Who should read this? People planning on implementing an inventory management software system and would like to overcome objections from future users.
Here, I list the top 3 objections you could expect from users and how I have seen companies successfully overcome them.
1. Will I lose my job? I hear this when we are doing requirements gathering, mainly speaking to the warehouse operators and administration staff inputting stock data. The reality is that most inventory management systems are put in to cut travel time, reduce stock levels and to cope with the increase in orders with the same level of staff. I estimate 90% are like this.
Where do we see people lose their jobs or be reallocated? Processes like the following 2 are sometimes removed: packing benches, where the items are put into the delivery box, and quality control where there is a double check to ensure the right products are going out. Where data is being manually input which is going to be automatically entered by scanning a barcode with the inventory management software, this manual entry is often removed from the administrators' daily tasks list.
2. How will it integrate with our existing accounting (host) system, e.g. Sage? Most companies believe their host system is so bespoke that any other system needing to talk to it will be a massive task. Reality is that an inventory management system needs very simple things in most cases. These are: products, suppliers and sales orders.
On the flip side, the host system only needs a stock figure of how many of each product there is. If you want to know things such as where a certain product is, the inventory management software will tell you. When product is despatched, this is then pushed back into the host system. In many cases just pulling sales orders from the host and then pushing them back when despatched is sufficient and 95% of the time, very simple. How many days to do this? Maximum 5 for a bespoke system, ideally with a fixed price from your inventory management system supplier.
3. Can I get my own reports like I have in my current system (often Microsoft Access when this one comes up)? The reports that many managers have from their older system are only good if they are accurate. Without an automated stock control system in place, they will not be.
So they may give him/her exactly what they need in terms of report type, but the inventory management software system will provide individual reports as well as company reports...and most importantly, they will be accurate. Being able to create your own user-friendly custom reports plus save them for future use should be expected in a modern warehouse management system.
In summary, both an inventory management system and warehouse management system are used primarily to increase competitiveness and Customer service. As a secondary focus, there is cost cutting by reducing inventory levels and making general inventory operations less expensive.