Ensuring adequate and reasonable inventories is vital to ensure seamless business operations. However, managing items needs an advanced level of foresight and accuracy because otherwise, the potential consequences, e.g. depreciation, insufficient stocks, unnecessary purchases that could lead to overstocking, and delays in shipment, can take a toll on the business and cause customer dissatisfaction which can eventually draw customers away.
Such consequences are often present in managing inventories manually but thanks to this digital era, the advancement in technology has paved the way for digital solutions that are designed to address inventory management problems. These solutions are joined into what is now known as inventory management software.
Selecting an Inventory Management Software – A Beginner’s Guide
Inventory management software is the ultimate solution that can automate the entire inventory management cycle. Automating the processes is expected to enhance efficiency in business as human errors will be curved or prevented, and tasks can possibly be completed in a timely and efficient manner.
However, as inventory management software is a costly investment, it pays to have the ability to spot which software among the plethora of options in the market is the right one to make sure you get the best and most gratifying worth of your investment. You can do that by considering seven essential factors listed below:
Factor #1: Your Requirements
Before switching to digitization, you have to have an in-depth understanding first about your requirements. As it will be a move to address the challenges your current processes are facing, you can start by listing down your requirements in light of those challenges. Ask yourself which areas you want to improve and have more control over and then sort them according to your degree of need. Is it to track your shipment status fast? Is it to update your inventory figures on time? Is it to monitor your inventory levels and in-and-out transactions? Your requirements will help guide you onto the right software, hence you have to define them as concise and clear as possible.
Factor #2: The Cost of the Software vs. Your Budget
Digital solutions like inventory management systems are priced depending on how many features they carry and how much convenience they can contribute to their clients. Previously, I asked you to list down your requirements and sort them based on how much you need them. That is because unless you have an enormous budget for the most powerful inventory management software with all possible features it can possibly come with, more often than not you will have to stick with the most important requirements and sacrifice the least important ones. Before sealing a deal, you have to be sure that your finances are ready for it.
The good news is, a lot of cloud based inventory management software are now flooding the market and some appear more affordable but equally advantageous. On that note, these options are very suitable for beginners with a low budget.
Factor #3: Your Ability to Customize
If your specifications are nothing typical, then customization is an essential factor you should prioritize. To ensure that you are considering the right software, you can be upfront with the supplier and ask them directly if the software is able to meet your requirements and future customization needs.
Now, if your business has already started automating and you just want an upgrade, then you have to make sure that the system you will be adapting can easily migrate the data from your existing software. That’s a must to keep the integrity of your data and to ensure zero downtime.
Factor #4: The Software’s Usability
A software’s usability gauges its effectiveness in eliminating the challenges present in the manual management approach. You have already spent a lot of money for inventory management software but the thing is; your expenses can even expand if your staff is having a hard time figuring out how to use it, which can equate to potential sales loss. You invest to simplify; thus, if the system is too hard to use, its design is an anti-beginner, or it is giving your team a headache, then it is not worth considering.
Now, do not be too confident if you happened to have technically savvy staff. It still pays to make sure that the system you will deploy is something they will want to use on a long-term basis.
How to ensure usability while choosing from your options? The answer is simple; spend some time navigating the system and see for yourself if the system can act more like a solution or otherwise. As much as possible, choose a software that is easy to learn or use. Otherwise, it will be costing you and your team a lot of energy, time, and money that can be risky for your business.
Factor #5: Is it integration-ready with other applications?
Whether an inventory management system is integrate-able or not still matters even if it is not your concern at the moment. In the future, if your business expands, you might have to use other software tools for your other processes, e.g. accounting, sales, purchasing, e-commerce, etc., and you will want your inventory management software ready for that.
Factor #6: The Software’s Flexibility
If you are 100% shifting from manual to automation, you should consider investing in a cloud-based inventory software if you want to prioritize flexibility. This will be useful should you want to access the system via a mobile device. It is a pivotal component, especially if your business has multiple branches or warehouses located differently.
Factor #7: Technical Support
The availability of technical support is necessary if downtimes are something you cannot afford in your business. It will help you go back on track the quickest time possible after facing technical glitches or committing erroneous or unusual transactions.
Technical support is usually included in the package. On that note, the higher a software is priced, the more entitled you should be for 24/7 support. Nonetheless, there are providers that offer support generously without an equivalent outrageous fee.
Nothing is perfect even when it comes to inventory management software. You can find one that is packed with features but it might drain your finances too. So, the secret here is to weigh your options accordingly and as much as possible, take feedback and online reviews about a software provider into consideration. Your business can never go wrong in the hands of a credible provider.