For a number of years, advancements in technology have been the driving force behind most of the recent innovations in business and business management. Our systems are continually being optimized, our processes streamlined and our use of automation made more precise and more intuitive.
Thanks to technology and its increasing uses and reliability, managers of every type of business, large or small, now have a greater ability to make better business decisions, backed by more accurate information and data.
In this regard, inventory management is no exception. The ability for managers to make decisions based on real-time analytics, to view and adjust stock levels from any location in the world, or to access accurate sales data without delay, is invaluable.
While the end decisions are still very much the domain of the human and not the machine, it is certainly true that technology is providing us with an increasing amount of opportunities to not only improve production and processes, but to make more meaningful and informed decisions.
Inventory management, then and now
For some of us in the inventory management field, it doesn’t seem that long ago that many businesses were still managing their stock manually, largely through the use of spreadsheets like Excel. When computerized inventory management systems first became available, there was certainly a fair amount of excitement about its potential, including the possible reduction in manual processes.
Fast forward to now, and we find ourselves in a business climate where technology dominates to a degree that was perhaps previously underestimated. Even the most basic of today’s inventory management software has advanced to a point where automation is not just able to handle the mundane and automatic, but also the highly complex.
We have, at our fingertips, the ability to control, analyze and adjust inventory with incredible accuracy. We can manage and automate the ins and outs of complex supply chains, as well as multiple warehouses, many of which utilize both barcode and mobile technologies.
Inventory management software as a platform for better business decisions
Many of today’s business or inventory managers may indeed have higher volumes and quicker cycle-times to navigate than they would’ve years ago. However, with the use of modern inventory management software platforms, they have a multitude of advantages over their predecessors.
What software provides, among many other things, is a stable platform from which solid and informed decisions can be made. Managers, like every employee in a business, prefer to make the right decisions, to do their job well and to not make mistakes. While perfection is a goal no one will ever reach, the utilization of the right software helps a business get as close as humanly possible.
Accurate data and reliable systems equal accurate decisions
Better decisions are made when the information is accurate, and the systems and processes of a business can be relied upon to function at a high level, both before and after necessary changes have been made.
Good inventory management software ensures this to a degree that is simply not possible otherwise. Using the best software, data can be accessed in real-time, often from anywhere and from any device, and necessary changes can be made which will usually cause little to no hold-ups in productivity.
Being able to see further ahead than the rest
Forecasting, one of the ‘holy grails’ of both sales and management, can be greatly improved with the right software platform. As already mentioned, with access to real-time and meaningful sales data and analytics, forecasting can be given a much-needed boost.
From the perspective of a manager, having the ability to foresee a problem before it happens is both highly sought after and highly valued. There are of course many factors to this, including the individual manager’s experience, temperament and skillset, but in today’s climate, software plays an increasingly large role.
With all the various pieces of a business that must run together for it to succeed, software is the essential unifying system that, while taking care of the basic operations, provides managers with the time and data to look further ahead than just the here and now. This becomes supremely valuable when developing new innovations or systems, or when it comes to foreseeing future problems. If a manager spends all their time on the daily ins and outs, or on fixing small problems as they arise, they won’t get the opportunity to stand back and see the big picture. In this sense, inventory management software provides the room to see the big picture – and it’s the big picture that shows the road to success.
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.