If you are looking to expand your business’s horizons, a lack of inventory management capability will likely hold you back. Growing companies who have used inventory management systems such as a pen and clipboard or Excel spreadsheets typically find that these more manual approaches to inventory come at a high time cost and can lead to critical mistakes or inventory shortages. Even for small businesses, keeping track of inventory data the traditional way is typically a subpar choice – and when it comes to scaling up, a DIY solution is almost out of the question. On the other hand, inventory management software is typically developed with growth in mind – a good system will be able to co-ordinate and keep track of parts, products and stock no matter the size of the business. Let’s look at some of the key business development benefits of a specialized inventory management software system.
Improve Time Efficiency and Team Morale
Even when they are running well, manual inventory control systems can be a lot of work. Data entry is slow and often inaccurate, making extra checks necessary, while building and maintaining spreadsheets can tie up your business’s most technically savvy staff for hours. Manual inventory systems are almost always periodic in nature (inventory data is not updated in real-time), so stock takes are required more frequently. A growth spurt can stretch staff time very thin and it can be very stressful, so making it easier for your team to get the work done should be a focus for growth. Implementing an automated, specialized inventory management software package will reduce the big and small frustrations in day-to-day inventory control, and it will let your staff focus more of their energies on growing the business.
Prevent Inventory Shortages and Earn A Reputation for Delivering
Customers value suppliers who are reliable and shy away from suppliers they cannot trust to deliver. Whether you are selling to businesses or consumers, having a reliable inventory management system is crucial to ensure that you never fail to deliver. When you were first establishing your business, you were probably anxious not to have much stock on hand – but as your business takes off, the greater risk becomes that you will run out of inventory. This could mean having to turn a customer away after neglecting to order more merchandise, or perhaps it could mean the production line grinding to a halt after running out of one small (but crucial) component. Manual inventory management systems make your business vulnerable to inventory shortages. Specialized inventory management software gives you the visibility to make sure they never happen. If an item is running low, the system can alert you. And because this approach to inventory management is perpetual (that is, stock counts are updated as stock movements actually occur), you can place stock orders with confidence.
Turn Data into Business Intelligence
Inventory management software like Unleashed can consolidate significant amounts of data in one place, and a best-in-class system will enable you to highlight inventory trends. Moreover, automated systems typically result in more data being collected, so you can have more confidence that you have the full picture. Manual inventory systems simply do not have the forecasting capability that is crucial for business development. With a paper-based or spreadsheet inventory system it is much more difficult to identify top selling products, under-performers or highly seasonal items.
Although a basic approach to inventory management may be meeting your business’ core inventory management requirements now, by implementing a specialized, automated inventory management system you can expect to see improved reliability, a more engaged team and business intelligence to drive your business forward.
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.