November 5, 2016      5 min read

When it comes to accurate inventory control and management, nothing plays a bigger role than the use of comprehensive, integrated and cutting edge software. And while there are a wide variety of functions and operational approaches that facilitate accurate inventory control, the successful use of these hinges largely on the quality and usability of a business’ software choices.

There is nothing that can replace human skill and experience – and this, of course, greatly influences a business’s ability to make meaningful business and operational decisions. However, choosing the right inventory management software for your business will not only compliment the value and experience of your human resources but also enhance their overall effectiveness.

In this day and age, it can sometimes feel as though there are legions of faceless competitors with the upper hand. They, as trailblazing early-adopters, are using all of the best business tools available and leaving your business in the dust. Surprisingly though, there are still a large number of businesses (and not just small or start-ups) that are relying upon outdated and labor-intensive manual, or semi-manual, processes. This is just as true in inventory management. Many modern business owners and managers would be surprised to know just how many of their competitors are still using manual spreadsheets to track their inventory, or outdated and underperforming platforms to control their valuable and complex supply chains.

One of the hardest things to change in business is a person’s perspective. Change this and you can change almost anything. With this in mind, we’ve put together 3 reasons why good inventory management software is essential for accurate inventory control. So let’s dive right in for a closer look and see if we can’t change some perspectives in the process.

Minimizing the chance for human error

Since large-scale business began, owners and managers have been looking for ways to minimise the damaging effects of human error. An incorrect entry here, a missed order there; every mistake has the potential to cost real money, undermine valuable, hard-won customer loyalty or even cause a snowball effect, spiraling operations into systemic, ongoing problems that are difficult and costly to fix.

As a business scales up, and their operations and supply chains become more complex, the urgency surrounding how to fix these problems grows exponentially. While human error will never be completely eradicated, leaps and bounds have certainly been made to greatly minimize it. A large part of what has made this progression possible is the advent of better and more automated software solutions.

Good software, coupled with smart management, can greatly reduce the damage caused by human error on a variety of fronts. Take the use of manual spreadsheets for inventory tracking as an example.

With manual spreadsheets, accuracy hinges almost solely on human data entry. Figures are entered, formulas are programmed and actions are taken based on the end results. Even the best data entry personnel will make mistakes in their day-to-day work that causes inaccuracies. In most cases, businesses will have a mixture of staff with varying levels of skill and accuracy. This has been proven again and again to wreak havoc to data accuracy across the board. And with incorrect data comes incorrect operational decisions.

Automation frees up human resource power

With cutting edge and customized automation on the other hand, the human element can be harnessed in a different and more valuable way. Laborious human data entry gets replaced with software-driven automated data collection. This is far more accurate from the outset and also enables the ability to recheck the data in real-time – and all the time.

Whenever a transaction or process takes place, automated inventory management systems adjust all the data accordingly. Among other benefits, this helps to optimize a business’s human resource power and allow it to do what it does best – the higher tasks of overall management, decision making and intuitive change making.

Software integration for smooth sailing and greater accuracy

Most businesses will use a variety of software tools to run the different elements of their business. It’s no surprise that software integration is fast becoming an essential and highly sought-after piece of the inventory management puzzle.

The more accurate and timely the shared data is between every facet of a business, the more efficient and optimized the overall processes will be. Integration then, is an attempt to get different software platforms speaking the same language, without the added time delay of needing a translator.

By far, the least ideal situation for a business to find themself in, is to be running a handful of software programs that have no way of working together. Sometimes, this lack of software communication can work against or even negate some of the benefits that automation provided in the first place.

A worst-case scenario, especially for large or complex businesses, is to find themselves in need of performing manual information swapping between programs. Putting aside the obvious expense of such labor-intensive tasks, manual processes such as these can lead to spiraling inaccuracies that have the potential to cause huge financial and operational losses.

On the other hand, when your software solutions are able to work together, then greater accuracy, optimization and efficiency inevitably follows.

What do you mean by ‘good’ inventory management software?

Most modern businesses are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a software solution. While all business decisions are important and shouldn’t be made too hastily or without the right information and research, when it comes to choosing inventory management software, ‘good’ should mean ‘the right solution for your needs’.

A good place to start is by listing what your business needs, which features and functions have a higher priority, and, of course, how much you want to spend. For some businesses just starting out – or for small businesses in general – inventory management suites that are bought outright and housed onsite can seem both too expensive and a tad overkill.

Fortunately, with a growing global interest in the flexibility, portability and affordability of cloud computing, SaaS (Software as a Service) is providing some fantastic software solutions at a fraction of the cost of buying outright. For businesses looking to utilize inventory management software, there are now a handful of excellent SaaS solutions that businesses pay for via monthly subscription. This provides flexibility and low running costs for the business and a constant imperative on the software designer to not only provide cutting edge software, but also to update and improve their platforms in order to stay competitive.

For larger businesses, an onsite suite may still be the better solution for their business needs. So again, to define which inventory management software is ‘good’ can best be done by the business itself. Research is key before any big commitment. Weigh up the benefits; assess your business needs, and happy hunting!

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