Managing inventory data is key to having a successful warehouse management strategy. Having an accurate tabulation of your inventory is critical to avoiding errors. Yet it is surprising to note that while this is almost self-evident, many businesses continue to use spreadsheets as their main strategy for tracking inventory and warehouse operations. In fact, according to Zippia, as of 2022, 43% of small businesses do not track their inventory at all. While State of Small Business Report stated that 46% of SMB’s with 11-500 employees are either not tracking stock at all or else are using manual processes to do so through spreadsheets.
Spreadsheets are useful tools. They help to put information or lists of data together and are a flexible way to help you in your daily work. They’re also useful on a small or individual scale for being able to edit or input information into without affecting information held within a larger database that is used as the single source of truth.
Yet spreadsheets have limitations when it comes to the ongoing management of data critical to your inventory and warehouse. For example, an Excel spreadsheet is based on a standard row and column layout. These rows and columns are good for a simple data structure, but do not have the ability to scale up. Nor does it efficiently allow information to be related to another set of information or data. As your inventory requirements scale up, you’ll inevitably need separate spreadsheets to manage everything, which can prove cumbersome. Whether its daily stock level changes, new inventory entering the warehouse, or shipments leaving the warehouse, all this data must be managed and manually tracked and gathered if done through spreadsheets.
This brings us to the next pitfall of spreadsheets, accuracy. No matter how hard we try, no matter how many checks and balances we employ, humans are unfortunately imperfect. Because of this, spreadsheets invariably are a poor way to create a single source of truth when it comes to inventory and warehouse management. Records can be easily overwritten, deleted or input incorrectly. This can be especially true when multiple people are accessing and inputting data into the same file.
Spreadsheets also lack real-time tracking. Think of all the steps, transactions, interactions, processes, numbers and so on that happen every day that are associated with your inventory. It would surprise many. These data points need to be tracked. Yet to track them (if they are tracked at all) and then load them into your spreadsheets takes a minuteness to detail that can be hard to achieve manually. If this information is successfully tracked there is often a delay from gathering it all to inputting it into a spreadsheet. Which means people that rely on the information to do their jobs often are working with outdated information. This can create a significant detachment between departments and cause unwanted consequences.
As we can see, spreadsheets may in fact be holding you back and may not be the most efficient way to manage your inventory. So, what strategy can be used to better manage inventory and the warehouse?
A warehouse management system (WMS) designed for a cloud-based environment can be an effective choice. A WMS allows you to gather and track inventory information in real-time. As warehouse processes and work are effectuated in relation to the inventory, these can be tracked instantaneously and are updated within the system in real-time. This has three immediate benefits. First, errors are eliminated as the WMS takes care of the tabulation of the data inputs. Second, a single source of truth is established which has a historical record. And third, the information is continuously up to date.
Unlike spreadsheets, a WMS can also be integrated with your CRM. This is a proven strategy as it has the added benefit of creating relationships between your customer information, sales channels, and other core business structures like your accounting software. These integrated systems and data relationships provide greater in-depth analysis of your inventory and warehouse operations, from which insights can be ascertained through reports.
A WMS allows your team easy accessibility to the data and to share it with whomever you like. Furthermore, you know that your inventory data is completely secured by the system through a redundancy of backups, thus protecting your business from ever losing data.
Is it time to ditch your spreadsheets? As mentioned earlier, spreadsheets are a useful tool just not for ongoing business management like inventory. Inventory and warehouse management software is much more efficient, secure, and accurate when it comes to your inventory management. It gathers the data points associated with your inventory and warehouse in an efficient manner, while removing the uncertainty of human errors. What’s more is that your processes and the underlying configurations make it so that you don’t have to worry about your inventory data being collected incorrectly.
So, ditch the spreadsheets and upgrade to a WMS and you’ll find that managing your inventory and warehouse becomes both efficient and easy. Your business will thank you for it.
If you would like to move away from spreadsheets and start using a WMS to track and manage your inventory effectively, get in contact with us by using the link below and start transforming your inventory today!