If your business involves stock, whether it is products for sale or for manufacturing, keeping track of stock inventory is critical to know what you have, where it’s located and the value of the inventory you have on hand.
Not only is organizing and tracking your inventory important for customer service (to have inventory when you need it), but it’s also important from a financial perspective so you know the value of your inventory. Keeping track of your inventory will alert you to when you need to re order and give you an accurate snapshot of your inventory at any given time.
Maintenance Requires Discipline
Maintaining any inventory system requires discipline in entering all of your transactions and staying current with them. It is recommended that you set aside a few minutes each day for this critical clerical task. Of course, all stock requires a part or stock number with each transaction being posted to your system. If, even just once, you forget to enter stock coming in or going out, the entire system fails.
Anyone who owns or manages a business that has inventory should consider using inventory software. The best products will allow you to enter and view items using part numbers, let you attach important notes to each item, and help you manage recurring orders that you may have.
What to Look For
If your company keeps an inventory you definitely need to have inventory software to help you stay organized and on top of your stock of products. Inventory software can provide the basics of just keeping track of your inventory, but it can also help you manage customer relationships and even provide you with a calendar for purchasing goods.
Some of the best inventory management software is equipped with a low-level warning system that will alert you when your stock is getting low so you don’t run out of something that is selling well. You also have the ability to see, in real time, what stock you have on hand at another location and keep track of it. If you offer item kits it’s important to use a program that will allow you to keep an eye on your sales and inventory so that your kits are all accounted for.
When searching the for the best inventory program you should consider looking for one that will allow you to build and save your customer and supplier databases. In addition, you should have the ability to set user access rights for employees who need access to the database but don’t need to see sensitive information.
Another important feature is the ability to create and print customized reports, and you should be able to import and export inventory files and reports.
Ease of Use
Your inventory program should be easy for anyone to use. The best inventory software will offer tutorials and on-screen setup guides that will help you to incorporate all of your important information. You should also be able to find help on the manufacturer’s website with ease. Products that offer support without forcing you to buy a separate support package are also something to consider.
There are many affordable software systems available for small businesses. A manual system is one option (the old Kardex system comes to mind) but with software costs being what they are today they are not recommended. Following are three options available to organize and track your inventory.
Inventory Pro ($150.00), rated 5/10, covers all the basics including PDF capability for sending invoices, but does not handle bar codes which is generally not an issue for small business.
In Flow is another option, priced at approximately $300.00, is rated 10/10 for small business but will not run on a Mac. It does have kitting and financial options available.
Lastly, there is Small Business Inventory Control. Priced at an affordable $100.00 this program is rated 7/10 and allows for planning as well as lets you know what item or items are slow moving so you can adjust your purchase orders.
So now you have a few ideas to organize and track your inventory. Ultimately the one you decide to go with depends largely on the volume of your stock and your budget. Do your research and get the best inventory management system to organize your business inventory.