As more decision-makers weigh their current circumstances and desire for future growth, many
ultimately realize it’s time to strongly consider using automated inventory software. Alternatively,
some have already invested in such products and want to give themselves the best chances of
positive outcomes. No matter which category you’re in, here are some best practices to follow.
Best Practices To Master Automated Inventory Management
1. Set Current and Future Goals
Some company leaders base their technology investment goals on milestones they’ve heard peers have already achieved or things they’ve read in industry publications. That’s understandable and not necessarily wrong, but it’s also usually not the ideal approach.
Instead, people should aim to create goals that directly relate to the company’s present needs and future ones. A good starting point is to assess the specific things holding your company back from where you’d like it to be. Do workers struggle to meet productivity goals, or are there too many errors in everyday operations? If so, those are both challenges that automated inventory software could overcome.
Try setting goals for various intervals, such as three, six, nine, and 12 months. That way, there’s a good chance of everyone staying motivated. Relatedly, make the goals challenging but possible to meet. Doing that makes people feel excited, focused, and accountable. But they shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by constantly striving for goals that seem too out of reach.
While thinking of current goals versus future ones, aim to accomplish some quick wins first. Achieving them will help people stay upbeat. Change can be hard at times, even when people recognize the overall benefits that’ll eventually occur. However, when it’s easy for team members to see how automated inventory management software has improved things, they’ll have better attitudes about the future.
It’s also important to be understanding and as flexible as possible if individuals or the company don’t meet all goals. That situation does not necessarily mean failure. It’s just a common reality, particularly when using new software and building its functionality into existing workflows.
2. Allow for Ample Training Time
People learn new things at their own pace. Those who have grown up using computers, software, and smartphones may find their way around new platforms faster than those who don’t consider themselves tech natives.
It’s also worth pointing out that some people will find a product’s features more intuitive and user-friendly than others. But, the good thing about that common situation is the people who grasp how the program works the fastest can act as unofficial mentors for their peers. Peer mentoring works best when those being mentored understand they can always come to their mentors for guidance. Plus, those receiving instruction or support will probably have things to teach mentors, too.
The important thing to remember regarding software-related training is it’s better to err on the side of caution regarding the amount of time reserved for training. Flexibility is key because people should retain the information better and have more positive experiences if they don’t feel rushed.
Aim to present the training materials in a variety of formats when possible. Doing that accounts for learning differences. Some people prefer learning by watching videos while others find it easier to digest new information when reading written materials they can highlight or mark up to remind themselves of specific details.
Besides training people to use the software and its features, plan time to go over necessary cybersecurity best practices. A little can go a long way in keeping people and data safer. Conversely, a small slip-up can have incredible ramifications. Consider how a single compromised password allowed a hacker to break into the Colonial Pipeline infrastructure. Encouraging people to set strong passwords and never share them will help keep the company and its electronic assets safer.
3. Let the Automated Inventory Software Augment Processes
As people in your company get more accustomed to whatever software you use to manage inventory, they’ll likely create new processes made possible by the product’s capabilities. That’s an understandable outcome, but it’s also important to encourage users to explore how the software could improve their existing processes.
Your company might track inventory by separating it into groups representing profitability. The ABC method is one way to do it. It involves creating three inventory groups. The A group concerns most of your sales volume but the smallest segment of products on hand. Then, in the B group, you have about 15% of your company’s revenue and products taking up a modest amount of inventory. Finally, there’s the C segment, accounting for the slowest-moving stock that earns you very little revenue.
Another inventory management strategy is to choose to reorder points, which are the minimum amounts of products you must order to keep items in stock. Sales velocity is one factor that can help you calculate the right replenishment times. However, automated inventory management software could do it too. For example, you could set parameters so that reordering happens with little or no human intervention once stock drops lower than a specified level.
Spend time thinking about how automation might improve your current processes. Then, look deeper to learn about which steps you might take or features you’d use to get the desired outcomes. Finally, remember that process enhancement doesn’t always happen quickly. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile.
*Terms & Conditions apply
Vital Steps for Process Improvement
Spend time thinking about how automation might improve your current processes. Have there been recent occasions where stock-related data differed from physical items on hand? Perhaps managers have noticed stock-taking activities are incredibly time-intensive, albeit necessary.
Then, look deeper to learn about which steps you might take or features you’d use to get the desired outcomes. Consider discussing your specific needs with support representatives associated with the automated inventory management product you purchased. They’ll likely have valuable input due to all their collective interactions with clients in similar situations. Alternatively, your feedback may prompt them to submit a feature request that ultimately improves the product for companies beyond yours.
Finally, remember that process enhancement doesn’t always happen quickly. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. If team members run into obstacles, speak with them directly to get more details about what they find challenging, reminding them that things should get easier with time. When it’s clear you’re open to frank discussions, they’ll be more willing to bring up issues early rather than potentially spending days or weeks struggling with them.
Using Automated Inventory Software Is Worth the Effort
Besides following these best practices, remember to stay committed to your end goals. It’s often easier than people realize to become momentarily discouraged or overwhelmed when implementing any new technology. However, when you stay focused on the reasons why you chose to start using automated inventory software and encourage others to do the same, you’ll be highly likely to reap the benefits faster.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine, an online publication exploring science and technology innovations.