Long gone are the days when the term manufacturing was reserved for businesses that could afford humongous buildings, complex machines, and hundreds upon hundreds of people working alongside each other. The name of the game now is for small businesses to continue to scale as time passes by.
Of course, that sounds easier said than done. You start with small amounts of the products you produce so it’s easier to keep track of these and your growth even with simple excel spreadsheets or the pen and paper method. But as you progress and as your business grows, you will learn that you will need a more robust and easy-to-manage system that will keep your inventory levels at an optimal rate.
Having manufacturing inventory software will definitely make your job easier as it will aid you in maintaining adequate stock, optimize your warehouse space, reduce excess goods, project customer orders, and improve profitability among others.
So you’ll search for manufacturing inventory software online. And you’ll quickly realize that there are numerous choices right in front of you. You’ll wonder what the best plan of action is for your small company.
You might be tempted to take the first option you’ll set your sights on, but with your business’ growth on the line, it’s important that you set aside some time to truly dive deep and weigh the pros and cons of the software available to you.
Here are five manufacturing inventory software features you will need to look out for if you want to perfectly manage your inventory and consequently, scale-up your business.
1. Outstanding Inventory Control and Projection Management
This might sound like a no-brainer, but the most important feature you will have to assess looking for manufacturing inventory software is its ability to assist you in both managing and controlling your inventory. It’s easy to overlook, especially when your budget is at the top of your mind, but having a focused system will steer you away from any costly inventory mishaps in the future.
One of the main problems you might encounter when doing tasks such as fulfilling sale orders and scheduling production is the need to keep checking inventory. That might mean going through spreadsheets or physically having to check the stock room for what’s available. With a manufacturing inventory software that gives you a product availability report in real-time, you wouldn’t have to go through all of that.
Look for manufacturing inventory software that smart automated reordering as this will aid you in foreseeing when your inventory will hit low, prompting a reorder before you’re out of resources on hand. This feature will also help you determine which items are not moving out quickly enough, allowing you to prevent over-ordering.
Both of these features can also give you valuable insights on whether or not you should discontinue a certain product.
2. Easy Setup and System Flexibility
Each business is unique in its own way. Unfortunately, you will see a handful of manufacturing inventory software available in the market that are designed as if every company is the same as the one before.
For manufacturing inventory software to grow with your business, it has to be flexible in a way that will accommodate the needs of you and your team. Hence, it’s imperative to look for software that can be customized and configured according to the products you manufacture.
Flexibility may come in being able to assign users for specific functionalities and setting your company-specific metrics and KPIs.
It will also be much less of a hassle on your part if the software you will integrate within your system is easy to setup.
3. Reorder Automation
Think of manufacturing inventory software not just as another system to add to company expenses, but as a tool that will help you make fewer and fewer mistakes in due time.
Manufacturing inventory software that will help with your product reordering can oversee when your stocks are getting low. It’s mortifying to end up having to apologize to customers for shortages that they can be severely turned off by.
Automating your reordering can save you from ever having to deal with that as you’ll always have an ample number of items and products–nothing running out of stock and nothing overstocking. Having manufacturing inventory software that is equipped with reorder automation allows you to take control of your reorders based on the quantities you set, reorder thresholds, and inventory turnover rate.
4. Capability to Track Progress
Knowing when an order has been completed or not isn’t enough when you are planning to scale your small business. A good manufacturing inventory software makes things easier for you–including tracking and knowing if an order is still in the process of being fulfilled, where it is in the entire process, and if it has been shipped and completed.
To attract and retain clients, tracking order progress in real-time should be a breeze. It shouldn’t have hitches or any of that sort so that you and your employees are aware of the development of every order. This also ensures effective communication with your clients. To always have an eye on the progress of a job, you’ll need to look for manufacturing inventory software that will manage overallocated resources, make reschedules of production orders, production runs, and operations, manage and create advanced bills of materials, estimate costs and send them in real-time, among many others.
As much as possible, look for software that is cloud-based. When your manufacturing inventory software is cloud-based or a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution, you can take your inventory everywhere–which only means you can operate whenever, wherever you desire.
One of the best advantages of this feature is that you can save time and pull up your data seamlessly even while you’re on the go. This is especially useful if you are running multiple warehouses based in different locations.
Cloud-based technology levels the playing field in which you are in. You’re up against the big guys, but with this kind of system, you wouldn’t have to spend thousands of dollars just to prove something. Cloud-based systems make it easier for you to scale. And as you grow, this system will only keep growing with you.
Other than that, having manufacturing software that is cloud-based saves you a lot of money against buying servers and employing IT personnel that can cost you quite a bit. This kind of solution has software updates and server maintenance so you wouldn’t have to call an expert every now and then.
Furthermore, a cloud-based system enhances the productivity of your workforce as the various departments and teams in your business can coordinate more smoothly and effectively. They wouldn’t have to keep asking each other what orders to ship, who will order it, from where will it come from, who needs to restock what and where. All of these questions are answered by the system for them.
If you’re a small business owner or a Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) brand, scaling-up isn’t an impossible feat. In fact, it’s more doable now than ever with the right manufacturing inventory software. You wouldn’t have to make spot problems and bottlenecks on your own anymore, you wouldn’t have to keep fixing human errors, and you wouldn’t have to think that you don’t have a competitive edge against the bigger businesses around you.
With the right manufacturing inventory software, your workflow is optimized, your products are organized, and you can focus on other things to keep your business going.