A stocktake is a record of the inventory a business has on hand, which is commonly done at the end of the year. However, some businesses may perform stocktakes more regularly. An accurate stocktake is essential for making informed business decisions relating to inventory management and control. A successful stocktake gives you valuable insight into sales patterns, theft-prevention needs, warehouse processes and matters related to damaged stock. Below, we summarise how you can ensure a successful stocktake every time.
Sometimes, you may still be holding stock that has already been invoiced to a customer, so you need to ensure you clarify which stock is still available and which stock is waiting to be dispatched.
Similarly, you may have recently received new stock that has not yet been recorded into the system. It is essential that you distinguish between stock that has been recorded in the books and stock which has not, to prevent any mishaps.
You may also have raw material in the process of manufacturing, or even consignment stock which is owned by another party. In both cases, you should differentiate between the types of stock before you begin the counting process.
Keep the stock room tidy
A messy, disorganised stock room is difficult to work with and prone to stocktaking mistakes. Make sure your stock room is organised, and use labels to differentiate between items. It may even be useful to give stock counters a method for counting the stock, to avoid confusion among staff.
Encourage you stock counters to maintain focus when they are doing a stocktake. Distractions such as cell phones, music and even small talk can cause staff to lose concentration and overlook important details.
Never estimate stock
While it may seem tedious to count every item one by one, making general assumptions about how much stock you have can have drastic consequences. Make sure you check and double check stock numbers to avoid costly stocktaking mistakes.
Relatedly, it is a good idea to check the physical stock count against accounting records, and to follow up with any discrepancies that may arise.
Use stocktake tools accurately
When using stock sheets, if inventory is barcoded, make sure barcodes are written down clearly. This will ensure stock-takers can work quickly and without any mishaps.
Similarly, when using write-off sheets, make sure that you note down the condition of the stock as you count it. This will help to explain any damage to stock that occurs, and will enable managers to solve any issues quickly.
Thirdly, it is a good idea to use different coloured pens when stock-taking. This way, the audit trail can be traced according to the different counters, so that any discrepancies or variances can be easily followed up and resolved.
Lastly, use barcode scanners where possible, as this eliminates the need to manage stock with manual processes. Counting stock manually is time-consuming and error-prone, so using barcode scanners will save time and prevent mishaps.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.