In order to get your inventory management software up and running and then keep it working for you, you need to involve the IT department and utilize IT resources. These resources include server and client computers, routers, mobile hardware, software, and SSL certificates. As you can see, there are a lot of dimensions to this topic, and we will cover them one at a time.
SET UP AND IMPLEMENT THE INVENTORY MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
We have an entire article dedicated to the topic of how to implement inventory software, so if you would like an in-depth dive into it, be sure to click the link above. We will quickly summarize everything in that article here. Pretty much all inventory software types can be grouped into three broad categories. We’ll describe each one and explain how they are set up:
- Desktop inventory software – A single computer hosts both the server and client versions of the desktop inventory software. This way, there is no disconnect between the two, and you can simply house everything on one device. You will need to make sure the desktop computer has enough RAM and processing power to handle the software, and you will probably require an IT specialist on staff to handle any challenges that come up when using it.
- Server network inventory software - A server computer hosts the software, which can be accessed on client computers. This setup is more complicated than the first option because there is more hardware involved in making it work. Again, you will need to check the technology requirements to be sure the server and client computers are up to the task. A key benefit is that more employees will be able to access the software. You will likely need to hire a few IT employees to keep everything operating properly.
- Cloud-based inventory software – This software is hosted offsite, and it can be accessed on any Internet-connected device via Web browser or app. Since there is no client or server computer to maintain, the hardware requirements are much less stringent than the ones for the first two options. Check the RAM and memory requirements, as well as the operating system and screen resolution specifications of the software you choose to make sure your device will work well with it. Little to no IT staff is required for this solution.
CONSIDER OUTSOURCING YOUR SERVER HOSTING AND DATA SECURITY
If you would like to minimize IT expenses while still making use of server network inventory software, you can use a server hosting service to handle most of the IT tasks for you. Depending on the service you select, you may be able to have your inventory software pre-installed on your hosted server and then simply install the client on computers to access your company file on it. You will not have to worry about system upgrades, data backups, security, or access issues. All of this can be handled for you. This may not be the ideal option for every company, but it may be something worth looking into.
BRING YOUR OWN MOBILE HARDWARE
The cloud-based inventory software option offers a great deal of flexibility in terms of the hardware you can use it on. We touched on this point briefly above, and we will go into greater detail about it now. Instead of having to purchase a great deal of expensive desktop computers, monitors, and other hardware, imagine just pulling out a tablet you already own and using it to manage your inventory. Your employees could also bring their own mobile devices to work and use them to scan barcodes, cycle count inventory, perform batch picks, reorder goods, and much more. And your inventory can remain secure with the aid of user rights assigned to each worker. That way, they only have access to specific areas of the software that are related to their assigned duties. They are restricted in one way, but freed in the sense of being able to access the necessary information to do their jobs on their personal devices from anywhere in the warehouse or outside the warehouse.
GET BARCODE PRINTERS, POINT OF SALE KITS, AND OTHER TOOLS
Even with the ability to use smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers, you will still likely need to use some hardware that is designed exclusively for certain tasks. For example, barcode printers are necessary if you want to be able to print out barcodes in the right shapes and sizes for your various parts and products. You may also need to print shipping labels, invoices, and other things, so it is a good idea to study your hardware options in the realm of printers. In addition, there are point of sale kits that include a touchscreen display, scanner, card reader, and cash drawer to let you accept payment from customers in exchange for your products. Each piece is essential to making the payment process possible.
INTEGRATE WITH OTHER BUSINESS SOLUTIONS
In addition to setting up your inventory management software and using it on a daily basis, you may find it useful to integrate it with other business solutions. For example, QuickBooks is a popular accounting solution that many small and medium-size businesses use to manage their finances. If you integrate your inventory management software with QuickBooks, you can eliminate double data entry and keep your financial and inventory records synchronized with each other on a scheduled basis. And there are plenty of other business solutions you can integrate with to automate a lot of your work. These include e-commerce, shipping, manufacturing, CRM, merchant services, and EDI tools.
JUST DO IT
When it comes to IT inventory management software, follow Nike’s advice and just do IT. Learn about the hardware requirements of the software you want to use, consider using an offsite hosted server, use existing mobile devices and specialty hardware, and integrate with other software you are currently using. By doing all of this, you can rest assured your inventory management software will function properly for your business.
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Information technology (IT) is a necessary component of using inventory management software. It’s important to take into account the following tasks and IT’s role in them:
- Set up and implement the inventory management software.
- Consider outsourcing your server hosting and data security.
- Bring your own mobile hardware.
- Get barcode printers, point of sale kits, and other tools.
- Integrate with other business solutions.