Sunday, May 11, 2008

Value of a Japanese software engineer in Thailand VS Japan

When I talked to my long time Chinese friend in Japan, who is a software engineer, I reached to conclusion that this will be a tough year for software engineers in Japan. The environment surrounding them is totally different from the one in the past years. To say one word for software engineers in Japan, it used to be like "If you want I can work you." and the last few years "I can take that job." and now "I will do anything you tell me."

In Japan about 40% of software development is related to the one in financil industry. So when big mergers occur that means software engineers are needed. A good example is merger of Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi and UFJ bank. But the system integration is ending this year. And more of Indian developers are comming to Japan market kicking out existing developers. Acom, a largest Japan's consumer loan company, used to outsource its ERP operation to Japan IBM but now asked Indian vendor, Nucleus Software, to implement their ERP package cutting 30% of total cost of 20 billion Japanese yen of IBM.

The pricing of software engineer in Japan is also declining so much. You can not refuse low priced job or short term project other wise you never find other jobs. About 10 years ago most of freelance Japanese software engineers got 1 million yen per month. Now programmers get only 300,000 yen/month. System analysts, if you are lucky, get 700,000 per month.

Now in Thailand Japanese software engineer is valued more than the one in Japan. Young Chinese engineers flocked to Japan dreaming that they become the same way as their seniors getting 1 million yen per moth. But it may be difficult for them to achieve this goal. I am afraid that Japan may need to ask Japanese to work overseas to earn money just like they did after WWII sending Japanese to Brasil.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Starting from inventory tracking

If you are new to production management system and do not know what to do first start from inventory tracking. Production management means large area ranging from sales record tracking to factory inventory or cost tracking.

But it is true that in many factories production managemt starts from keeping track of the number of inventory. You can NOT forecast sales amount without knowing how many pieces of your factories' product A. Lots of software vendors in Bangkok Thailand repeats their software's advantage includes sales forecast and active inventory reduction. It is true that those software can provide hint for forecast and reduction but you must have inventory tracking data before doing anything.

Inventory tracking does not just mean tracking final product inventory but includes tracking of intermidiate product ( or a part) in your factory, which is called "work in progress" (=WIP). By knowing those number of inventory in a factory you are able to calculate cost (or value) of inventory in your factory.

Computer system (whether it is ERP software or tailor made production manaegment system) can store large amount of data and calculate the number of inventory and its cost easily. But you must have system, which is NOT computer system but is combination of rule and hardware to input the number of inventory to your computer system. These typically include scanning barcode of your product by manually or reading tag information attached to your conveyer.

Factories where the number of computer inventory and the one of real inventory does not match first need to make rule and start educating your employee before doing anything.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

We will start selling production planning (or scheduling) software

Our company provides tailor made production management system. Tailor made refers to that the software is made based on customer's requirement and is unique to each customer. No other company use the saoftware you have.

But we believe that there is one area that we should not get into in tailor made production management system and that is so called production planning or production scheduling.

Production management system refers to many things such as inventory control, process control, order receive control and shipment control etc. Any field may be included in production management in a factory if you need to keep track of some number. ERP or MRP refers to just combination of those functions. In all of those number control system production planning is somethings special and different.

Let's take an example of inventory control. If you are to keep track of inventory of "product A" what do you do? You will probably take a piece of paper and pencil and write down how many pieces of "product A" you have now. And when you get "product A" from supplier you will write down on a note that how many pieces you received. In the same way when you sold "product A" to your client you will write down in tha same way.

When you come to office this morning let's say you had 100 pieces of "product A". You received 10 pieces from supplier afternoon and sold 20 pieces in the evening. When you leave your office your inventory note book may look like below.

Beginning = 100

IN(Received from supplier) = 10

OUT(Sold to client) = 20

So if you want to know how many pieces of "product A" you have then you just need to calculate

Current stock = Beginning + IN - OUT = 100+10-20 = 90

It is not so difficult. If your company is just selling a few products you may use a note book and pencil or MS excell to keep track of inventory. When you make computer system it is the same story. Concept or logic of inventory management is relatively easy to understand and easy to conver to program.

On the other hand production planning is different. If you are not familier with production planning think about Travel planning. You are flying from Bangkok to Boston US. You want to know what are the choices and what is the best choice for you?

If you want to go from Bangkok to Boston you may choose direct flight to NY from Bangkok and fly from NY to Boston. Or you may fly Tokyo and fly from Tokyo to Boston. If you fly to Tokyo you have 5 or 6? airlines to choose. Do you prefer lower airfare or shortest flight time? Or may be less flight change? There are just so many parameters that can be chyanged.

Web site like provides answer to this question. When the site answers to your question the software is simulating available choices and providing the answer based on your preference. Yes, it is simulating. If a software house need to make an application that simulates something, it will need to ask so many questions to client because it does not know how to simulate and evaluate the result.

Production planning is the same story. It is just easire and quicker to use ready made package software when it comes to planning. Though there are several choices for production planning system that are available in Thailand we are selling a software called "Asprova".

I am writing more on the reason why we are chooing the software later but this time I wanted to tell the reason why we use package software for production planning NOT tailor made.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Accounting software most used in Japanese factories in Thailand

About 50% of foreign capital factories in Thailand is Japanese factories. Those factories include small ones with around 10 employees to large ones with 20,000, which is Minebea.

You might think that most of Japanese factories own large IT department in Thailand operation. But the fact is no. It is usually true that employees less than 1,000 do not have any IT department. They might have someone who takes care of PCs but do not have employees, either Japanese from headquarter or local Thai, who takes care of any IT in factory.

It is also true that lots of factories find production management softwares in Thailand, not coping the same application from main factories in Japan or other countries. When factories in Thaiald produce same products as the ones in Japan they use the same applications used in Japan but in many occasions the products are not the same.

When considering production management software you have two options. One is to make your own application that fits just to your company or to buy a read made software, package. Though our company makes tailor made applications we believe that there are two areas where use of package application is a better choice. Accounting and production planning.

The accounting software most used in mid to large Japanese factories in Thailand is probably Accpac. Though it is widely used in Thailand Accpac ask local accounting companies for sales and implementations, which is causing some of implementation projects to fail. I was called one time by my friend saying that implementation of Accpac is taking a year and seems not to be finishing and he asked me to check the situation.

It is sometimes true that Japanese managers ask local Thai employees for implementation but can not complete. In the case above the reason of delay should be blamed to the vendor of Accpac. I was shocked when I found 2 key punchers trying to input all the past raw data, whose amount is as much as 10 to 20 books of telephone directory. 1 phone directory is 2 inch thick?

So when you are not confident on IT field you need to be carefule when you choose vendor. Please ask us for more information about Accpac implementation in Thailand.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

1st post

I am a Japanese working in Bangkok Thailand. I have been writing my BLOG since I started my software company in Bangkok in 2006. But it is in Japanese.

As a Japanese raised, grownup and worked in Tokyo, working in Bankok makes me feel and think something everyday. So I started writing how I was amazed or impressed in my BLOG but I thought one day that all I write and read on internet is in Japanese. Internet is supposed to connect world but it is actually connecting only Japanese because Japanese are not used to reading English BLOGs and take time to read.

I stared feeling that I have gained enough thoughts from Japanese living in Bangkok by reading so many BLOGs written about Thais or Thailand from the view point of Japanese. I think Japanese like BLOGs.

Here is an example. This is a site that lists BLOGs categorized only BLOGs on Thailand. There are 291 BLOGs registered whose main topics are Thailand!! This is amazing and tells that Japanese community in Thailand is rich.

The picture below is free magazines available in Japanese supremarkets, massage shops and codominiums etc. These magazines are basically combination of news in Thailand and advertisements. But believe it or not there are about 50 magazines available!! Actually I never saw free magazies written in English or other European languages in Bangkok.

So I hope I can deliver some message that other Japanese or I have.