4 min read
When looking for an effective inventory management system there are many things to consider and investigate but in the beginning there are two simple but vital questions that should be answered: What do you need? And what do your customers need? From these principles everything else flows.
What do you need?
The selection of an inventory management system should always start with an analysis of where you are now and where you want to be. For example, do you have 99.9% picking accuracy? Have you identified any bottlenecks within your incumbent system/operational process? Does your company deal with expensive stock write offs? Providing this internal analysis to your stock control software provider clearly identifies the areas in which improvements can be made and directs the development and implementation teams to focus on these areas of maximum concern.
Of course there are many other reasons for investing in a new stock management system. Perhaps you are running with very high staffing levels and, therefore, low productivity. Perhaps your company is successful and expanding and you have a need for better space utilisation. Or maybe the stock management system you have in situ is unreliable, inflexible or just difficult to use and the back-up services offered by your supplier are insufficient for your needs.
It may be, of course, that many or all of these problems have come together to create a situation that is untenable and not serving the business well. “When companies have outdated inventory management systems and are looking to upgrade, it is essential that they prioritise their needs,” explained Tony Liddar, Managing Director of MACS Software. “This way our team can build on what is working well and is familiar to the operators and only make radical changes where they will have the greatest benefit to the business.”
Of course, any upgrade in stock control software is a significant investment made for the long term. For this reason it is also essential that users build in as much future proofing as possible to ensure that the system will continue to cope as the business grows. “But it’s hard to guess what the future holds,” said Tony. “Rather than try to predict every twist and turn, it makes more sense to make sure that flexibility is built into any stock management system so that it can evolve as the company’s demands change.”
What do your customers want?
All successful businesses are focussed to ensure that they understand their customers’ needs today and can adapt quickly as those needs inevitably change. Every customer, however, will have different priorities and it is for users of inventory management systems to make certain that their systems have the flexibility to give them what they want and provide the experience to maximise operational efficiency.
Accurate reporting, perhaps with automatic scheduling, will be important to most. Many too will consider auditability and visibility of stock to be critical. Everyone wants value for money and reliability. But perhaps the most important feature of any stock control system is flexibility. Yes, it’s important to have a system that provides what your customers want today, but what happens when those needs change?
“Much of our development work today is as a result, amongst other things, of our customers’ customers changing their requirements,” explained Tony. “This requires the stock control software to interface with many different systems and to provide additional functionality. To provide the speed of development our customers expect we have to have both the internal resources and the experience to know that we don’t have to start from scratch each time a customer needs a change.”
So, in conclusion, when considering a new inventory management system focus clearly on what your business needs, what your customers need, and choose a flexible system from a partner that has the resources, know-how and experience to provide the speed of response necessary to keep you ahead of the rest as the market evolves.
Earlier this year, following a devastating earthquake and subsequent cholera outbreak, MACS sent in reinforcements to get the SCMS (a delivery partner for USAID) warehouse, which despatches vital antiviral drugs, back to full operational capacity.
We all celebrated MACS Software’s 21st birthday recently with a staff trip to the Sutton Elms Go-Karting circuit in Leicestershire in order to let off a little steam. Some of the team showed a natural aptitude for thrashing around a race track – a far cry from our day jobs designing software for some of the world’s leading corporations.