Save yourself the stocktake blues: getting flexible in your warehouse
How does your business handle inventory control? Having a detailed view of your warehouse lets you treat it with more flexibility - saving you countless headaches from stocktakes.
We’re aware of the challenges that warehouse managers face when it comes to inventory control. In fact, it has such negative connotations now, that anyone heard to be doing stocktake gets a standard “I’m so sorry. That’s awful!” as a response.
This perception is based on fact – stocktake has been a rigid, soul-destroying process for many businesses, and its regularity makes it a time-consuming, inefficient, and uncontrolled process.
However, when you put the foundational elements of an inventory control process in place, you’ll have various options available to you. Having 100 000’s of units to count every stocktake is a big challenge, when in reality might only want to count a few relevant and important items, so you need the flexibility to do this. Your warehouse management software (WMS) should help you to remain flexible - so that you can keep track of inventory on an ongoing daily basis. This way you won’t need to shut down your business for stock takes and reach the holy grail of the audit team approving perpetual cycle counts.
Improving your inventory control flexibility in six simple steps:
1. Align your inventory control goals with your overall business goals
To begin, your objectives must align throughout your business. If your supply chain is out of the loop, you won’t have the reinforcement or support from the warehouse while you drive your business.
With a solid understanding of the business goals as a base, the implementation of a flexible warehouse solution will help to drive objectives and can be readjusted at any time, without the rigmarole of ongoing crises.
2. Identify your operational requirements prior to deciding on your warehouse approach
What do you need to deliver within the business vs. outside of the business? Operations require the support of the warehouse processes to work efficiently, and with your business goals in mind, it is critical to consider operational demands before you implement a warehouse management system that doesn’t support them.
This ensures that when it comes to the nitty-gritty, your business is aligned with an efficient model, and the stock-take and audit process mean something to everyone – not just the employees checking boxes.
3. Use your WMS to help you plan, review, and optimise continually
Your WMS gives you the tools to plan your warehouse operations, review data on a real-time basis, and assess your performance and efficiency based on current stats.
Once you’ve considered your operational demands, you can implement a system that satisfies these, and then begin the process of planning, analysing, and optimising your actual warehouse practices.
Doing this gives you a full view of the warehouse so that when it comes to stock-take, there are fewer surprises and more accurate insights.
4. Create customer order profiles
Profiles are a key component of any WMS worth its salt. To track, plan, analyse, and forecast demand schedules, customer-specific data and trends can help you to get the right stock, at the right time, for the right people.
This smooths your inventory stock issues but also allows you to do stock take that is in-depth, customer-specific, and realistically helpful to your business.
5. Get your team on board
Hire passionate people who share your vision, and ensure they are aligned with your brand and enthusiastically live your values.
"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein
While we always look for efficient workers, it is critical to remember that the efficiency and innovation you need to get through monthly reporting and deliverables will likely come from people who truly believe in your business, and back your vision and goals.
Even with excellent warehouse management software, you can only get as far as the people operating it will go. Try to engage your workforce in a positive and forward-looking manner, and get them on board with a simpler, more flexible way of doing things.
Effective communication is a crucial element to the success of your supply chain, but somehow it’s an area that’s often neglected. If you’re experiencing a loss of profit and productivity due to breakdowns in communication, here’s how you can bridge the gaps.
6. Don’t over-automate before you’re ready
Automation of your warehouse data and tracking is an exciting process, and the time, energy, and staff savings are hard to resist. However, it’s important to ensure that you have these items checked off the list before you jump the gun and automate bad processes:
- Have you ensured that your data is clean and correct? Automating for bad data is a way to guarantee a stocktake nightmare before you even start.
- Have you educated your employees on the software and how to use it? Automation is great, but understanding it is better.
- Is your strategy for automation in line with your overall operational and business goals? Your WMS needs to be able to deliver the results you need in order to meet your overall business goals.
- Have you considered the minor details that may trip you up when it comes to the stocktake and audit process? Every business is different, so you need to implement solutions that work in your specific environment and situations.
- Have you consulted with the implementation experts to ensure a smooth transition from one system to the next? Getting the transition done smoothly is critical, so that you don’t hamper your business operations during the changeover.
Is your warehouse following industry best practices? Download our handy benchmarking checklist to help you optimise your warehouse.