Fishbowl Inventory Custom Tracking

Fishbowl Inventory gives you the ability to set up custom tracking on each of your parts.  For example, if you need to keep track of a Batch Number, or Creation Date for your parts, you can create custom tracking for your parts, and then add the information as your inventory comes into Fishbowl Inventory via Purchase Orders, Work Orders, etc.

Red 3D barcode

The Setup

The setup is fairly simple.  Just go into the Part Module, and then open the Module Options (click Tools->Module Options).  Once you’re in the Module Options, navigate to the “Tracking” tab.  You should see some tracking options that come with the database by default.  You can either edit the existing tracking options, or you can create a new one.

You will have eight options when choosing what type of tracking you’re dealing with:

  • Text
  • Date
  • Expiration Date
  • Serial Number
  • Money
  • Quantity
  • Count
  • Checkbox

Once you determine the type and have entered the Name and Abbreviation, you can then begin activating that tracking for all of the parts you want to track.

Activate Custom Tracking on Your Parts

After you have created your custom tracking options, you need to determine which of your parts you want to track by those options.  To turn the tracking on, open the part and navigate to the “Details” tab.  About halfway down the page, you will see the Tracking section.  You will click the checkbox to the left of the tracking option and then save your changes.  If you have inventory already on hand for that part, you will be prompted to enter the tracking information for that inventory before you can continue to the next activity.

How Custom Tracking Comes Into Play

As soon as you bring new inventory into your Fishbowl Inventory database, you will have to assign the tracking information (if your parts are tracked, that is).  Once the tracking information has been assigned, you will then be able to see that information in the Inventory Module.  You will also be required to choose specific tracking information when picking inventory for Sales Orders, Manufacture Orders, etc.  Essentially, the tracking information follows the part from the beginning of its life cycle in Fishbowl Inventory until it leaves the system.

Remember: if you decide to use custom tracking in your Fishbowl Inventory database, you are making a commitment.  Tracking your parts brings an extra layer of accountability, and therefore, it takes more effort on your part.  Some people go into it blindly, and then find that they become swamped with the extra effort that they are putting into their system.  If nothing else, be prepared for the extra time you will spend in Fishbowl.

As always, feel free to comment or contact us with any questions you have.

Changing Units of Measure in Fishbowl Inventory

Units of Measure can be a tricky thing in Fishbowl Inventory, especially if you are trying to change them after your parts have already been loaded.  Here are a few things you need to be aware of when trying to change your Parts’ Units of Measure.

Unit of Measure

You May Need to Remove the Vendor Association

If your Vendor’s Units of Measure don’t match the Unit of Measure that you intend for your Part, Fishbowl Inventory will not allow it.  The vendor’s Unit of Measure must match the new Unit of Measure.  Alternatively, you can remove the Vendor associations, and then restore them after the change has been made.

You Must Remove the Part From Associated Bills of Materials

If your part is on a Bill of Materials, you cannot change the Unit of Measure for that part.  You will have to remove the part from any Bills of Materials that it is associated with, even if the Unit of Measure on the Bill of Materials matches your desired Part Unit of Measure.

The Part and Associated Products Cannot be on Any Open Orders

There’s no way around this.  If your part is on any open orders, or if an associated product is on any open orders, you cannot change the Unit of Measure of the part.  This includes Estimates and Bid Requests.  You will have to either remove the part from open orders or fulfill the orders to then be able to change the Unit of Measure.

You Cannot Change From Any Unit of Measure to “Each”

If you want to change your unit of measure to “Each”, you are out of luck.  The only way to change a Part’s Unit of Measure to “Each” is to inactivate the part, change the part number so that it can be reused, and then create a new part with the “Each” Unit of Measure.

The best course of action, as always, is to double-check that your Units of Measure are correct when you first upload them.  But, if it’s too late for that, follow the above steps to make the needed changes.

As always, leave a comment, or contact us with any feedback or questions.

Fishbowl Inventory Reports

Fishbowl Inventory has a large selection of standard reports available (over 150 last time we counted).  These reports can help you understand what is happening in your company by showing you your Purchases and Sales, Inventory Asset Values, and Manufacturing activities, to name a few.  Here are some tips that can help you make the most out of your Fishbowl reports.

Fishbowl Inventory Reports

Using the “Modify Report” Filters

When you open a report, you will see an icon at the top-left of the report with the words “Modify Report” beneath it.  If you click the icon, a window will pop up that displays all of the available filters for that report.  Some of these filters can mean the difference in whether or not a report is useful to your company.

We recommend that you play around with the filters to see how they affect your reports.  If you find some filters that you would like to apply to the report every time you open it, set your desired filters and then click the little blue disk at the bottom-left of the “Modify Report” window.  Now, every time you run the report, it will automatically apply your saved filters.

Module Associations

The Reports Module holds all of the reports that are available in Fishbowl Inventory.  What if, however, you want to access a report from a different module?  For example, you want to see the Inventory Availability report in the Sales Order Module.  To make this happen, access the report in the Reports Module, and then click the “Details” tab at top of the report, and then scroll down the list until you find the desired Module.  Then, simply place a checkmark in the box next to the module, and from then on, you will be able to access the report within the associated module.

What if The Report I Need Doesn’t Exist in Fishbowl?

Fishbowl Inventory reports are written in a 3rd-party application called iReport.  In order to create a custom report, or modify an existing one, you will have to use iReport to do so.  Alternatively, you can have a professional report writer create the report for you.  There are a few report writers out there that have been creating reports for Fishbowl Inventory users for a long time (us included).  These reports can be customized to display almost any information you need.  This is the preferred route of many Fishbowl Inventory users, because it is faster, and easier, to have a report writer do the work for you.

Feel free to comment below if you have any feedback about this post.  And, as always, contact us if you have any questions about reports.

QuickBooks Integration

Fishbowl Inventory has the ability to integrate with QuickBooks to give you the power of an accounting system paired with advanced inventory and manufacturing.

QuickBooks and Fishbowl Together

What Happens When I Start Using Fishbowl?

Most people that we work with are familiar with QuickBooks and have been using it for years as their accounting and inventory control software.  In time, though, those same people realize that they need more robust inventory control and/or manufacturing capabilities than what QuickBooks has to offer.  That’s where Fishbowl Inventory comes into play.

Fishbowl Inventory will become the daily order-entry system.  In other words, you will do your purchases, manufacturing (if applicable), inventory control, and sales through Fishbowl Inventory.  Then, as you complete your transactions, the financial information will transfer to QuickBooks where you will run your Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, and all other financial aspects of your business.

What if I Don’t Use QuickBooks?

Fishbowl Inventory can be used as standalone software, but our advice for those who aren’t using QuickBooks: get QuickBooks.  The integration (which is built into Fishbowl already) will make your life much simpler and will help keep your financials in order.

Fishbowl Inventory has the capability to send invoices and purchase orders to customers and vendors.  Keep in mind, though, that it doesn’t keep track of which invoices and purchase orders have been sent out.  Nor does it give you any kind of accounts payable or accounts receivable totals.  On top of that, your accountant will be much happier if the information is in QuickBooks, come tax time.

Feel free to comment below with your experiences.  Or, contact us with any questions you have.

Fishbowl Inventory Custom Fields

Fishbowl Inventory gives you the option to add custom fields to almost every module within the software.  These custom fields can be searched when you do an “Advanced Search”, which can be done in most of the modules.  They can also be used in a variety of ways to help you track certain information on your customers, parts, orders, etc.  And the custom fields can even be added to Fishbowl Inventory reports.  Remember, though, that the reports will have to be customized to pull the information from the custom fields.

Fishbowl Inventory Custom Fields


What Types of Custom Fields Can I Create?

There are nine types of custom fields that can be set up within the modules.  Here’s a list:

  • Text (A field that will hold small amounts of information)
  • Date (Numeric only)
  • Money (Numeric only)
  • Quantity (Numeric only)
  • Count (Numeric only)
  • Checkbox (A checkbox that denotes yes/no, true/false situations)
  • List (A drop-down list that is pre-populated for use within the assigned module)
  • Radio Button Group (Choose between two or more options.  An option must be chosen for each instance.  It cannot be left blank.)
  • Long Text (A field where you can type large amounts of data.)

How Can Custom Fields be Used?

Let’s say you have multiple product types, and you want to keep track of which types of products are returned most often.  To do so, you can easily set up a List-type custom field for the Product Module and create a list of all of your product types.  Then you can customize a report that will pull the information you’re looking for.  Remember, though, that you will need to assign the product type to each of the products that you want to track by this metric.

Or, if you need to track your sales by region, you can create a custom field for the Sales Order Module where you can enter the region on each sales order.  Then, get a custom report that will pull the information into an easy-to-read format, and you will have valuable information that can help you grow your business even more.

Those are just a couple of examples for using custom fields in Fishbowl Inventory.  There are many ways to leverage custom fields to benefit your company.

Feel free to leave a comment below, or contact us if you have any specific questions about using custom fields in your Fishbowl Inventory database.

Fishbowl Inventory Module Options

While Fishbowl Inventory is not a custom program, there are many settings you can change to make it more “custom” to your business and the processes within your company.  Once all of your information has been uploaded into your Fishbowl Inventory database, it might be wise for you to peruse the Module Options that are found throughout the software.  Some of them can mean the difference between spending hours of extra work versus having those things automated for you.

Power Button Cropped

Where are the Module Options?

As you access each module, you will be able to open the Module Options for that module.  To find them, open the “Tools” menu, and then click “Module Options”.  Remember that when you move to a different module in Fishbowl Inventory, the options will change to match the module that is currently open.

A large concentration of the Module Options can be found in the Accounting Module, the Sales Order Module, and the Picking Module.  While these are important, don’t forget that almost all of the modules in Fishbowl Inventory have at least one Module Option.

We recommend that you go through each module to figure out which options work best for you.

Don’t forget the Program Options

Another little-known fact is that Fishbowl Inventory also has some Program Options.  These can be accessed from any module in Fishbowl by clicking the “Tools” menu, and selecting “Program Options”.  While the Program Options are mostly cosmetic, there is a handy Email tab where you can enter your email information that will then be used whenever you send an email.  This includes the ability to create custom personalized emails for Sales Order confirmations, Purchase Orders, and Shipping confirmations.

For a full list of Module Options, visit the Fishbowl Inventory wiki page.

As always, feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Fishbowl Inventory Order of Imports

Creating a Spreadsheet on a LaptopIf you are using import files to create a new database in Fishbowl Inventory, you might be overwhelmed by the number of import files and you might not know where to begin.  We’ve listed the suggested order of imports below, with some tips, to help you get started on the right foot.

Suggested Order of Imports

Here’s a list, taken directly from the FishbowlInventory wiki page that gives a list of the order of imports:

  1. Units of Measure
  2. Unit of Measure Conversions
  3. Location Groups/Locations
  4. User/User Rights
  5. Payment Terms
  6. Carriers
  7. Custom Fields
  8. Vendors*
  9. Tax Rates
  10. Customers*
  11. Customer Group Relations
  12. Part Product And Vendor Pricing*
  13. Kit Items
  14. Default Locations
  15. Add Inventory*
  16. Bill of Materials*
  17. Product Tree Categories
  18. Product Tree
  19. Pricing Rules
  20. Sales Orders*
  21. Purchase Orders*

* This is essential data needed to utilize Fishbowl’s features.

The list above will help you set up a robust database that will unlock most of the features in Fishbowl.  However, what if you just want to do the basics?

The Bare Essentials

If you are in a rush to get started with Fishbowl Inventory, you can upload your Vendors, Customers, Parts, and Products.  That’s it.  You can add all of the other stuff later to make the database more robust.  This comes with a caveat, though.  For example, if your Vendors or Customers have special payment terms, you will need to bring in those payment terms before uploading your Customers or Vendors.

The same thing goes with your Parts and Products list (see this blog post for more information about the difference between Parts and Products).  If your Parts or Products use Units of Measure that don’t exist in the default list, you will need to add those Units of Measure first.

Here is a modified list that shows the basic information that you need to have in Fishbowl before being able to use the system:

  1. Units of Measure
  2. Unit of Measure Conversions
  3. Location Groups/Locations
  4. User/User Rights
  5. Payment Terms
  6. Carriers
  7. Custom Fields
  8. Vendors*
  9. Tax Rates
  10. Customers*
  11. Customer Group Relations
  12. Part Product And Vendor Pricing* (You can also use the individual Part and Product imports, if this one is too big to chew)
  13. Kit Items
  14. Default Locations
  15. Add Inventory*
  16. Bill of Materials*
  17. Product Tree Categories
  18. Product Tree
  19. Pricing Rules
  20. Sales Orders*
  21. Purchase Orders*

Additional Imports

These imports, that aren’t covered in the list provided on the Fishbowl Inventory wiki page, can also be helpful:

  1. Associated Pricing
  2. Country And State
  3. Currency
  4. Customer Parts
  5. Discounts
  6. Product Pricing
  7. QuickBooks Class
  8. Reorder Levels
  9. Vendor Cost Rules
  10. Vendor Parts

Please leave a comment if you have questions or experience using import files that could help others who are beginning their journey.

Fishbowl Inventory Imports

Importing information into Fishbowl Inventory can be tricky, but it can also be the fastest way to build a new database or update existing information en masse.  Find some helpful tips below about Fishbowl Inventory imports.


Create an entry in Fishbowl Inventory, and then export the file

Fishbowl Inventory has the option to export a blank file to use as a template when preparing your information for importing.  While this is a great option, it may be a little daunting trying to figure out what information goes into each column.  For that reason, we recommend that you create an entry (e.g. Part Number, Customer, Vendor, Pricing Rule, etc.) in Fishbowl first, and then export the related file.  Like magic, your file will have the information already filled in below the headers, which takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation.

Of course, if you still have questions, you can refer to the instructions for the related import file.  These can be found in the import wizard, after you have chosen the type of import from the list, and have advanced to the next screen.

Watch out for re-formatting

One of the difficulties of using Microsoft Excel for importing large amounts of data into Fishbowl is the fact that Excel likes to re-format certain numbers or lines of text.

Here are some examples:

  1. If you are working with UPC numbers, you will need to be very careful that Excel does not put them into scientific notation format (which it will do, by default).  If you type “123456789123” into a cell, Excel will change it to be “1.23457E+11”.  If left in that format, the UPC code will transfer into Fishbowl as the 1.23457E+11, rather than the actual UPC code.
  2. Zip codes that start with “0” (zero).  Excel likes to remove those leading zeros.  And it’s not just zip codes.  Really, any number that starts with zero can be included in this example.
  3. Text and number strings that resemble dates or months.  Something like “01OCT” will be reformatted to be “1-Oct”.

How do you fix these auto-corrections?  You will want to change the format of the cells to “Text”.  To do so, right-click on the cell, column, or row that you want to change to text, and then choose “Format Cells” from the list.  In the next screen, you will choose “Text” from the list and then click “OK”.  Now you can type your information into Excel without having to worry that it will be reformatted, and therefore imported incorrectly into Fishbowl.


Watch for misalignment

Be aware that if you delete a cell, you will need to delete the entire row.  Otherwise, your data can become misaligned.  One of the worst things that can happen is to delete a part number from a list of 10,000 part numbers, while the rest of the row is not deleted with the part number.  When that happens, your part numbers will shift up a cell, while their descriptions, Units of Measure, Tracking Fields, etc. stay behind.  If you then import the file, your parts list will have the incorrect information associated.

If all else fails, remove the line

One of the most frustrating aspects of importing information into Fishbowl Inventory is when you receive error messages after waiting for 10-15 minutes for the file to complete importing.  If you correct the error on the specified line, and then import again, only to get an error message on the same line again, it is time to remove that line and try importing again.

If you are getting error messages at least a 3rd of the way down the import file, we recommend that you create a separate import file of the lines above the error message, and import that piece.  Remember to remove those lines from the original import file so that you’re not trying to import the same information multiple times.  This will help cut down on the wait time and will help you narrow down the issues.

As always, feel free to contact us with any questions you have about Fishbowl Inventory imports, or anything else Fishbowl Inventory-related.

Setting up a New Fishbowl Inventory Database

Setting up a new database in Fishbowl Inventory can be a big task.  In our last post, we discussed the options available to you when setting up a Fishbowl database.  For some of you brave souls out there, one of the options was to do the setup on your own.  Our hope is that this post will help you with the database portion of your Fishbowl Inventory implementation.

Database Creation

Create a New Database

When Fishbowl is first installed on your server computer, an example database is included with the installation.  You will need to create a new database into which you will begin setting up your information.  Visit Fishbowl Inventory’s wiki page for step-by-step instructions on creating a new database.

Input Your Data

Once you have created your database, you need to then add data to your database.  This comes in the form of Customers, Vendors, Parts, Products, Bills of Materials, Inventory, etc.  This must be done in an orderly fashion, which we will explain in next week’s post.  For now, be aware that this is the most time-consuming, and probably the most difficult, portion of your Fishbowl Inventory Implementation.

Set up Your Integrations

Fishbowl Inventory can be a stand-alone software.  However, there are many other pieces of software that can be integrated with Fishbowl Inventory to make your life easier.  Some examples include QuickBooks (which is the most common integration, and the reason Fishbowl is such a popular inventory solution for QuickBooks users), UPS Worldship, FedEx Shipstation, LilyPad products, etc.  Some of these integrations come in the form of standard Fishbowl Inventory plugins.  Others, such as custom shopping cart integrations, take longer to program, and will require installation by the developers.  In either case, these integrations can impact your business in a way that will improve your efficiency and accuracy.

Don’t Let the Winds of Change Blow You Away

Changes are coming in 2017!  Make sure your anchors are ready before you set sail.

Sailing rough waters

Changes to Fishbowl Inventory

As we mentioned in our last Blog Post, Fishbowl Inventory is getting a major overhaul to its database.  These changes could make for some very large waves when it comes to integrated apps and custom reports.  Plus, there will be some new features that you might need help navigating.

Anchor Yourself to our Support

We want to provide you with the best customer service available in the industry.  So far, we think we’re doing a great job!  Therefore, to help you overcome the wind and the waves that are sure to come about with the Fishbowl changes, we offer a yearly support contract for all of the custom integrations we create for you.


  • We want to give you ample time to make sure your custom integrations are serving you well.  So, we give you a 90-day window for you to see your integrations in action before we ask that you sign up for the support that will be needed when those pesky winds blow.
  • We want to make sure you have an active support contract in place after those 90 days so we can assist with the issues to come.  Your support contract becomes your anchor to make sure that if you are blown about in the tempests, your downtime is minimal, and your boat doesn’t get swamped.
  • Help us reduce delays by keeping your support contract active.  It’s not fun to try to navigate the waters of paperwork while your boat is sinking!  The first lines of safety will be thrown to those who have an active support contract.  Please plan ahead!
  • While support contracts do not cover changes to the integrations that are caused by major Fishbowl upgrades, customers who have active support contracts, and who purchase the code upgrades, will be given first priority.

Calm Waters

These are all great reasons to have your anchor in place before you set sail.  With everything in place, we will quickly guide you back to safe waters, where you no longer need worry about distant storms.  And don’t worry: LilyPad Mobile Sales and LilyPad Mobile Warehouse will be ready to help along the way.