Managing your manufacturing inventory can be complex and challenging. This is because it involves many tasks such as supply chain management, demand forecasting, bills of material, production planning, and scheduling, and more.
For small companies that want to scale, this challenge can be tricky and can easily spiral out of control if not handled right. Yet your business must monitor and keep inventory levels optimal. These, in turn, will enhance production or distribution, whether it is wholesale or retail.
But how do you keep this right? Your business needs to go beyond the old-fashioned tools such as the clipboard, excel sheets or simply using memorization. You need smarter tools to keep pace with competition and customer demands. If you are serious about growing and scaling your business, then you need to seriously consider manufacturing inventory software.
Fortunately, there are now a number of good affordable manufacturing inventory software options that you can choose from to streamline your operations. These software tools are best placed to give your firm a faster route to scale and be profitable. But how do you know which option is best for your business. Which ones have the shortest learning curve, and provide you everything you need to be successful?
To help you narrow the options, here are 5 key features that you should expect from your manufacturing inventory software to give you to manage your inventory and scale your business.
Perfect Control of your inventory
At first glance, this may seem obvious. However, in practice, people often ignore this with negative results. At the minimum, your software should offer you good control features including a real-time product availability report. If you don’t know whether you have something in stock, you run the risk of overselling, (causing customer dissatisfaction issues,) and not stocking up in time to keep up with demand.
Your product availability report helps you to anticipate when your inventory will run low and need to reorder. Your manufacturing inventory software should also tell you more than what you have in stock. How do you make sense of the numbers?
Your software should aid you to make important decisions based on these numbers. A functionality like smart automated reordering keeps you from running out of any needed items. It also tells you if something isn’t moving out quickly enough. That signals for you against over-ordering it. Or it can give you valuable insights into what products you need to discontinue.
Automation of reorders
Trends continue to show that the adoption of automation technology will accelerate with warehouse operations. For example, figures reveal a 72 to 76 percent reduction in manual picking, with software automation featuring prominently.
Automating processes takes away a lot of the heavy lifting from you. That can make for fewer hassles, fewer mistakes, with little bottlenecks on the way.
For example, product reorders are one of the key areas that you can automate. Simply put, your manufacturing inventory software should take control of your reorders based on the inventory turnover rate, reorder thresholds, and quantities you set.
When your stock is getting low on a given item, the reorder is automatically placed with no action from you, factoring in time to receive the inventory to avoid running out of stock while your replenishment is on the way, and ordering appropriate quantities to not overstock. No more embarrassing shortages that could turn away your customers! And far less cashflow gets tied up into inventory that doesn’t move quickly.
Cloud-based manufacturing inventory software provides convenience and levels the playing field
You don’t have to limit the use of your inventory software to be ran only in your warehouse. Does your software enable you to operate from anywhere in the world?
To have this, make sure your inventory software is Cloud-based, or a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution. It’s incredibly useful especially when you need to look up and compare data on the go, from home, or if you happen to be on a beach somewhere sipping a Mai Tai. Not to mention if you are running multiple warehouses in different locations, a SaaS solution that also provides multiple location management can be incredibly helpful and save hours of time. You can gain fast, efficient, and seamless ability to manage your inventory from pretty much anywhere.
Additional cloud-based manufacturing inventory management solutions benefits:
- Cost savings: no need to buy and maintain costly hardware such as a server. Cloud-based manufacturing inventory software solutions takes care of this and provides server maintenance and software updates. Plus, you don’t have to hire or pay for an in-house expert to maintain.
- Greater efficiency: it gives you real-time ability to monitor your inventory. And changes to inventory levels are reflected in real-time, whether it’s a change a team member makes to inventory levels, or a customer purchase that reduces available stock. Access is also improved, as you can obtain information outside your business premises.
- Greater coordination: different departments and teams of your business can work and coordinate more efficiently. With a cloud-based system, knowing what orders to ship, by who, from where is easy. The same goes for receiving inventory too, who needs to restock what, and where. The smoother and more efficient your inventory management is, the higher your customer satisfaction will be.
- Level the playing field: With the advancements in technology, Cloud-based manufacturing inventory management solutions, with a rich and easy to use feature sets, have become very affordable. This not only makes it easy to see an ROI on your inventory system, but it also levels the playing field for smaller manufacturers. You can compete on near equal terms with larger manufacturers. This makes it easier than ever for smaller manufacturers to grow and scale.
- More Accuracy: With a real-time SaaS solution, you gain solid reliable data on your inventory levels. This will have a direct positive impact on the bottom line. You can easily locate bottlenecks and problems and optimize your workflow. You can determine your break-even points and profit margins with ease. And you can accurately forecast and plan for growth.
Flexibility and intuitive use
Most manufacturing inventory solutions are typically designed as if one-size-fits-all. However, your business is unique, the products you manufacture are unique, and even your team managing your inventory are unique, which means your inventory management software needs to be flexible to your unique needs. You need inventory software that is easily customizable to support your unique business. To make sure your inventory management software is customizable, you’ll want to make sure your solution of choice offers control features like user permissions, the ability to assign user roles. Some of the KPIs important to your business may also be unique. Make sure your software not only has rich KPIs out of the box, but also the ability to add or customize your metrics or KPIs.
Progress Tracking capability
What happens if you have big orders to handle? What is that big orders have lots of different items? What if those different items are in different warehouses or locations? How do you manage all these moving parts efficiently and with speed? With the right manufacturing inventory management software, this becomes easy. And your inventory software should also make it easy for you to track and know if fulfilling an order is still being processed, where in the process it is, and if it’s been completed and shipped.
If you hope to grow and scale, you must be able to easily track order progress in real-time. This eases communication with your clients and helps make you’re your employees will are always on top of things .
For this and more, your software should be able to:
- Create advanced bills of material
- Create and send quick cost estimates
- Manage over-allocated resources
- Make reschedules of production orders
- Enable production runs and operations
Inventory management today, especially for manufacturers and D2C manufacturers, requires more than just knowing how inventory you have in stock at any given point in time. It requires making a host of related decisions as manufacturing becomes more complex and competitive. It has become near impossible to expand and grow if you don’t have the right software to help you know and stay on top of all these things.
As a business owner, if you try to track the hundreds or even thousands of manufacturing inventory components without modern inventory management software, you can quickly become overwhelmed and risk trailing further and further behind competitors. Taking advantage of technology advancements like cloud-based manufacturing inventory software can save you countless hours of time, help you quickly optimize operations, dramatically reduce human errors, and give you the competitive edge you need to grow and scale your business This gives you more time to focus on other critical areas for growing your business; prospecting for new customers, marketing, and advertising, researching new markets, etc.