If you’re a supply chain business, getting inventory right is critical to your success. But have you outgrown your current inventory management process? You may already be using an ERP solution that includes an inventory management component. Or you may even be relying on manual spreadsheets to plan and track your stock. But as your business grows, your current approach may not provide the functionality you need to handle more sophisticated inventory management. Consider whether any of these issues is causing your company problems:
- Do you over-order inventory to avoid stock-outs?
- How often do you run out of stock?
- Do you have real-time information on your inventory levels?
- Do you have full visibility of your sales data?
- Do you have to rely on manual processes to pull inventory data from your ERP system? How much time does that take each month?
- How easy is it to evaluate the performance of your suppliers?
- Do you get automated inventory level alerts?
- Can you automate promotions and discounts?
- Are you able to make data-driven demand forecasts, or do you have to rely on “gut feelings?”
- How accurate are your forecasts?
Depending on your answers to these questions, now could be the time to upgrade to a solution that provides better forecasting, planning, and management. Here are some things to keep in mind as you consider the best solution for your needs.
Evaluate your current costs.
You’ll still be investing in your ERP system even if you upgrade your inventory management approach. But you can eliminate other costs associated with using Excel or other error-prone manual tools. Consider how much time it takes your staff to handle manual data entry, consolidate information from multiple disparate sources, and produce reports. Evaluate the cost of previous errors that have occurred due to limitations such as incorrect formulas or reliance on outdated spreadsheets. And factor in the cost of carrying excess stock or experiencing stock-outs due to poor forecasting capabilities and a lack of real-time knowledge of your inventory levels.
Look for a cloud-based solution.
Even if your ERP is an on-site system, you should choose a cloud-based solution for your inventory management needs. Cloud technology cuts down on your IT costs and means that you have access to all your critical information any time, from any location. Cloud-based systems provide superior visibility into your inventory levels with real-time access to data, so you’re not relying on outdated information. And the right cloud-based option can integrate seamlessly with your ERP platform, allowing you to automate functions from data aggregation to reporting.
Choose the right vendor.
Selecting the right vendor is key to successfully winding up with – and implementing – the right solution. Ask prospective vendors how long they’ve been in business, how many customers they have, how their pricing works, and what services and technical support are included in their fees. Investigate their online and social media reputations. Evaluate their training capabilities. And be sure to ask for customer testimonials and references.
Consider product functionality.
Once you’ve narrowed your list of possible vendors, you can take a look at the inventory management challenges created by your current approach and determine if their solutions address those challenges. Rather than relying on online demos, request that each vendor conduct a personal demo for your company. In addition to assessing the product, a personal demo gives you the opportunity to evaluate their knowledge of your industry and their understanding of your needs. Most importantly, you can get a sense of whether each vendor has a business approach that is compatible with yours.
If it’s time for your organization to upgrade your inventory management tools, MicroAccounting can help. Call us today at 855-876-3773 to find out more about our solutions, including Sage100 and Sage Inventory Advisor.