For many businesses, the idea of managing their inventory can be a difficult process. There are several options available for managing inventory control, and pros and cons to each of them. Three popular methods are an in house inventory process with spreadsheets, outsourcing inventory with a professional company and finally, using a specialized software to manage your business’ inventory. |
In house spreadsheets
The sophistication of the spreadsheet is amazing – if you know how to properly unlock all of the available functions. If you have an expert in using these programs working for you – give them a raise, never let them leave and ask them to set up an inventory sheet.
PROS Cost – most offices already have an office suite installed on their work computers Learning curve – this may be a PRO or a CON, depending on your level of expertise in the program
CONS Difficulty – these programs are not specifically designed for this type of work Requires cross-training – the sheet should be transparent enough for anyone to pick it up and work on it. Most people are under-trained in using spreadsheets. Outsourcing
Using an inventory control company to take your inventory and help you get an out of control inventory into focus. This approach can be very helpful for the annual inventory, but not necessarily the best way to handle day to day inventory levels. Some companies will help you to set up an inventory management program or recommend methods to help your company manage daily inventory operations.
PROS Quicker – since these are dedicated inventory professionals, they usually work more quickly. Fewer distractions - additionally, since these workers are able to focus 100% of their time and effort on doing your inventory counts, the work can be completed more quickly.
CONS Annual vs. daily – as mentioned above, these companies are better able to help with annual inventory projects rather than day to day operations. Overkill for small companies – hiring an outside company for your inventory may be like trying to use a jet engine on a lawn mower. You simply may not need to bring in the big guns just yet.
Specialized inventory software
For those not needing the jet engine on their lawnmower and who are not experts in office suite spreadsheets, there is a middle ground – there are several inventory software programs available to help businesses of all sizes – including small business manage their inventory system.
PROS Cost – most of these products are reasonably priced for the smaller business. Learning curve and expandability – the right program can be easy to learn with the proper user interface. Many programs will grow with a company and expand as their needs do.
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