Inventory Management Software – Key Terms and How They Help Your Business

 If you have used or researched inventory management software, surely you’ve come across a wide range of buzzwords that detail the areas of the software that can help your business manage inventory better. Sometimes those who use such buzzwords forget that not everybody is knee-deep in inventory management on a daily basis, and they might need a better explanation. Here are some key inventory management terms, and a brief explanation of how they help you and your business. While some of the terms may be familiar, their definition in relation to inventory management software is more specific to that application.

ABC Analysis

This analysis shows which of your inventory items are responsible for the majority of your Cost of Goods Sold (“COGS”) based on the 80/20 rule: 80% of inventory sales come from 20% of your items. This analysis can help control your inventory, increasing the items you need in stock, and reducing the items you don’t need. This in turn, can increase your capital, since less money is tied up in inventory.

Assemblies

Assemblies are a set of component parts that make up an inventory item. By setting up items as assemblies in a software system, removing the components from inventory becomes easier, and costing of an item can also be automated within the assembly. You eliminate the need to remove (and replace if needed) every single component individually in your software during the production process.

Bill of Materials

The bill of materials shows all the information about a production plan, including its assemblies and required components. This helps you plan for which items need to be produced, and what components to pull from inventory for that production plan. It also helps you realize more quickly which components are in stock or need to be ordered for that production plan, saving significant time compared to managing the process by hand.

Multiple Warehouse Management

Many companies that manage an inventory grow such that their products are stored in more than one location, whether it’s another warehouse or even on a truck or trailer. The ability to see which items are located by warehouse is extremely helpful. Some systems allow you to manage inventory in multiple locations, and even let you make transfers within the software when necessary.  The ability to view inventory by location keeps you more organized and allows you to get the inventory you need more quickly.

Physical Inventory

This is the process of counting the actual number of items in inventory, entering it into your software system and getting the two sets of numbers to agree. This process helps keep your inventory numbers accurate.  Software can help with this process by printing a working file and providing a place to enter a physical count from the printed count sheets.

Serial / Lot Number Tracking

Many businesses have items for which they must track serial or lot numbers. In times of item recall, it is crucial that the number tracking system is up to date and quickly accessible.  Software programs can keep track of inventory serial and lot numbers upon receipt into inventory. When an item is sold, the number can be selected and will be tied to the customer. If there is a recall or issue, you can then run reports to see which customers got items from a certain range of numbers, making this process much faster than looking back at sheets of paper.

Turnover

Turnover is defined as the number of times the average inventory on hand is sold and replaced during a period of time. A higher turnover rate indicates your inventory is not just sitting on the shelf getting “stale”. Inventory management software can help clarify what your company’s turnover is by product, which can help identify which items you are purchasing too seldom, too often, too many, etc. which can have a drastic impact on your cash flow.

Unit of Measure “UOM”

Inventory items must be measured somehow, and that is why we have units of measure. We can measure items by the pallet, the box, the bag, the gram, the pound, and much more. Where it becomes difficult is when you need to purchase items in one unit of measure, and then sell in another. Software can help out with this by allowing you to set up your own units within the system. You can also use the software to set up the pricing per unit, so that when you sell an item, the correct amount is taken out of stock, and the correct price is charged for that unit.

These inventory management tools can help keep your inventory running smoothly, and increase the profitability of your business.