If you thought it was as easy to choose an inventory management software that perfectly fits your company’s needs then you are probably right. Granted that you know how your warehouse inventory ecosystem works, buying the best one to suit your business should be a breeze. There are however some key things that you have to consider when picking one. Just as how complex warehousing is, there are a you kinks that you should look out for to ensure smooth sailing operations once the inventory management software is fully integrated with your business.
The notion that some businesses will not need inventory management because they have little inventory is just plain wrong. As an item of value, each and every asset should be kept track off to know exactly how much money is spent on them. Going forward without a clear understanding of how the inventory lives and breathes is dangerous for your business.
People may also resort to choosing to manually tally inventory using pen and paper or more conveniently, by using a spreadsheet application on a computer. These are both valid approaches and have worked for many businesses and companies for many years. However outdated, these methods are still way better than not having a way to track your inventory at all. This still carries some risks, however, which should have been completely avoidable. These include the risk accumulated through human error that will be ever present especially when using pen and paper. Spreadsheets can somehow offset the human error but given the general nature of these kinds of applications, there are no safety nets put in place to ensure that the spreadsheet will not be fed with wrong information.
Having a software solely dedicated to managing your inventory can help you in preventing data discrepancies that can lead to problems. They may be minor like simple spelling errors or minor mismatch in inventory counts. But they can also be catastrophes like risking shrinkage in your inventory, overstack, shipment delays and damages due to expiry and spoilage. These wastes can prove extremely costly to your business and as such it should be the first priority for each warehouse manager to get an inventory management software if he/she deems the need for one.
The important thing in choosing the best inventory software for your business is to always relate the functions and features that directly benefits your style of inventory management. With that in mind, here are few of the factors that you should always consider when buying inventory management software.
First and foremost, you have to ask yourself exactly what kind of inventory management software you would need. Requirements are the first step to identifying any form of software that one would requisite. A mismatch in requirement not only means not getting the job done but also wasting so much money, time and effort on a software system not intended for your business. It should be the simplest of tasks to know what you need from a software that you intend to buy. But you have to dive in to the minutia. Each spec of information that flows within the inventory management should be considered.
A good way to identify the needs is to imagine the things that slows down management. If some tasks could be automated to lift some of these problems, then you can chalk it as a feature that you require from the inventory management system that you intend to buy. Another important feature that is always part of any form of inventory management software is the tracking of each asset. You have to ask yourself the depth to which you intend to keep track of your assets. Do you want to know exactly where in your warehouse the inventory entry is stored, or would you like to input all the information such as expiry, hazard warnings and other properties.
Keep in mind however that as the requirements are becoming more and more demanding, the price of the inventory management software could also rise. Requirements pertaining to depth of information could also trigger complex user experience that could instead slow down the workflow.
When talking to the software vendors, always lead in with the type of software you envision along with the current state of your inventory management processes. As veterans of the field, they should be easily able to relate your experiences to past customers and they can definitely help you in laying out your own requirements for them.
Every asset acquisition is set aside with a budget and this is no different when choosing software for your company. Pricing a software can get really messy so getting an exact budget range can be quite difficult, unless of course if the software you intend to buy is a package off the shelf. The amount of money you are willing to shell out in relation to the requirements you set forth will largely dictate what inventory management software you are going to acquire.
Price does not always mean quality especially in the world of proprietary software. There are many ways you can procure any type of software and as such many other facets will factor in. The cheapest way to procure inventory management software is to buy one that works off the shelf. This means that the inventory management software is general enough and will be able to work with most business needs. They are usually cheaper than others but will not be always easy to reconfigure to suit your needs better. Another option is to hire a development team to create one for you. This is the more costly way but you will be ensured of software that will be built to your specification.
Specialized does not always mean better however as has been proven in the software industry time and time again. Off the shelf software carries with it the experience of the software company behind it. There is also an adage that the software industry practitioners will often relate to and that is that “Customers don’t always know what they want.”.