However big or small your business is, if you own a stockroom or warehouse where you keep your goods, then you are going to need an inventory management software. The danger of sticking with the old ways like through a spreadsheet application, or worse, using pen and paper can produce inaccuracies, discrepancies and ultimately, losses. Not to mention, that the severity of the task at hand and trying to do it manually can be a blow to your sanity and drive you crazy in the long run. If you are planning to integrate an automated inventory management software to your business, which you really should, you have to look out for some important factors that you should definitely consider before buying one.
What does your inventory system need? You should have a thorough understanding of this before picking out the inventory management software for you. A good way to come up with the exact requirements that you need is to lay out all the problems that you are encountering and trying to find a fix for each one using the software that you intend to buy. Would you like to have real-time coverage on the status of your products? Would you rather go a simpler route and just check if you have enough supply from time to time? Or do you prefer an inventory management software with advanced analytics and computations that will help you decide on how and when to reorder. Having your requirements on the table once your start picking the inventory management software is the first and most crucial step.
Inventory management software costs vary widely. This is because of the different costs of producing the software and the market it is sold to. Usually depending on the requirements that you set, the cost will depend on the how many and how complicated are the features that your software will be employing. Here are some of the factors that would contribute to the eventual price of the inventory management software.
- Features – As has already been mentioned, this is probably the biggest contributor in the overall price of the resulting software. These features will need to be integrated with each other, thus adding features can exponentially increase the cost. For instance, adding a security feature to encrypt all incoming and outgoing communications will affect all features thus multiplying the work to be done depending on how big the inventory management software is.
- Market – Software can be sold off the shelf, but can also be sold specifically for you. As you might have guessed, once a product is sold to a mass audience, this can generally drive the price down. Should the selling of the product be exclusive for you however, will limit the profitability of the product and will put the burden solely on you.
- Integration – The best time to buy any form of business process software is when you are still starting out on your venture. A clean slate means less integration work for the software company and thus less costs. If you already have a working automated system, it could be easier to integrate it but would depend on how compatible both software systems are. The worst case scenario is trying to migrate data from a manual environment to a fully automated one. Imagine having to type every information from pen and paper into the computer.
Depending on the type of business that you are running, you might need to customize your inventory management software. For example, if you are running manufacturing where it is important to track both the raw materials and the finished goods, you will need software that is able to analyze this flow. This is different than, for instance, software for a drug store where the biggest concern is knowing when the drugs are going to expire and how the products should be stored.
Software that is heavily customized will limit the market that it can be sold to. For this reason, and the extra effort that it takes to create the custom software can usually drive up the price. As an alternative, if your business is big enough, you can choose to hire developers to customize a product for you which could cut the costs and have the team ready to train the staff at your pleasure.
This is an important factor that is often overlooked by the developers themselves. When the product is being demoed to you and the staff, you should take note of the reactions from the meeting. Ask them individually, if you have to, to know exactly how they would feel using the product in every working day. In a manager’s standpoint, you have to look intently at the reports that the software can create. Are they easily understood, readable and contains all the information that you think you would need?
At some point, any growing business would have to think about scaling for the future. Should your company be successful in doing so, it could come as an unpleasant surprise if your inventory management software fails to grow along with you. The cost of having to buy another inventory management software should not be a concern you have to deal with. Before buying the software, make sure that it is flexible enough to house information should the data be too large for its initial purpose.
Training and Support:
After buying any software, it is quite rare for the product to go up and running and doing what it is intended to do as smoothly as you wanted it to. Hence the need for continued support from the developers of the inventory management software. There are several aspects of support that you would want to demand from your supplier. First there should be complete documentation on how you are going to use the applications. Second, they should conduct training for you and your staff before releasing the software in your care. And finally, you have to be able to call them any time that you need any further support.