Inventory is the life blood of your business. Whether you keep an inventory of raw materials for manufacturing or if you store finished products for sale, you need to know what you already have to know what you will need in the future. You can minimize inventory costs with inventory control software.
Benefits of Inventory Control Software
Large companies benefit from inventory control software because it allows them to process large amounts of inventory with relatively few resources. Even small businesses benefit because this kind of software comes with multiple business tools helping to track, handle and manage the supply chain.
Manual management of inventory is no longer an acceptable method of doing business in the modern world. Tracking inventory manually is like starting a fire by rubbing two sticks together. It is much easier to simply buy a lighter and flick your thumb! Even computer management of inventories through human means leaves too much room for error and loss of information, putting a company at great disadvantage against competing businesses.
A properly managed inventory supplies the right amount of goods to meet demand without wasting resources in procuring and storing the goods. Inventory software lets a business manage all aspects of inventory management including purchasing, receiving, warehousing and sales.
To remain competitive, businesses must maintain a balance of adequate supply but minimize the supply they keep to meet demand in order to control costs. Overstock is a waste of space where other profitable items could be stored. Shortfalls result in missed sales opportunities and can lead to loss of customers. Inventory management software is ideally suited to maintaining this balance, helping to forecast demand in the coming weeks or months.
Choosing the right Software
Firstly, the software you choose must be compatible with your current computer systems. Companies that offer integration support will be worth the added cost in saved time and productivity. It is a good idea to use a trial version of any inventory management software before purchasing.
The software you choose will be able to track serial numbers, print barcodes and store images of the products or raw materials. The software will allow you to set definitions for automatic reordering on the goods that you choose. Where pricing requirements are in place, the software can be programmed to account for them. There will also be ways in which you can adjust counts based on your physical inventory checks and audit the trail of goods to find where items were lost.
Because inventory control is such an important aspect of your business, you should not leave it to chance. Go with a brand you know and trust. Be sure the company has deployed the software in many industries, proving a wide range of capabilities. The more flexible the software in tracking different types of goods, the more useful it will be to your business.
Look for software with features that give added benefit to your business. Look for analytics functionality to help you forecast demand and trends. If your business involves perishable goods, look for expiration date tracking as well.
Remote data collection is another useful feature in inventory management software. Top software producers provide combined software and hardware packages that offer remote access to inventory data.
Online Inventory Software
The leading edge of inventory software gives you nothing to install on your computers at all. There is no concern with compatibility because all you need is an internet browser. Such programs are especially useful where a great deal of travel is required for your business. These systems let you access date from anywhere, even your Blackberry.
Internet based inventory systems are often cheaper that traditional software because no additional license purchases are required. You may be concerned with the security of your data, but internet bases systems are reliable and secure. Servers are protected behind firewalls and other security programs. These servers are backed up on a regular basis, keeping your information safe.
Regardless of the system you choose, look for features that you will use now and those you may need to use in the future as your business evolves and expands. This will ensure you maintain the competitive edge you gain by purchasing this kind of software.
Using Inventory Control Software
In most cases, inventory software is quite easily implemented and put to use in daily operations. Most come with tutorials. You will be even better served if the software vendor provided integration support and training. Some programs even train your staff on how to manage inventory.
With your software installed, you will be able to manage most aspects of your business with one application. You can track costs, expenses and outstanding debts. You can often track your equipment and its accounting value as well.
Your inventory software is only as good as the data you put into it. For this reason, there are certain best practices you should keep in place. This includes ensuring entries from stock receipts are accurate, initiating replenishment strategies and installing procedures for managing dead stock and excess inventory.
Inventory software will monitor materials as they are received at the warehouse and stocked. It will reconcile inventory balances, track and report on replenishing methods, and analyze projections for inventory status as well. You can even set periodic goals and try out different ways you might be able to achieve them by changing parameters within the program.
The return on investment for inventory control software is great. Some businesses have reduced expenses six fold with the implementation of such programs. The money you save can be put towards marketing your business and improving your infrastructure.