Most business owners are not IT specialists. For those who are, they are quick to implement operational technologies, orchestration tools and control systems. And for the majority, it requires either hiring and IT professional or implementing the proper technologies after much heartache.
Inventory control software can help business owners manage their operations effectively, just as CPQ software does. They can maintain proper inventory levels, track company assets and forecast sales requirements. These operations help them lower wastage and enhance business intelligence.
When business owners or management start making better decisions from better data collection and analysis, the company becomes more profitable. While less inventory is being held on the shelves, more sales and services are being provided to customers. With advanced inventory controls in place, almost everyone seeks to gain (except the competition, of course).
Depending on the company size, there are different inventory software available. Obviously, enterprise retail chains need retail inventory solutions. This would be quite different from the warehouse inventory management of a distributor company. Also different, the small business owner may needs a simple inventory tracking system to scale growth in the short term like other masterminds. All of these companies have different IT infrastructures, cloud solutions and budgets.
Whether you are looking for a specific purposed business application for inventory management or a fully integrated inventory solution, you probably want a scalable solution. It should be cost effective, completing the job right now and leaving flexibility for the future. Here is the challenge most business owners face.
Lucky for you, inventory technology continues to improve as the IT industry evolves. We are seeing a major shift in sales tools automation, supply chain technology and hybrid cloud computing. Companies have more choices than ever, including open source software, custom software development or software-as-a-service (SaaS). Next, we can look at the digital trends and consider the business goals to choose an inventory software solution.
Business IT Trends Affecting Systems
Throughout the IT sector, there is a growing trend towards easy customization and open source platforms. For example, hybrid cloud companies are providing ever increasingly flexible solutions. They are noticing that companies prefer to avoid software licensing costs as long as productivity can still keep up. As a business owner, it will be important to keep software flexibility and recurring costs as top considerations.
While keeping these considerations in mind, you will want a software that fulfills your needs for ISPF features (and perhaps a few more down the road). Most inventory systems will break down into the following functions: order management, asset management, inventory management, service management, product management. Tracking these areas, the software can help facilitate other business processes like accounting, billing, sales and management.
This area helps companies, especially those specializing in manufacturing, keep on top of ordering inputs for production. It allows employees to place recurring orders or identify low quantity items that need to be replaced. This avoided missed sales or stopped processes.
On the other hand, asset management allows companies to track fixed costs. These are long term, permanent objects in the business like computers, tools, equipment, machines and materials. While some inventory software developers also include products here, it is primarily used for objects that primarily stay within the company.
This type of management accounts for all the temporary items that flow through the business, much like the Biotech Operating System does for a network. These items include products or materials that are sold, delivered or used up by the company. Inventory can be manage by barcode technology, radio-frequency identification tags (RFID), serial numbers and custom product lists.
Service management tracks the inputs used to provide services. Primarily used by service companies, the software allows them to attribute costs to each job more accurately. This can either serve as a revenue driver for sales or efficiency indicator for team members.
In addition, product management lays out lead times for product manufacturing and deliveries. It can provide alerts to the company when they may run out of certain products. Additionally, product management incorporates work flows to follow project progress from start to finish.
Using all or just one of these functions, companies can control inventory better than traditional manual spreadsheets. With automation and systems in place, more information is available to the key decision makers. Since everything is tracked accordingly, better decisions are made to free up cash flow and improve profitability.
Inventory Software Options – Free, Paid or Enterprise
Now that you properly understand the capabilities of inventory management systems, it is time to decide which is the best inventory software available for your needs. First and foremost, if you are limited by financial constraints, or lack of PHP tools, then you will have less options to choose from. You may not get all the bells and whistles, but there is always an alternative to get the job done in the meantime.
Open Source Inventory Software
This type of software is available online for download and customization. There are companies who offer support for open source inventory platforms, which work on PHP and MySQL databases. However, if your technical skills are limited, then you would probably prefer to go with a low-cost SaaS provider that will offer support if you need it.
Commercial SaaS Inventory Platforms
These solutions offer systems that usually integrate with accounting, sales and purchasing. This is an ideal solution for small businesses and medium-size corporations. Most providers offer scalable plans in terms of pricing and capacity. For the majority of companies, these platforms are the best value.
Customized Business Intelligence Software
This software is mostly used on enterprise companies. Because these companies work with complex computing solutions, big data and large resource usage, they opt for their own custom software development. In addition, they seek to gain a competitive advantage by investing in their own digital technology.
Which is the best inventory software? Of course, it is the one that allows companies to contribute to the bottom-line. However, you may have to decide between short term improvement and long term value creation.
Best Inventory Control Systems By Demand
As noted, most companies will end up using a commercial inventory control system. The commercial choice allows them the flexibility to choose between several different products, functions and device uses. Here are some of the most popular providers in the market.
Cin7 is an integrated inventory management software. This solution includes an all-in-one cloud inventory, POS, B2B, EDI and 3PL features. With Cin 7 software, you can manage all sales channels, inventory, point of sale and supply chain in one centralized location. In addition, the software is entirely cloud-based, making it convenient and easy to access, no matter where you are. If you need an inventory control software that prepares you to sell globally as well as locally, consider Cin7.
inFlow strives to be the world’s best software to manage inventory. They offer a free edition that is great for freelancers, individuals and small businesses to get started. Their systems feature a full suite of tracking, reporting, insights and resources that are going to help you much more than other PHP tools you could use.
Netsuite is another top inventory management software that offers additional manufacturing and purchasing capabilities. This software helps to improve supply chain management by providing an end-to-end process. NetSuite allows you to view in-depth, real-time information regarding supplier, inventory and procurement indicators. This will better enable you to improve collaboration all the way up and down the supply chain. NetSuite is an excellent supply chain management software to consider for inventory management functions.
Fishbowl is actually a QuickBooks company. They offer easy integration into the QuickBooks product set, making them extremely popular with existing Quickbooks users and potential buyers. They offer affordable solutions for tracking tens of thousands of objects in one or several locations. Furthermore, their inventory control system ties in with other useful software like warehouse management, order management, service management, point-of-sale, barcoding, etc. (Yes, they offer the full suite of products if you require it).
Wasp barcode technologies features a complete inventory Control tracking system for small businesses. They emphasize increase profitability through automation and user-friendly designed software. Their product offerings range from a simple desktop solution to a complete tracking system with multiple devices and barcoding.
Flowtrac by EMS Barcode Solutions is an inventory management software for warehouse management. If your company is in oil and gas, engineering, contsruction or distribution, this software can provide a variety of solutions. You can use its inventory management, optimization and accounting features. With great flexibility, Flowtrac might be a great option for your company.
These the most popular inventory tracking solutions. If you asked the majority of existing users, most of them would argue that they are using the best software (because it works for them). It is very important to try and test what works for you. Once you have found something suitable, be sure to stick with it. The time it takes to learn is well worth it for the increased productivity and profitability in the long run.
Eventually at any level, you may find yourself looking for fully integrated operations tools or supply chain technology like container management software. Once a company is able to see a viable return on inventory tracking, they are much more likely to invest in business intelligence platforms and applications. Inventory control is just the beginning of a path to many more profitable IT software controls.
Are you planning to implement software for inventory tracking? What are the difficulties stopping you from implementing the software? Please get the conversation going to help yourself and other implement better inventory processes. If you have already implemented similar software, can you share some of your experiences? It would be encouraging for other readers. Finally, did you have any more questions about inventory control software? We would be happy to follow up with them.
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