Inventory management software may seem straightforward at first but it is actually a lot more complex especially considering the data-driven nature of today’s enterprise.
There are two main factors that businesses should consider when choosing new software which also applies to choosing an inventory management software.
The two key components are accuracy and, relatively new to the scene, foresight. Accuracy has always been a factor when keeping record of daily transactions for businesses. And as businesses grow and interoperate, this becomes even more evidently important.
The second factor, foresight, is borne from the advancements in artificial intelligence. While even the cart-wheel powered traders have had their own version of foresight by predicting which products will sell and which products they should stock up on.
Today, the same ability is embedded into inventory management systems powered by warehousing theories as well as machine learning.
If there is one important goal that any management software should have, it is to limit errors. Errors may stem from two sources, human error and software bugs. Either of which can be limited but may not be avoided altogether.
Minimizing human error can be done by limiting the human aspect of each transaction. This means forcing the user to choose between as few choices as possible. However, this should not be detrimental to the flexibility or the customizability of the inventory management software.
And second, software bugs are part of software development and are to be expected especially when the software is big enough and employs multiple teams. Choosing reputable software companies as partners lets you, at least, avoid critical bugs by constantly testing and updating the inventory management software.
Inventory Management Software Choice Should be Within Budget
With all the shiny features that software companies present when they give you a demo, it can be easy to get lost in all the noise. When you have set a specific budget on an inventory system, it might be best to just stick to it. This way, you can further clear out inventory systems out of the running so you can make the choice much simpler as it should be.
Modularization is a software architecture pattern that allows detachments of specific features. Most major software companies make use of this pattern to allow flexibility in the products that they offer.
This approach is especially helpful for consumers who are not willing to go beyond a price point. Some features outside the default package are considered non-essential, thus your budget should suffice.
However, it should be noted that even default packages can be further thinned out. Some inventory management software needs are simple enough to work on bare bones systems.
Understand Your Inventory Management Software Needs
The most common rookie mistake when choosing software is building around it instead of choosing the software to fit an already working system. While software systems will naturally alter the way you operate, there is no assurance that the resulting scheme would prove to be more effective. Software requirements should be built upon an observation of the current system and finding the pain points or the aspects that can be improved.
For instance, you may choose to improve the accuracy of the inventory system by limiting the factors that affect the input of data like manual calculations. Another example is attempting to update the way spoilage is being monitored by meticulously labelling products and setting up alert systems within the inventory management software itself.
Find Out How to Track Items in the Inventory Management System
Tracking inventory entries is probably the bread and butter of inventory management software. As a core feature in most systems, it is necessary to find out exactly how this will apply to your own operation.
Modernization has allowed us the use of many different kinds of ways to enable tracking of inventory. That is the reason why it is vital to decide the kind of method that you wish to employ.
Some of the more common ways of tracking inventory includes the use of barcodes and serialization. More advanced systems make use of RFID tags, kitting and lot control.
Because of the many different options available, you can take advantage by figuring out which one works best for your own inventory needs. This is the reason why you have to finalize your choice of method before you scour the market for the inventory management system of your choice.
It should be noted that tracking can be considered as an advanced feature. Some small to medium sized stores do not normally employ the use of tracking as the value of such will diminish considering the small amount of stock that needs to be monitored.
Furthermore, prices of inventory management systems can skyrocket with such a feature. As a general rule, you will be better off relying on a system that has been proven to work than to force features onto the system.
Advanced inventory management systems are hardware driven to speed up the operations and to limit manual input. Devices such as scanners should be part of the conversation when setting up your inventory management system.
Because of that, you should find out how each of your choices follow the global standards. There are many bodies that specialize in such.
Inventory Management System Users and Access
The moment that you begin your search, it is important to know exactly how many users you will have. Prices of enterprise software usually change depending on how many user accounts will be available to their customers. It should be noted that licences often strictly prohibit sharing of user access.
This information is important to have a more accurate quote from the software company that you wish to work with. Because of the internet, inventory management systems can be set up to be made accessible across multiple locations.
This way, if you have multiple branches for your business, you can synchronize the stock levels. This is also useful for making forecasts for the entire business.