The Initial Barcode Inventory!
I Have the Software, Everything’s barcoded – Now what do I do?:
Assuming you’ve been following this inventory guide, lets recap what you’ve done so far:
- Generated an Item Master List in Microsoft Excel to include at least item numbers and descriptions.
- Put barcodes on existing inventory, making sure that the item numbers on the barcodes from suppliers match those on the Item Master List
- Put barcodes on all the locations in the warehouse or stockroom.
- Selected inventory software and a portable barcode scanner.
- Imported the Item Master List into the desktop PC inventory software you selected in step 4 above.
Congratulations. The difficult part is over! There are only 2 steps left:
- Complete the initial inventory – Now you have to scan all the items and locations for the materials that you have in inventory. This part is fairly disruptive to the normal operation of the business (that’s why you see businesses closed for inventory), but you can do it effectively if you follow these guidelines:
- Make sure you have enough staff and scanners. As a rule of thumb, one operator can inventory 30 bin locations per hour if there is only one item in each bin location. If your locations have multiple unique item numbers in them, assume that they can scan 80 unique item numbers per hour. NOTE: These estimates should be conservative, but it’s important to make sure you hit the initial inventory hard and get it done quickly and completely. You’ll want to minimize business interruptions.
- Have a plan. Do the inventory systematically, from one end of the warehouse to the other. Try to complete entire sections at one time. Mark the locations with a “flag” like a post-it note or a red dot sticker to indicate when the inventory of that bin location is complete. If you don’t think you can shut down the warehouse for the amount of time it will take to complete the inventory, consider pulling the inventory required for your business to run while the inventory is being completed. Put these materials in a special place, and have a manual list of what’s there. That way, your employees can pull from that stock to do their jobs while you’re completing the inventory. At the end, you’ll count the materials left in that area, key in the item numbers and original quantities, then remove the quantities of each that was used while the inventory was taking place.
- Reconcile the inventory against the accounting balances that you’re showing for the inventory. Most of the time, the difference between the accounting inventory and the actual inventory will be substantial. Planning to do this validation before you go live with your inventory process will give you the opportunity to spot-check any glaring discrepancies between the two.
If you've followed along so far, you're now ready to "go live" with your barcode inventory system.