A lot of business owners, especially when they start out, can be lured into using Excel for their inventory management. However, because inventory management is a constantly moving and evolving piece, Excel can quickly become not only a time waster but also a hindrance to the performance of your business and the effectiveness of your staff.
Check out our top 10 reasons for why you shouldn’t use Excel when it comes to your inventory, and then maybe explore a cloud-based, SaaS option like Unleashed instead.
- It’s a time waster
Excel relies on a lot of manual data entry, which is pretty time-consuming (and tedious) for anyone involved. Especially for a successful business, where inventory is constantly moving with supplies coming in and products getting shipped out, having someone having to manually keep track of that and type it all in is definitely not the most efficient use of their time.
- It doesn’t operate in real-time
Real-time data doesn’t exist in Excel – it’s only as up to date as you make it. This means that when orders are continually bring processed with inventory counts changing constantly, Excel will never be able to give you an on-the-spot, up-to-the-minute look at the state of your inventory. This is especially detrimental when needing to reorder, forecast and plan, as you’ll be using out of date information that isn’t reflective.
- You can’t have multiple people using it at the same time
Unless you host your spreadsheets in the cloud, and let’s be honest most companies don’t, using Excel in your business limits you to only having one person using it at a time. With staff from different departments needing access constantly, having user limits can be particularly painful.
- It’s not purpose built for inventory
While Excel is a great tool, and can be a huge help to your business, it’s a bit of a jack of all trades. It isn’t specifically built for inventory management so you won’t get all the extra add-ons and features that custom-designed inventory software like Unleashed offer.
- You can’t link it to your other business software
A lot of software these days is enabled so that it can integrate with other solutions you use within your business. For example, you can hook up your inventory, point-of-sale and invoicing software together so they all talk to each other and you don’t have to enter data into all three. With Excel though, no such luck, you’ll be having to manually transfer everything across.
- Doesn’t offer easy analytics and reporting
You may be an Excel whizz in that you can set up a pile of pie charts and bar graphs, but it’s hardly the most extensive inventory analytics and reporting around. And if you aren’t an Excel superstar you’ll probably be left without any real ability to easily see what’s going on in your stock room.
- It doesn’t scale well
As you look to grow your business, there is going to be more and more inventory that you will need to keep track of and likely more and more processes to go along with it too. So keeping track of everything manually in Excel will prove pretty troublesome and inefficient.
- Human error is rife
Due to the nature of Excel being manual and driven by humans, you are bound to end up with errors. It’s only natural after all. Having a more purpose built, automated solution however, will help you to eliminate those errors, and in the process save you a lot of time and money. (You should also stop using negative inventory entries.)
- Can’t troubleshoot easily
When something does go wrong in Excel it can be extremely hard to track down the root of the problem. This is especially the case with complex spreadsheets that have multiple sheets, rules and the like.
- It’s offline
Excel doesn’t naturally exist in the cloud; instead it just sits on everyone’s computers with all the documents saved onto a server. This means not only do you have to install it, which can be very costly for a large business, but also once you leave work you don’t have access to it. Having something that is cloud-based however, will give you easy access through the web wherever you are, and will likely have phone and tablets apps too.