Finding the right inventory management system can be a daunting task. There are a variety of options out there, which can make it hard to find the perfect fit for you.
So where do you start? Here are five steps that can help you find the right system:
Have a budget
Firstly, you need to decide on a budget. It will be almost impossible to find the right fit if you don’t know your price range. A defined budget will narrow your search, saving you the time and effort it would take to consider systems outside your budget range. Inventory management systems can range in price from free to upwards of $100,000. As a result, there are many options in terms quality, capabilities, and scalability. Not knowing what your price range is will greatly limit your ability to find the right fit.
Here is a chart to give you a quick rundown of price ranges and implementation times:
|Type||Implementation Fee||Monthly Fee||Implementation Time|
|Small Office Market||Free-$5||None||None|
|Lower Market Software||None||$30-$150||None|
|Mid Market Software||$300-$5,000||$150-$500||None – 2 months|
|Upper Market Software||$5,000-$15,000||$500-$1000||2 weeks- 6 months|
|Enterprise Software||$150,000-$750,000||$1000 +||6 months- 2 years|
Know your inventory challenges
Just as there is a wide range of prices, there is a breadth of system capabilities and functionality. Make sure you know your inventory processes and what challenges you face with your current workflow. This information will make it easy for inventory management professionals to recommend solutions that can solve your inventory challenges.
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Know what integrations you need
Is your firm using CRM, accounting, ERP, or other software? The inventory system you choose should be able to integrate with the other systems you already have. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to manually enter data. Depending how many data points you have – like items, locations, and orders – this can take up a lot of time. You will also be risking data loss and causing data update delays. Choosing a system that can seamlessly integrate will greatly improve efficiency and visibility.
Determine how you want to track items in the system
There are many different ways to track inventory, so it’s important to know what method you will be using. You can track stock using barcodes, serialization, RFID tags, lot control, and kitting. Not only are there many methods, but some will work better with particular inventory processes. This is why you should decide on a method before you start your search for an inventory system. Not all systems have the capability to use all tracking, especially in the mid to small office markets. Forcing your inventory processes to fit a system can be problematic and costly. To avoid this, define which tracking method will work best before you start your search.
Depending on your choice, you may need to purchase the hardware and scanners. You want to make sure the scanners you choose are usable with your system. If you select your scanners after your system, they may not be compatible. Or, the scanners that are compatibe may not be suitable for your needs. As you can see, it is important to make these decisions before you start your search.
Find out how many users will be accessing the system, where they located, and who they are
When you conduct your search, it’s good to know how many users you need. The price structures of many inventory management systems have additional costs for extra users. Knowing your user needs will be useful when you view pricing info or contact the company for a quote. Knowing the number of users, it will be easier to estimate the cost. In addition, knowing who is using the system and where they are located will help determine how your inventory system will be set-up. For instance, you could have suppliers, customers, or management using your inventory system. These users could be located on different parts of the country or in different parts of the world.
In short, ensuring that you are within budget guidelines, are aware of inventory challenges, know what data integration is necessary, determine a tracking method and understand which users will be using the system will all help to choose an inventory management system that best suits your company.