A Guide to Selecting an Inventory Management Software for Your Business

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So you’ve finally seen the value of an inventory management system to improve your inventory processes and now you’re ready to list your options. But as most software providers sell compelling inventory management features, more often than not, the choosing may take a while. To simplify your process of choosing, it is best to keep these important factors in mind:

  1. Requirements

A standard inventory management software features bar-coding and scanning, basic inventory control that significantly prevents overstocking and stock-outs, inventory alerts, automatic reordering, and a straightforward report generation facility. The more sophisticated ones include features like demand and inventory forecasting, accounting tools, order tracking, and a lot more.

Just because you can afford that software, it does not necessarily mean it is automatically the right one for your business. Inventory management systems are priced depending on their features: some are necessary, others are extra advancements that may not be applicable for the type of business environment you are in. What you will want to avoid is spending a fortune for a software with a lot of features you are not going to need.

Hence, before you take your pick, make sure you already know your business’s current inventory processes and you’ve already identified which ones need automation. Surely, there are a lot of areas that need an efficient takeover. Take your labeling of stocks for instance. If the manual labeling has taken your workforce too much time and the outsourcing of the printouts gives you less control in terms of cost and availability, then your ideal choice of inventory management software must also feature a barcode system, and so on and so forth.

  1. Budget

Business software like inventory management system come with a hefty price tag. Oftentimes, this sparks concerns among business owners especially those who were first skeptical about it being a necessity. Given this reality, taking more time in deciding your budget may be necessary. Luckily, the sufficient supply of inventory management software in the market now makes it possible to acquire them through friendly options. Below are some of them:

Choosing Off the Shelf

One of your friendly options in choosing an inventory management software are the off the shelf inventory software packages or those that are not predesigned or preordered but rather taken from existing supplies or stock. The latest practice in business software development already incorporates modularity or the degree to which the components of a software may be recombined or separated to make it flexible and adaptable for every business’s use. What makes this a good option is that the performance and efficiency of off-the-shelf software are guaranteed and tested by their previous users. You are most likely going to reap the benefits from this option for as long as you have already looked into the provider’s track record and made sure the brand is worthy of trust.

From Reputable Software Development Companies

Software providers develop programs based on requirements that their clients have set. Those from established brands are usually pricier but this is not going to be an issue if you have enough budget allocation for it. The best thing about this option is that as a client, you can demand as much as you can from them or if you don’t have a background about software development, all you’ll need to do is present to them your current processes and then they’ll do all the planning and conceptualization up to the design and deployment of the software with the necessary automations. If you already have a plan in mind and drafted this with the concurrence of the parties concerned, you also have the option to be hands-on in the development or you can choose to just go on with your business and wait for the delivery of results.

When choosing this option, the only downside is the price you’ll need to pay given that the software is especially developed according to your needs and requirements.

In-house Software Development

This is another option you can have if you are a medium to huge sized company with an in-house software development team. Hiring an in-house team is a cost-efficient solution if your company has identified many processes that need automation. The added benefit of this for the business is the high accessibility and availability of system support, ensuring no downtime on the part of the users.

  1. Usability

Ease of use is an important requirement for those who use any new software, more so for those are assigned to work on the automated tasks. Hence, the learning curve or the time it will need for them to learn the new inventory management software has to be taken into account to avoid unnecessary delays that may cause backlogs.

  1. Scalability

Scalability is also an important consideration in selecting an inventory management software. Take a look at the size of your business inventory. If it grows, the system has to be able to support the processes still. If you think upgrade or expansion is your business’s next big step, make sure your chosen software is ready for more users or huge sizes of data. Ask first before you purchase.

  1. Integration

From a programmer’s standpoint, one of the complex tasks that need thorough consideration and implementation is making a newly developed software integration-ready with an existing one. The less expensive systems sold in the market today usually lack this feature.

Portability of the newly bought system is necessary as you might need the integration when your business expands. To avoid losing information due to the incompatibility of programs which can significantly hamper the business’s operations, go for an inventory software that makes integration a non-issue. Systems that are usually integrated with inventory management software include purchasing systems, e-commerce, warehousing management systems, and accounting systems.

  1. System Support

One of the potential problems you should avoid is to have you and your employees left alone trying to figure out how to use the newly purchased inventory system by yourselves. If your system is not in-house developed, make sure that you are entitled to receive complete system support from your software provider. This has to cover training, warranty, and/or on-time physical or virtual assistance. System support is an important requirement to avoid operation downtime. Your transaction with the provider should only end once the users have already familiarized the features and usability of the software.

Make sure you get the best value of your investment. Always ensure that your inventory management software fits with your business needs.

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