Keeping up with your inventory can be a full-time job by itself. But running a business involves more than just placing orders, receiving products and shipping items to customers. That’s why it’s so important to figure out how to manage your inventory effectively.
You don’t want to monopolize your time working on just one aspect of your business when you could be spending your time more effectively. I’m going to share four ways you can manage your inventory, so you can decide which one will work best for your organization:
When you manage your inventory manually, keep in mind that you won’t have any manual to guide you. That’s my little play on words for the day. But seriously, managing inventory on paper is far from a simple task. When they are first starting out, many entrepreneurs keep track of their products by writing everything down on notepads, Post-It Notes, and other scraps of paper. This kind of inventory control system can’t last long because sooner or later an important record will get lost and you’ll realize you need something better.
2. Excel Spreadsheets
Using Excel spreadsheets is a step up from using pen and paper. Most businesspeople are familiar with the Microsoft Office suite, so it seems like a no-brainer to use Excel to manage inventory. After all, spreadsheets are designed to organize data by numeric values, dates, names and more.
However, Excel isn’t meant specifically for inventory management, so it requires some setup and tweaking to make it work. In addition, you constantly have to update it by hand. Whenever you place an order, sell a product or transfer an item from one location to another, you’ll have to enter it into Excel or else your inventory records will quickly get out of date.
QuickBooks is the most popular accounting software for U.S. small businesses. In addition to accounting tasks, QuickBooks also offers some inventory management tools. QuickBooks Enterprise 2012 has an Inventory Center that allows you to perform a number of tasks, including:
- Track a variety of parts and service items
- Monitor inventory levels
- Reorder products
- Generate bills of materials and sales orders
- Use different units of measure
- Track shipments
4. Inventory Software
While QuickBooks offers many inventory management features, they do not always adequately meet businesses’ needs. In some cases, business owners are better off going with a software solution that is completely focused on inventory control, but that still integrates with QuickBooks. There are many asset inventory management solutions, but in general they offer more functionality than QuickBooks. In addition to the above features, some advanced features include:
- Print and scan barcodes
- Use more part-tracking options
- Create transfer orders
- Monitor multiple warehouses
About the Author
Robert Lockard is a copywriter for Fishbowl, maker of the #1 inventory management software for QuickBooks, Fishbowl Inventory. Robert has written hundreds of blog posts, dozens of magazine articles, and much more. He enjoys watching bad movies (he loves MST3K), reading good books, and running great distances. He lives in Orem, Utah with his wife and two children.