As with anything else in business, there’s a right way and a wrong way to manage inventory. By planning ahead and establishing a solid foundation of best practices, you can better position your warehouse and your organization as a whole for ongoing success. If you could use a little guidance in this area or if you’re just starting out and are unsure where to begin, here are a few helpful tips to point you in the right direction.
The goal of any inventory management professional is to keep operations running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. It’s equally important to take appropriate measures to prevent overages as well as under-stock situations. The best way to achieve these things is to invest in inventory management software. When selecting a product, keep the following criteria in mind:
What features are most important to your business? Not every software solution is created equal and while you’ll probably never find a product that is a perfect match, you can take steps to find one that is most closely aligned with your needs, goals and pain points.
What type of learning curve is involved? Obviously, the more complex the software, the longer and more complicated the training process will be. Some solutions offer out-of-the-box functionality and a relatively straightforward user interface, but others may require more time and effort. Understanding what to expect ahead of time can help you plan accordingly for a smooth transition.
How much can you afford? Budget is another deciding factor when choosing an inventory management software solution. Determine what your budget is and how much you’re willing to invest in a product. Keep in mind that your expenditure will be offset by the savings in time and resources as well as the boost in efficiency and productivity the software can provide.
Along with the software side of things, there will also be some equipment that will be required in the process of establishing and implementing a successful inventory management process. Here are some things to keep in mind during this part of the process:
Barcode Printers – Most inventory management software products feature the ability to tag each item with its own distinct barcode. This provides enhanced visibility and makes tracking and managing inventory much faster, easier and more efficient. That being said, you’ll need to invest in equipment to print out these barcodes, so start pricing them out now.
Barcode Scanners – Along with printers, you’ll need the subsequent scanners that your warehouse employees will use to scan, monitor and manage inventory as it comes in, goes out and requires counting from time to time. There are a number of different options for this, so again, you’ll need to do your homework to determine which type is best suited for your needs.
Mobile Computers – Today’s digital age makes it possible to work from just about anywhere, particularly thanks to cloud technology. Now your inventory workers can handle their duties right on the warehouse floor using things like smartphones and wireless tablets. This will obviously require an investment upfront, but the savings over time will make it well worth it.
Managing inventory effectively is no easy task. It takes planning and strategizing to get it right. The above pointers should help you begin to develop a foundation that will facilitate efficient, accurate and timely inventory management within your company for better performance and a more attractive bottom line.