The complete guide to using Inventory Management Software
To begin with, inventory management software is a great choice, if you want to boost your company’s efficiency and overall success. However, let’s answer a few important questions before taking action.
Can your specific business benefit from inventory management software?
Companies that deal with large numbers of physical products are the typical and most successful users of inventory management solutions. Inventory tracking software enables such businesses to improve practices by:
a) Delivering day to day inventory tasks much quicker
b) Having essential data available to make improvements
c) Saving you time to use such data effectively
Does this suit your company’s profile and its needs? If so, congratulations, you’re on the right path!
Let’s take a step further and look at the industry type you are working in. Inventory management software is beneficial to and different for particular industries including retail, manufacturing, as well as distribution. Each solution offers unique features for a particular industry. You might actually find a number of tools available for your particular type of business.
Company size is yet another thing you might be questioning. To answer that, inventory management software solutions are available for individual stores as well as multi-franchise companies. Though, it is important to remember that the best small business inventory software tool on the market might be completely unsuitable to a larger company.
Finally, there is a number of inventory management tools for different software requirements. Are you looking for a specialty inventory tracking solution? Or maybe you are interested in a full-suite application? Keep your answers in mind as they will help you determine the type of software most suitable for your business’s needs.
What can inventory management software help you with?
Inventory tracking software can assist you with a number of your business’s tasks and processes, including:
- Product categorization. This smart feature can bring order to chaos by listing products according to their name, price tag, type, supplier, and so on. In addition, it will significantly increase control over your inventory as you will be able to track every movement carefully.
- Sales/purchase orders. Inventory management software will provide you with access to order tracking, inventory control, and invoice management tools via a single system.
- Electronic scanning. This excellent feature can take your inventory management to a whole new level. It will enable electronic data interchange and inform you about global selling trends.
- Automatic ordering. Consider your time and manual efforts for ordering processes significantly reduced! It is worthy to point out that you will gain from this feature regardless of the number of products you sell.
- Dynamic product information. What we mean by this term, is the access and full inventory control of your company’s stock. It will allow you to manage each and every product better.
To sum up: What are the main benefits of using inventory management software?
To help you make up your mind, here are the three top benefits of inventory tracking systems that companies have pointed out repeatedly:
- Efficiency and Speed. Fortunately and unfortunately for us humans, automated tools have proven to be much quicker and accurate than people. Inventory management software is definitely not an exception.
- Document Generation.Tracking and storing data automatically has got yet another perk. You will be able to use the system to quickly generate a list of documents, including account statements, invoices, checks, as well as purchase orders.
- Insightful Data. Inventory tracking systems offer insightful reports on your business performance such as how many products are in stock, how many have reached the customer, and which are your best-sellers.
So now you have considered all the facts, and you are convinced that inventory management software would benefit your business. But how do you choose the right one?
There are plenty of options for you to choose from, varying from free and basic solutions to extra pricey and accurate software. Here are the three main types:
- On-premise inventory management systems. These solutions operate on a single license and are hosted on a company’s local server. Be aware that such software is the most costly due to a complicated setup.
- Software-as-a-service (SaaS) inventory management systems. These tools operate on a subscription basis and are hosted on the provider’s server.
- Cloud-hosted inventory management systems. The majority of these offer free and universal access. If you are looking for a budget solution, this is likely your best choice.
The first and most important task for you is to make sure the chosen solution is appropriate for your company’s needs. You do not need to worry about the delivery method or pricing model just yet. Let’s focus on getting the right solution first. Second, a little investigation on the background of the vendor and its tool right now might save you a lot of time and money later on.
Taking a step forward, make sure to read the proposed contract as well as terms and conditions. Being clear about the renewal terms and notice time for cancellation is strongly recommended. Use your negotiation skills to the fullest. It could save you a reasonable amount of money. Furthermore, be aware of the discounted offer ending date and long-term costs. It is too easy to get lost.
Pricing details are also a vital thing to pay attention to if you are considering SaaS vendors. Ask the provider whether they offer price protection as well as flexibility with their contracts. One of the common dangers with SaaS is that businesses tend to sign up for more than they require.
Moreover, consumers often choose to subscribe to long-term contracts because of better pricing offers. Other two areas to look at when talking about SaaS options are disaster recovery and data security. Too many of SaaS providers do not provide a disaster recovery site. Here is a list of questions that might help you determine their capabilities:
- How do you know your disaster recovery processes are reliable?
- How quickly can you recover?
- How often do you try the quality of your processes?
- What is the infrastructure of your chief and recovery site?
Another interesting fact to know is that many SaaS providers do not use enterprise-grade infrastructure for SaaS app installation. Many software options have multiple vendors. To make the picture more accurate, there might be a firewall provider, a different internet provider and some others in the mix. This leads to a possible issue with accountability. Who is responsible for a certain outcome, or worse: liable for a problem? Therefore, try to minimize the number of vendors to ensure valid accountability.
So many obstacles to be aware of. On the other hand, here is the list of advantages to look for in SaaS offers:
- Reduced Cost: Most SaaS tools are pay as you go. Therefore, you won’t be needing to make extra investments related to the system.
- Fast Set-up Time and Minimized Risk: Enjoy the quick and easy integration process. Also, make the best of the trial period. You do not need to commit unless the system satisfies your needs.
- Customization and Integration: Choose a vendor that provides a wide variety of software packages as well as modules. You should be asked to pay only for the features that are required to meet your business’s current needs.
- Security and Control: Never negotiate security! Choose only the system that provides robust data protection.
- The Infrastructure: The vendor should provide the full infrastructure that is required. You should not need to host anything in-house.
- Web Access: You and your employees should have access to data anywhere and anytime. A good decision is to choose a provider that also offers a mobile app in addition to the regular service.
In case you are considering cloud providers, it is crucial for you to get to know whether the vendor meets compliance as well as security requirements. Remember that your business is accountable to staff members, clients, business partners, as well as regulators. Because of this, you should only pick a provider that offers a technically sound and reliable security program.
To make it even better, map your security control needs, including availability, integrity, privacy, confidentiality, as well as accountability to the vendor’s capabilities. Ask the prominent vendor to explain how they are going to protect your sensitive data. Prepare a list of the most important questions to you and do not shy away from getting satisfactory answers from your future inventory management software provider.
The best way to get to know your options is to sign up for free trial plans from the most popular providers. By doing so, you will have the chance to test the important features and overall capabilities of the tools. Additionally, read market evaluations as well as customer reviews.
A lot of things to consider indeed. However, if you do your homework, you’ll be able to choose the best inventory management software for your company and your peace of mind.
If you still would like to get more advice, why not chat with our guru?