Six Tips for Getting Your Inventory Management System Implementation Right

You’ve outgrown spreadsheets for managing your inventory and are ready to move to an automated inventory management system (IMS). You’re looking forward to all the ways an IMS will help you optimize your inventory levels and improve profitability. But far too many companies who have invested in an IMS don’t get the implementation right. There are three main reasons that companies continue to struggle with problems their IMS should have solved.

Reason 1: Not getting buy-in from the right people.

For your IMS implementation to succeed, it’s critical to have the support of key stakeholders in the organization.

Reason 2: The wrong project management.

Failure to manage both the implementation and the ongoing use of your IMS properly means you won’t achieve the results you expect.

Reason 3: Not defining company needs and objectives adequately.

In order to have the best IMS configuration for your company, you first have to clearly understand what you need it to do and define your expectations.

The good news is, there are steps you can take to make sure that the investment you make – both in time and money – leads to the improvements you’re looking for. Here are six tips for getting your IMS implementation right.

Tip 1: Include the right people.

Having the involvement and support of key stakeholders greatly increases the probability that you’ll get the improvements you expect from your IMS. The right people will vary by company, but most teams will include:

  • A member of top management
  • An experienced project manager
  • An IT representative who understands your ERP platform
  • Planners/buyers
  • A production planner and branch managers (if you have multiple locations)
  • A superuser, or the person who will be responsible for the ongoing management of the system

Tip 2: Ask the right questions.
You want to be sure your IMS is configured to address your greatest inventory challenges. It’s important to know:

  • What is the structure of your supply chain?
  • What is the relationship between the central warehouse and any branch locations? How are products supplied?
  • How are orders between locations handled?
  • Do you use bills of material? Do they vary by location?
  • How many periods of sales data do you need access to?
  • Will it be necessary to manage supersessions? If so, how are they handled? Are there time restrictions?

Tip 3: Put the right plan in place.

Change management is a step that is often overlooked. But it is critical to the success of your implementation. Your employees are used to the way they’ve been managing inventory. Even if they’ve been relying on spreadsheets and cumbersome manual processes, users may be reluctant to part with the old way of doing things. To be successful, take the time to show users how the IMS will save them time and make their jobs easier.

Tip 4: Make sure the data is right.

Once the data is available in your IMS, your first step should be to verify that it matches the data in your ERP system. IMS implementation also gives you the opportunity to clean up your inventory data, and your IMS solution may even include tools that will help. Data purity tools can address issues such as items with zero or negative cost, no supplier, or zero lead time.

Tip 5: Add users at the right time.

Before adding users, it’s important that the superuser perform a usability check to ensure that the system performs as expected. You should also make sure that the data is available – and correct. Nothing will turn users off more quickly than logging in for the first time only to encounter incorrect information or a system they can’t figure out. Proper training in advance of adding users is also critical.

Tip 6: Assign the right person to manage your IMS.

A successful IMS implementation isn’t just about the initial setup. You will need to assign an employee to handle the ongoing management of the system – on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Taking the time to get your IMS implementation right will ensure that you reap all the benefits you expect. MicroAccounting can help you with the selection and implementation of an inventory management system such as Sage Inventory Advisor. Call today at 855-876-3773 to find out more.