Inventory management is the nerve center around which a business’s operational departments converge, making effective management practices central to your company’s long-term growth. Relying on spreadsheet-based programs like Excel or Google Sheets to track inventory wastes precious man-hours and is inefficient and error-prone. Ultimately, an inefficient inventory management system can lead to substantial losses in productivity and revenue, hampering your organization’s ability to scale over time. Professionally integrated inventory tracking software produces a powerful chain of effects. Task automation streamlines operations that were once performed manually. This kind of process automation increases accuracy, enables data analysis and prevents common inventory management issues like overstocking and stock-outs. Reduced costs and improved efficiency empower your organization to run more agilely, giving your business an enormous competitive advantage. In order to maximize the benefits of an inventory management solution and find the right software for your small business, it’s important to research and prepare beforehand. To help you weigh your options, we’ll discuss how:
- Business requirements and inventory challenges impact selection options
- Number and location of users affect costs
- Existing software environment may limit the options available
Equipped with this information, you’ll be well-prepared to select the inventory control system offering the best solution for your organization.
Most Important System Selection Criteria for Inventory Control
Identifying your company’s selection criteria before investigating the array of inventory tracking software systems is essential. This shortlist will help you identify a core set of requirements designed to meet your organization’s current and future needs.
Business Requirements and Inventory Challenges
Analyzing your business’s operational challenges will help determine the problems an inventory software must solve. Start by considering the size and complexity of the inventory you need to control and the most important parameters you need to track. Next, you should consider the requirements and goals particular to your industry or organization. What is your existing inventory management workflow and what issues tend to arise that delay or complicate operations? Generating a requirements document that addresses such findings will help you clarify the capabilities and features you’ll want to prioritize as you move forward.
Users and Accessibility
Like most software available today, many inventory control systems are priced based on the number of concurrent users a company requires. For small businesses, this level of flexibility can help reduce initial costs while still allowing the possibility to scale as operations grow – so long as the software provider offers the ability to add users when necessary (most will, this is how they also grow their business). Another major consideration is user location, since working with a distributed workforce makes remote access to software systems a necessity. While certain security regulations make on-premises systems a preferred option in some industries, cloud-based systems are the top choice for many of today’s industry experts due to their support for access from almost any location with an internet connection. Cloud-based inventory management systems typically require a lower initial investment, as well as far less existing internal infrastructure to implement and run effectively. Their low cost and high performance make them the ideal option for many small and medium-sized business organizations.
The power of an inventory management system also lies in its ability to integrate with existing software systems. The lack of ability for the inventory management system to to integrate with other operational systems means manual data entry is required increasing the cost of operations and the possibility for errors. If you hope to receive the full benefits of automation, make sure it can integrate with core business software systems, sharing transactional data that is needed to streamline operations. This can include project management systems, accounting software, and shipping systems and more.
Benefits of Working with an Inventory Management Specialist
Wading through application specs can be cumbersome and time-intensive, but it’s necessary if you hope to gauge a software’s integration compatibility. The only way to be sure your system will maximize potential benefits is to enlist the advice of asset and inventory management software specialists. Reaching out to industry professionals for their guidance and expertise for consultation and implementation can help ensure you’ve selected an inventory management system that:
Enables Transparency and Visibility – Inventory tracking software produces real-time data you can trust. By comparison, manual data entry tracking incoming and outgoing inventory is prone to error, hard to manage and time-consuming to confirm and correct. The ability to track available SKUs and outgoing shipments empowers both operations and customer service teams to work with improved accuracy and transparency.
Reduces Operational Expenses – A barcode-based inventory system improves the ability to monitor inventory which leads to efficient product tracking, data analysis and improved quality control while also reducing personnel and process management costs. Thanks to task automation, organizations save time and resources while improving accuracy and efficiency.
Increases Inventory Accuracy and Forecasting Ability – Improved inventory management coupled with robust data analysis create the ideal environment for a just-in-time (JIT) inventory strategy, which reduces the potential for overstock and under-stock conditions. A successful JIT strategy lowers costs by ordering inventory only as needed and greatly enhances a business’s future growth potential.
Offers Data Security - Protecting company data with a secure inventory management system that allows user controls as needed enables small companies to reduce risks of unauthorized users.
Improves Efficiency – Reducing the time and effort it takes to track and manage inventory while simultaneously improving data accuracy and operational transparency positively impacts the overall efficiency of your operation. Improvements in efficiency mean your customers and/or clients receive their products reliably and on time.
Optimizes Business Processes – The compounded benefits of improved efficiency, visibility, transparency, inventory accuracy, data analysis and forecasting, data security and reduced operational expenses all serve to optimize your business processes, streamlining your organization’s operations. An industry professional helps businesses choose the right inventory management solution that offers these benefits without hampering operations or requiring workarounds.
Many of a business’s daily activities revolve around inventory control. To identify and implement the ideal inventory management system, you must consider many different operational components – logistics, current workflows, tech specs of existing software and more – before you can consider which options are viable. With so much at stake, why not bring in an expert?
BarcodeShack provides businesses with industry-leading hardware and software products, and one-on-one assistance to help ensure you select and implement a software solution that will meet your business requirements and overcome your current inventory management challenges. Our barcode-based systems specialists provide the knowledge and resources you need to choose, deploy and integrate the right solution that will scale with your small business as it grows. Consult with a BarcodeShack professional today to discuss your requirements and challenges, so you can be sure you reap the benefits of using the best solution for your inventory control and tracking needs.