last option here is kits, and kits are just groups of items that naturally belong together and are sold together. If you’ve ever purchased a bed set that comes with sheets, pillows, pillowcases, a comforter, and a blanket, well that’s what a kit is. Though if you want to group items together but only have one line show on a sales order, the kit is a good way to do that too. It is certainly better than an assembly in most cases. Let’s go ahead and start creating a kit. Again, I’m going to change this back to the Standard Form. One of the things that you will notice about kits that we didn’t see on Groups is that there is a Pricing tab. This is because kits have their own pricing that is not actually tied to the components. So, a kit might be more than the sum of the components, or it might be less. Because of this it’s also going to report differently than a group would, or than just adding the components to the sales order would. Now much like the group, kits also have this display components check box, but it also works for printed transactions rather than those you view on screen. There is one small difference though, and we can see this in a Sales Order. Since I have already created a couple of kits we can use to test, I won’t save this one.
If I start a new Sales Order, and we’ll give this a moment to load. I’ll go ahead and pick a customer since I need one to be able to add items. Now if I scroll down to the bottom I’ll add this “Test Kit without Display Components”. Again, I need to click okay to acknowledge that I have no stock on hand. Notice that the components that make up the kit are not displayed, so it works. Or does it? Let’s add this “Test Kit with Display Components”, and click okay to the warning dialog. Sure enough, this one does not show any components either. This is because kits generally don’t show their components. But let’s see how this looks when it’s printed. To do that I need to save the sales order. Now if I print it, and zoom in a bit so it’s legible, we can see the top one printed without the components, whereas the bottom one has the components listed below it.
Now, to come back to Justin’s problem, and how I would solve it. First, I would try to avoid having a user enter 500 lines into a sales order in NetSuite. This takes up too much time, is prone to errors that would be difficult to correct, and if there is a communication issue while saving the sales order then you have just lost all that time and effort. If there is consistency in what is being entered, meaning that there are dozens of different items, but always the same set, then I would use item groups. At least if you want to see all the items on their own line. If you want to see component items rolled up, and there is consistency then I would use kits. If there is not consistency then I would use an excel spread sheet, or any other type of spreadsheet. Save it as a CSV, and use the import assistant in NetSuite. The import assistant can be found here, under Setup, Import/Export, Import CSV Records. Lastly, if you really do want to use NetSuite’s user interface to enter sales orders this large, I would recommend saving the sales orders intermittently. Remember you can always come back and edit a sales order later, and you can setup NetSuite so it does not send anything to customers until sales orders are finalized.
Justin, thanks for the question, and we hope this is a sufficient answer to set you up for success. If you have questions you would like us to answer please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or just let us know what you think. You can visit us on the web at www.erpprofessor.com, or connect with us on social media with the following links. Thanks for watching.