Configure Organizations and Locations

Organizations VS Locations

Organization and Locations are key building blocks in OpenBoxes. They are a part of a set of objects called parties, which represent people, locations, and groups that interact with the software. Read the parties intro for more details on each party type.

So, what are organizations and locations, and how do they relate to one another?

  • Organizations: Organizations are companies, governments, or other entities that interact directly or indirectly with OpenBoxes. The organization represents the financial entity, and is associated with one or more locations, which represent a physical office or warehouse.

    Understanding organizations is essential to using the Purchase Order feature, because organizations define the financial entities that are referenced in purchasing and invoicing.

  • Locations: Locations represent physical spaces where goods are shipped, received, or stored. All transactions within OpenBoxes must be associated with a location. Some locations have the ability to manage inventory, which allows users to log in, view inventory, and make transactions. Other locations can be referenced as origins or destinations, but cannot track inventory. There are multiple levels of locations; within a depot location, there are also locations representing individual bins or zones.

So locations represent physical places where inventory is shipped, received, and stored. Organizations represent the company or entity that owns that location.

All depot and supplier locations must be associated with an organization.

Why it matters

You may be wondering - why have two separate objects for the physical location and the financial entity? Does it really matter? The answer is, it matters if you use the purchasing feature or any of the other financial features in OpenBoxes. In order to do any financial transactions using OpenBoxes, you need to have a clear indication of who is allowed to pay for what, and where. You can see more detailed information about why below and on the PO configuration page.

If you aren’t using purchasing in OpenBoxes, the distinction between organization location is more theoretical. In that case, it is easy enough to create one organization and assign all locations to it. OpenBoxes will also automatically create organizations for supplier locations, which makes location creation easier for users that don’t care about the financial aspects of the software.

Possible Location and Organization Configurations

Let’s go through a few examples to help you conceptualize the relationship between a location and an organization.

Ex 1: Organization and Location are 1:1

For this example, imagine you have a supplier your organization works with regularly called “ABC Medical Supplies.” ABC medical supplies always ships from the same location, which is the same as their main office and billing address. In this case, you organization and location record might look like this:

This scenario is often the case for suppliers, so when users create a supplier, there is an option to leave the supplier blank and OB will automatically create a corresponding supplier organization.

Ex 2: All locations belong to the same organization

In this example, an organization called Bring Health has deployed OpenBoxes to use entirely internally. There are no external suppliers, and stock is never sent outside the company. In this case, your relationship might look like this:

Ex 3: All depots belong to same organization, with external suppliers

Let’s say that the above organization, Bring Health, wants to start capturing purchase orders and shipments to and from external suppliers. Instead of having one internal department be the supplier, instead they will add external organizations to their instance:

In this case, Bring Health can now create purchase orders to an external supplier, let’s say Medical Supplies Express. They can select the particular warehouse that Medical Supplies Express will deliver from, and the specific warehouse within Bring Health that the supplies will be delivered to. All of the workflows related to the physical supplies will reference the location and the address associated with it. Meanwhile, all of the workflows related to purchasing and billing will reference the organization record and the associated billing address.

Ex 4: Network or Organizations or Company with Subsidiaries

One other way organizations can be used is to separate subsidiaries within the same company. Take for example one of OpenBoxes' users, Partners in Health. Partners in Health is a global non-profit based in the United States with multiple country offices. Each country office has it’s own purchasing and finance departments that can issue their own orders and payments. Their organization map looks like this:

This arrangement allows PIH Boston, PIH Sierra Leone, and PIH Haiti to each issue their own purchase orders with their own numbering sequences, and to handle their own invoicing. By default, each country office can only buy goods to be delivered to locations within their organization. However, PIH Boston has enabled the central purchasing feature, which allows it to act as a headquarters office and buy for the entire global network. See more about central purchasing under PO configuration. 

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