The time when we have to update spreadsheets to record movements in inventory feels like such a long time ago. Nowadays, not only do inventory management software do all the things that you could do using bulky excel files, but you can do so much more like tracking inventory levels, forecasting demands, and others. This article will talk about all the things that you have to consider when buying inventory management software and some tips.
The Kind of Business you are running
First and foremost, you should bring out your pen and paper and talk about your business numbers. How big is your business and how much of it affects how big your needs are in inventory? Will your business scale and if yes, then at what rate? If you think your business might not be needing inventory data that spans multiple hard disk racks, you should not buy top of the line inventory management software. This might not be worth your investment among other things that you have to consider regarding its use. In fact, before jumping the gun on buying a pricey inventory management software, a spreadsheet might just do the trick if your business transaction count is small enough. Another alternative is buying lite versions of inventory management software. They usually feature the same capabilities as the full versions albeit with limits put in place. For instance, the kinds of reports that you can print may be limited or there may not be a feature to forecast supply and demand. As the size of the business grows, so would the complexity and thus needing a more powerful tool for the staff to use.
How much are you willing to shell out
As with any expense in the business, careful consideration should be made regarding the budget that will be allocated to any software purchases. The rule of thumb in buying any licensed software is laying out the problems that you want fixed and making sure that the purchase will solve these exact problems. Most of the time, people buy software with features that are beyond the scope of the need of the company just so the price meets the budget set during the budget planning.
It will be absolutely necessary to draw an envisioned inventory management scheme after the software purchase. This way, the budget will be based on the required features that will be identified as the investigation is taking place. Some specific challenges in the design will need a particular inventory management software feature to solve it. Moreover, system providers have sets of specialties that might just fit you better than their competitors.
Integrating the inventory management software
Any software purchase should be able to seamlessly integrate with any of the existing tools that you are already currently using. For instance, the reports generated from the inventory management software should be able to attach itself to the email app that your company is using. Other more advanced kinds of integration for inventory management is allowing the system itself to hook onto existing web services. Amazon, eBay and other marketplaces are rich in information that can benefit your inventory management. Another aspect where inventory is usually connected to is accounting which already features plenty of standard software.
If you own an online store, it will be of great benefit for your web developer if he/she is able to seamlessly connect with data from your inventory. This way, it will be easier to perform functions such as availability or price lookups.
If you own multiple fronts for your business, another aspect of integration will be put in play. You will need to consider integrating multiple inventory systems across all your inventory points.
What reports do you need
Reports are the end product of inventory management software and these should be one of your main considerations before buying one. As your business expands, the need to have timely reports will grow. Minor discrepancies can quickly be spotted then corrected and the inventory management software itself can be updated to reflect changes.
Another aspect of reporting that most kinds of software are slowly adapting is forecasting. Artificial intelligence runs at the heart of these forecast fueled by information fed to the system on a daily basis. Fully functioning inventory management software usually swell up to millions of transactions on a few month’s use. This wealth of information can be used to create reliable forecasts that will amplify the benefits that will be obtained from inventory management software. Forecast reports like demand forecasts are becoming the norm in new inventory management software offered in the market today.
AI can also be used to spot human errors and alert users before any changes can be committed. One of the main benefits of automation is allowing users to be able to work as quickly as possible without worry about the integrity of the inventory data.
One of the most tiresome aspects of software purchases is looking for support, after all, is said and done. Top companies usually offer 24/7 support for their product at a cost. While similar schemes but at lower scales are offered by mid-level system providers.
While great support is important, it should also be pointed out that the need for support stems from big learning curves that the software has. An inventory management software should be easy to learn especially for those who are already working in warehousing for a long time. As staff members come and go, this learning curve will become a recurring problem and pricey customer support will add up in value.
Not all inventory management software is made the same, there are ones that will fit better depending on the requirements of your company. The trick to getting the exact software that is right for you is understanding the current system that you are currently working with and developing a vision to the new one that you prefer.