Go Live with the Barcode Inventory System
OK, the hard part is over. Honestly. All that’s left is to make sure your inventory system quantities remain accurate. This is strictly a function of work practices. Work Practices are defined as “ways of structuring things a worker must do, or ways in which something is done”. Although the work practices for your new inventory system are fairly simple, they must be adhered to in order for the data to remain valuable over time. Here are some guidelines:
- Never add, move or remove anything from inventory without first recording the transaction with either the portable barcode scanner or the desktop software. If you don’t use the system to record all transactions, two things will happen. First, the inventory data you have won’t be accurate for accounting practices. And, because the inventory data is inaccurate, the system won’t give you accurate re-order, usage or quantity reports. This part is critical. Failure to implement work practices where you log all inventory transactions will completely invalidate all your work!
- Everything must have a readable barcode label. Over time, you will introduce new items into the inventory and eliminate others. Your shelving locations may change or you may add more. The power of the system is the ability to quickly and efficiently log inventory movements. Make sure that all your products have valid barcode labels. Make sure all your location labels are readable.
NOTE: You can key in the data from a missing or damaged barcode using the keypad on the barcode scanner, but you’ll stand the chance of making more errors using this method. Click here to see data on barcode accuracy versus keyed entry.
- Designate a responsible person or group. In order for the inventory system to work, you have to make sure that the folks responsible for the inventory have the commitment and authority to make sure that the inventory work practices are followed. This doesn’t necessarily mean the times that you do a full inventory, but when you receive, put away, move and pull out items and materials. Remember, the inventory will only be as accurate as the diligence you put into administering it.
- Audit the inventory system data. Over time, mistakes and omissions will be made in entering the inventory transaction data. Use the “cycle-count” option in your inventory system to spot-check the accuracy of random item quantities. This will let you measure the effectiveness of your work practices.
- Run and analyze reports often. Obviously, using the re-order report will help you to make sure that you always have the materials you’ll need on-hand. Consider harnessing the full power of your inventory database. Look at item usage over time, and make sure you’re not carrying more inventory of low-use items than you really need. Eliminate inventory that you’ll never use. Analyze the fast-moving items and project your needs for the rest of the year, and use that data for basis of negotiating with your vendors. If you think about it, the database can tell you the story of your inventory. You only have to take the time and ask the questions.
NOTE: Most inventory systems have an option to design customized reports. This option gives you the ability to query the database and generate reports on just about anything having to do with inventory transactions.
- Be open to worker’s suggestions on making the system more efficient. Since the folks logging the inventory transactions are the ones that will make the system accurate (and therefore a success), be open to their suggestions. Most of the time they’ll want to make the work practices more efficient so they can get through their day quicker and with less mindless work. Sometimes they’ll make suggestions that will save your company “big money”. Be open to what they’re telling you. Try to be responsive and implement suggestions where ever possible.
That’s it. If you used this white paper as a guide while going through your implementation – Congratulations! If you’re using this to prepare, good luck. In either case, if you have any questions, just give us a call and we’ll help you any way that we can.