While the Department of Liquor Control adjusts to a new system, store and restaurant owners across the county are feeling the effects.
More than six months after the DLC installed new Oracle software, the department is still in a period of transition, according to Director George Griffin.
“It was a little rough getting started, but it’s gradually getting better,” Griffin says.
This transition has been a frustrating one for business owners. Several customizations have had to be made to the software to make it effective for the DLC.
In the meantime, owners aren’t getting the inventory they’re ordering.
“We have products, specifically a prosecco and a champagne, that we’ve order six, seven weeks in a row,” said Brian Vasile, owner of Brickside Food and Drink in Bethesda, “and they just don’t come.”
Vasile also said that he frequently doesn’t receive product he orders that the system claims is in stock at the time.
In February, Montgomery County began using a new software system called Oracle in an effort to bring uniformity across all departments. Everyone would have the same access to information, causing less confusion.
This was good news for the DLC because the new system gives them the ability to track inventory and ordering better than they did in the past, and it eliminated paper payments at the time of delivery. The system also has the ability to produce reports that can track progress and accountability.
However, the process of adjusting the system to fit the needs of the DLC has been trying on both the department and businesses, with issues ranging from inventory to payment to ordering.
Special orders are a notable issue. When the county doesn’t regularly stock a particular product, the vendor has to place a special order for it. The DLC then places that specific order for the vendor.
Originally, there was no way to then mark that product as being for that specific vendor. This led to special orders being delivered to different businesses than the one that had ordered it. This issue, Griffin said, has been resolved.
Financial transactions are a problem. Under the previous system, orders were paid for when products were delivered, with cash or checks being collected by the person dropping off the inventory.
Under the new system, all payments are electronic, and money is deducted from a business’ account.
However, when products are delivered to the wrong business or don’t show up, it is up to the person delivering to make a note of it. Vasile said he always checks his account to make sure the proper amount has been charged, and often it doesn’t.
“You’re hoping that when it goes back through processing, they notice that and take off [the amount for missing product],” he said, “but the majority of the time, the numbers don’t match the invoice…. The system is far from perfect.”
While there are still issues, Griffin explained they are doing much better, and the proof is in the reports Oracle produces.
“It allows you to generate reports and analyze data that we never had before,” Griffin said.