Barcoding systems offer efficiency and accuracy, particularly regarding issues of inventory management and control, such as stock taking procedures. However, implementing these systems is not always straight forward, especially where a company is used to manual processes and physically recording inventory information. Below, we examine the best ways to introduce these systems smoothly and effectively.
Realising the Benefits
Many companies who have not yet implemented barcoding systems have long relied on other methods, such as manual and paper-based processes, to organise and oversee inventory flow. Stock taking procedures were carried out by hand, and staff would take manual records of inventory flow. Although these processes can be slow and error-prone, workers may have found it effective enough for the time being.
If companies have relied on such processes for long enough, staff can become set in their ways. For this reason, before implementing new barcoding systems, managers need to explain the benefits to staff and gradually implement the processes into the workplace.
Further, managers need to take the time to train employees in the use of these new systems, to provide them with the skills required to use the systems effectively. Failing to do so will ensure obvious operational mishaps, but it may also frustrate workers who may have been largely satisfied with old methods. Abrupt change in systems and procedures will not facilitate an easy integration of the new technology.
Rearranging the Work Environment to Facilitate Stock Taking Procedures
Barcoding implementation may require the rearrangement of the physical work place in which the systems will be used. Managers should consider any necessary changes to the layout of the warehouse, warehouse procedures, shelving practices and inventory teams.
For example, with the new barcoding systems you may benefit from ensuring that all barcode labels are facing outward and are easily accessible. You may also want to consider using barcode labels on different storage units, and not only on the products themselves. Doing so will enable inventory staff to find and organise products easily and quickly.
Lastly, since barcoding systems generally require less physical manpower, you may need to consider reducing the number of employees working on inventory control. Since barcoding systems digitalise a lot of information, there may be less of a need to have multiple staff members involved in stock taking procedures and inventory management in general.
Focusing on the Right Data
Before implementing barcoding systems, you need to carefully assess which types of data you want to capture with the barcoding system. Take the time to carefully consider which types of data will be most relevant to your supply chain operations. According to the WiseGeek technology blog, depending on the company you may need to track everything from receiving data, inventory location, product descriptions, destination or prices.
After you have decided on which types of data you would like to trace, it is important to assess how this plays out in practice once the system has been implemented. Shifting markets or company growth may demand alterations in the types of data originally thought to be necessary, and companies should change data types accordingly.
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.