Warehouse managers are often given the unenviable task of choosing which pricy inventory management software the company should buy. If you are given this responsibility and might be looking for guidelines on choosing one then here are some of the factors that you should definitely consider.
Having a Particular Budget
Asset acquisition means budget allocation and this is no different in buying software for the business as well. Given the many concerns regarding pricing in software, it might be best for you to take more time in deciding your budget. As many flavors of software development hinge on quite contrasting structures, finding bargains and ripoffs become commonplace. The key to finding the exact budget that you need to consider how software is developed. With that in mind, you will have three options to acquire the inventory or simply a business management software for your company.
The first option is you can buy software directly off the shelf as ready-made but non-specific to your business. There can be some flexibility in off-the-shelf inventory management software as most development nowadays focus on modularity. The benefit of this option is that the software will have been tested by all their previous customers thus you will have a reference based on their experience. Additionally, in the software industry, rarely do poorly rated software gain traction as the software will likely be scrapped and remade as soon as the evaluations start to affect the sales. You have to look out for the company’s track record and try to see if they are trustworthy. Established brands from tech giants almost always deliver on the software that they sell but their reputation can translate into much higher prices compared to new players. You should still be wary, however, that despite added flexibility, there is still no replacement for software specifically designed for your business as will be discussed next.
Software development companies will offer their services based on the requirements that you have set. There are a lot of benefits when going this route but there can be some downfalls as well. The main benefit is the specialization that you can demand from them. Part of this entails exactly how you are currently running your operations in inventory. You can let them have a peek at your process and let them design one for you and plugin holes where you can have the benefit of added automation. Depending on you as the final consumer of the product that they are selling, you can choose to be more hands-on in the development or you could choose to stay back and wait for the result and deliver your critique thereafter. This decision should largely hinge on whether your vision of the future for your inventory management is clear enough. If you have a solid plan in your mind and drafted with the concurrence of concerned parties, you may choose to be heavily involved in the development process. There is no shame however in letting the development team come up with the specific requirements for you. The downfall in choosing this method is the price of specially made software. As the time and effort that they give to the project will be consumed only by you, you will have to recoup for all those expenses incurred and it could very well rise to higher values than compared to off-the-shelf software.
A third less common option is hiring a development team as part of the company. Depending on the quality of the software team that you hire, it could cost less or more than software hiring development services. The benefit for your business is obvious as support from the software team is at arm’s reach. Medium to big enterprises may choose this route if they feel that the software team will be able to benefit the company through other areas as well.
Scalability and Usability
Ease of use will be the first clamor of those who use any new software especially for those who work directly on the tasks. The time it takes for them to learn the new inventory management software as it relates to the existing process should be taken into account to make sure that there are any unnecessary delays that could cause a lot of work pending. While a complex implementation usually means more features, you have to weigh this against the availability of support from the developers.
Another issue that often pops up when buying inventory management software is scalability. A business’s inventory size is directly proportional to the size of the business. As the business grows, the inventory management software should be able to support this. This means that adding more users or the swelling of the database should not hinder the operations. To ensure the scalability of the system, always ask for it before the purchase of the product.
One of the most difficult tasks when developing software is how to integrate it with an existing one. As most systems nowadays already employ process automation of some sort, the portability of the software that you have bought or had made should be one of the main considerations. Having to do an inventory to accommodate a new software is quite the effort but it would be much worse to lose valuable information due to an interface mismatch between the old software and the new one.
Inventory management software acquisition often boils to requirements. The consumer should identify which processes he/she prefers to be automated and in what way. For instance, consider how you are currently labeling inventory items and how it would fit if automated. You could have a barcode system in place, thus the inventory management software should be able to run a barcode scanner out of the box. Another question that you have to ask is how you are intending to track purchases for inventory. Many delivery services offer online tracking and you could choose to tap into it and add it as a feature on the inventory management software.
However you choose your inventory management software, you should always put in mind how it will fit with your business.