When most people think of inventory management software, they think of retail applications. But the software is used in a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, education, and government. Inventory management software is bigger and better than you think.
So for this article, let’s look at what inventory management software is and then its features and benefits.
What is inventory management software?
Inventory management software is a tool that allows you to track, manage, and control your facility's inventory and assets at any time and from anywhere. Inventory management software streamlines and centralizes the process of controlling the flow and maintenance of inventory to ensure that the right amount of inventory is available at the right time and at the right cost. It is a tool for organizing inventory data that before was generally stored in hard copies or in spreadsheets.
Inventory management software features
Inventory management software centralizes your most basic and necessary warehouse functions. With it, your organization is able to see complete inventory details like stock levels, product history, and other product specifications. This data, when synced with all other parts of your system, helps all your departments run on the same information. For example, once the accounting department can see the stock levels, they can better plan and budget. Working with the same information that’s in the same format ensures collaboration between your teams to a much higher degree than if they were to work with individual systems, which leads to inevitable data silos.
Inventory tracking is important at every stage. A computerized maintenance management system allows you to track your inventory by serial numbers, RFID tags, and barcodes. These tools make it easy to quickly process inventory data when inventory first makes its way into your warehouse. They also provide an audit of all inventory movement. This is especially important for industries that deal with perishables. If the inventory is perishable, it has a defined date of usage and business owners need to pay closer attention to inventory demand cycles than business owners who deal with non-perishable items. Tracking, for example, eggs at an industrial bakery is different than tracking pallets of rebar.
Inventory alerts, also referred to as stock alerts, notifies your organization when there has been a significant change in inventory levels. Many businesses leverage low-stock alerts, but there are other types as well, including alerts for:
- New shipments
Managers can subscribe to this alert to stay informed about shipments that have to be managed.
- Inventory reorder point
Managers can set up low-inventory alerts to keep tabs on their inventory. A low-stock alert is the threshold when you should reorder more of an inventory item.
Which alert is best for you will depend on the nature of your maintenance operations. For example, Hippo’s CMMS inventory management software module has a stock alert feature that typically sends a notification to an individual or a group of individuals when an item reaches its minimum quantity.
Reporting and analytics
Reporting and analytics are excellent tools to have on hand as you grow your business. Analytics tools evaluate patterns in your processes and so can be used to forecast future demand, and predicting demand is a way to reduce safety stock and carrying costs. Keeping inventory around simply for safety’s sake is no longer necessary when you have insight into how much you’ll really need. You can also use this data to prevent stock-outs, which can result in missed opportunities for maintenance. Reporting takes raw data and delivers insights that are easy to understand and share.
Inventory management software benefits
Managed inventory levels
Overstock can sap your organization’s resources by spending money to carry inventory that you aren’t using. Stock-outs can result in imbalanced maintenance activities. You’re not closing out PMs at the right times because you don’t have the right parts and materials on hand. To fix this, inventory managers can refer to CMMS data to make sure they know where the inventory levels are and then have the parts and materials ready when they need them.
Inventory management software tracks data over time, making the facility and maintenance operations more efficient. With proper inventory management devices like barcode scanners, your organization can drastically improve its efficiency and productivity. These devices help eliminate manual processes so your employees can focus on more important work. For example, it’s a lot more cost effective to have technicians working on maintenance instead of wasting time searching for spare parts or manually tracking how much of this or that material they used.
Easy location transfer
Inventory management software enables organizations to track their inventory as it gets moved to different sites and facilitates. Unlike a spreadsheet system, good inventory management software relies on a central database accessible from any Internet-connected desktop or mobile device. CMMS software use real-time inventory tracking to record all inventory items (parts and other materials) and help users to always know where things are.
Reduced equipment downtime
Inventory management system tracks key information on spare parts used to maintain and repair equipment. By determining the reorder point for each spare part based on its price, criticality, lead time for delivery, and usage level, a good CMMS can help you figure out the sweet spot where there is always enough spares for your organization’s needs by determining the reorder point and reorder quantity. For example, if you use one part per week and it takes four weeks for the replenishment stock to arrive, then you need four of those parts in inventory at any given time.
Now that you know the benefits of great inventory management software, it’s time to see how you can achieve them. Determining the right inventory management solution for your facility requires assessing your needs today as well as your plans for future growth. As your company grows, can your inventory system scale along with it? As your business evolves, does your current system offer the flexibility you’ll need to manage change?
Remember, part of the decision-making process should involve speaking with your current CMMS provider. Not only are they subject area experts, but they'll be able to tell you how best to use their software. If you don’t have a CMMS yet, now’s the time to get one. Start reaching out to providers. Once they have an idea of your needs, they’ll be able to talk with you about solutions.