- On paper.
- With Excel spreadsheets.
- Using inventory management software.
Each one has its own pros and cons, so let’s analyze them so you can see which one is best for your business.
Managing inventory with a pen and paper seems like an easy proposition. It just takes your time and a little ink and paper. It’s inexpensive in the fact that you don’t have to pay much for the supplies. But it’s expensive in the fact that it takes a lot of time to manually update your inventory records every time you make a change.
This is very limiting because the papers containing inventory data can’t be viewed by multiple people in different locations. Also, they can easily get misplaced, lost, stolen, or destroyed. And they aren’t easily replaced.
The nice thing about Excel is that it can be used for storing all sorts of information, including inventory data. This includes such things as vendor names, order numbers, and product quantities.
Someone with the right skill set can adapt Excel spreadsheets to transform them into a full-blown inventory management system. But if the worker who created your Excel inventory management system ever leaves your company, you’ll most likely be up the river without a paddle. They probably won’t leave behind detailed notes on how to use the system, so you might have to start over from scratch. Also, Excel can’t be automated to instantly add new entries when you make changes to your inventory. You’ve got to do all of that by hand.
Inventory Management Software
Inventory management software allows you to automate numerous processes by in a variety of ways, such as:
- Setting up automatic reorder points on all of your parts and products.
- Using barcode scanners in your daily operations.
- Speeding up the ordering process.
- Quickly picking orders in batches or one at a time.
- Receiving goods into a warehouse with speed and precision.
Anyone can be trained on how to use it, and access can be restricted to certain personnel to prevent data breaches and unauthorized edits to key components of the software. Speaking of the software, it lets you instantly update inventory numbers and take those numbers and put them into detailed reports.
Inventory management software is more expensive than the other two options, and it can require more time to learn and set up. But the initial expense and effort are worth it to enjoy all of the benefits this type of system offers.
Robert Lockard is a copywriter with Fishbowl. He writes for several blogs about inventory management, manufacturing, QuickBooks, and small business. Fishbowl is the #1-requested manufacturing and warehouse management software for QuickBooks users. Robert enjoys running, reading, writing, spending time with his wife and children, and watching movies.