Inventory Management Tips to Always Have What You Need
The Ins & Outs of Inventory
Managing inventory can be tricky... but how you do it is important.
After all, inventory supplies can comprise anywhere from four to nine percent of your operational budget. Our data points to that importance, showing that the average facility has:*
17.4 issued transactions per square foot
$16,956 issued inventory per square foot
$12,869 of in-stock inventory per square foot
What is inventory management?
Inventory management involves tracking and managing inventory to ensure you have the supplies you need, when you need them.
Having a solid inventory management system helps you better understand what you have in stock, what you need and when. This is critical to running an efficient operation.
We know that you spend a good amount of time, money and planning on inventory management, so we’ve come up with five tactics to help you simplify your inventory management process and give you more control over it all.
How do you manage inventory effectively?
To effectively manage inventory, follow the following tips which can be used as a checklist:
- Get organized
- Label your inventory clearly
- Start a system for storing parts
- Eliminate stale inventory
- Document inventory details
- Move your paper documentation to digital
- Get an accurate count of items
- Record details for each item
- Setup inventory pools
- Create minimum and maximum points for items
- Automate recording based on set limits
- Include item details from vendors
- Use barcoding
- Set up inventory barcoding in your CMMS
- Label items
- Use inventory management tools
- Train team on using barcoding and tracking in your CMMS
- Connect assets inventory to work orders
1. Get organized
If your warehouse or inventory processes are in disarray, it will only create confusion and may even be costing you in unnecessary inventory fees, last-minute orders and deliveries, etc.
As with any part of your operations, organization is critical. Especially for inventory, you want to be in a place where you can see, understand and use your inventory efficiently.
This may start with reworking how you store items. Implement a system for storing parts and pieces to use your storage room effectively. While you’re doing that, pull out stale inventory and either use it or get rid of it. Make a plan to keep your inventory spaces clean and organized so that things are easier to find for you and your entire team.
You’ll be able to do this easier by using our next tip!
2. Document inventory details
It may not sound like fun, but documentation is very important to your inventory – and it’s easier than ever with today’s technology.
As you’re organizing your inventory, put it all on paper... or better yet, in a digital system like a CMMS (computerized maintenance management system). Many of these systems offers specific tools for documenting and tracking inventory to minimize the administrative work needed to keep it up to date.
You should have an accurate count and specific details for each item in your inventory. When you have a digital inventory, you can easily adjust those details (like make, model, warranty information, etc.) to make sure they’re always right. There’s nothing worse than a technician or engineer going to work on a piece of equipment and not having or being able to find the part they need. That can lead to your work order being open for longer than needed, exorbitant express shipping rates to get that one part and time wasted waiting for it to arrive. Not to mention whatever downtime when you can’t use that specific piece of equipment.
When your inventory is documented and updated, you’ll have the information you need at your fingertips (hello, mobile CMMS) to stay informed about your inventory use and needs.
3. Set up pools
To better organize and utilize your inventory, you may want to set up inventory pools to group locations or types of tools or parts together. This can help you streamline your stock area more intuitively and allow for the pieces your team needs to be close in proximity.
While you’re doing that, you should also consider setting up minimum and maximum or high and low levels for your inventory items. This can be set up in your CMMS to help keep up with when you’re low or high on a specific item. You can even automate reordering when a part goes below a set threshold to make sure you’re never out of what you need.
You can also request inventory details from vendors to make data entry that much easier. The more details you can include, the more data you can gather to inform your inventory and operations processes. Imagine having the data to show how often you need to replace a certain part or what piece of equipment you should repair first to make the biggest impact.
4. Use barcoding
Speaking of data entry, digital barcoding is a great way to simplify entering data and organizing your inventory. Instead of using an internal system of numbers or letters to categorize an inventory item, barcoding is a fast and easy way to keep everything labeled and organized, while reducing room for error.
How this works is that your CMMS generates barcodes based on the item details that you can then print out as a label and stick on the actual item. Then, when someone goes to use that item, they can simply scan it with their mobile device and pull up the relevant details instantly.
No one wants to spend hours categorizing and writing down each and every inventory item, and barcoding helps simplify that step.
5. Connect inventory to everyday work
Now you can start treating your inventory like a living thing. It grows, it shrinks and you get smarter as you learn from the data and changes you see from month to month and year to year. When you’re ready to move from using Excel for inventory management and start using smart tools, your inventory is no longer a static entity that’s more or less out of your control. You can now start anticipating the needs you will have.
When your inventory is documented in your CMMS, you can connect your asset inventory and other items to everyday work orders to make your work easier.
Scan a barcode to pull up the most recent work on a piece of equipment or search your active inventory to see the exact location of the part you need. This gets even speedier when you can do it on a mobile device.
Inventory-specific tools save you and your team time and money when it comes to tracking, documenting and using your inventory, whether those are assets, parts or even IT equipment.
Of clients using our inventory management software, they have a total of*:
2.7 million inventory issued transactions
23,598 categories of inventory
404,556 locations of inventory stored
1.4 million inventory items in stock
If we can find that data in our system with a click of a button, image what you’ll discover in your inventory data to help you operate smarter!
Schedule a demo to see our inventory management software in action.
*Data pulled from Inventory clients in Data Intelligence