Farewell, Excel

For years you’ve been tied down by the limits of Excel as an inventory management tool while you tried to run your growing business.

Make the leap from Excel to something much better to manage inventory, Inventory System Software BlogBut you don’t have to stay there any longer. It’s time to break free and enjoy the benefits of using a true inventory management solution that is designed to handle your business’ logistical needs.

Some of the disadvantages of using Excel for managing inventory include:

  • Excel has to be jerry-rigged to work as an inventory management solution
  • It is extremely difficult to cull detailed information and reports from data in Excel
  • Data has to be manually entered into Excel whenever orders are placed, goods are sold, etc.
  • All of this manual data entry opens up the possibility for errors and omissions
  • Training new employees on your customized Excel system can be time-consuming and difficult without documentation and instructions

When you use advanced inventory management software, you leave all of these problems in the dust and move into much safer territory.

Inventory management software is a much better option than Excel because:

  • It’s meant specifically for managing large amounts of inventory
  • Reports can be automatically generated from all of the data in the software
  • Barcode scanners and other devices can be used to instantly enter information instead of doing it by hand at a desktop computer
  • This cuts down significantly on the number of typos and other errors that can occur during data entry
  • Inventory management software usually has detailed training and instructions on how to use its features

Don’t stay tethered to Excel just because it seems like a cheaper option. It could be costing you a lot of time and money in lost productivity that you could enjoy if you switched to something more suitable. Start moving up by moving past Excel for your inventory management.

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Shaking Up Assumptions About Inventory Management

Let’s shake up a few common assumptions about inventory management.

Inventory management doesn't have to be hard, Inventory System Software BlogIt’s Going to Be Hard

Managing inventory isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world. It does take effort. But that doesn’t mean it has to be extremely hard or insurmountable. It’s all about how you look at it.

If you try to comprehend everything going on in your inventory all at once, then yeah, it can seem ridiculously hard. But if you get into a rhythm of handling jobs one at a time and keeping things moving in and out smoothly, it doesn’t seem so huge anymore. Inventory management software can really help segment jobs, speed up the receiving process, automate reorders, and do other things to make managing inventory much easier.

The Way I’ve Been Managing Inventory Is Good Enough

When a company first starts, it’s not going to require a complex inventory management system. But as it grows, its way of doing business needs to evolve, as well.

How much time does it take to pick, pack, and ship an order? What if you could do it much faster? That could make a big difference in your customers’ experience if they can get their orders quicker and more reliably. By looking at each of your inventory procedures and updating them to match the times and your current needs, you’ll be better off in the long run.

I Don’t Need Inventory Management Software

If your client base is growing, your product line is increasing, and/or you’ve got more than one location, it’s a good time to start looking into inventory management software. The complexity of running a system on paper or in Excel spreadsheets just gets to be too much at some point.

If it’s an issue of cost that keeps you from looking into this option, inventory software can usually pay for itself pretty quickly by increasing efficiency and reducing waste after it’s implemented.

Service Providers Don’t Have to Worry as Much About Inventory Management

If you’re a service provider and you don’t actually sell or ship physical products to your customers, you might think that inventory management software isn’t as important to you as it is to retailers, wholesalers, etc. But you can definitely still benefit from it.

You most likely use materials, equipment, and other items that you need to keep track of and put to use in providing your services. Those are your inventory/assets. To keep your business running smoothly, you need to keep track of your supplies and make sure you have enough on hand to meet demand. It’s not all that different from companies that sell products directly.


Managing inventory can be a lot easier if you modernize the way you do it and use a software solution. Plus, service providers need to monitor their inventory levels just as much as other business types.

There are many other misconceptions about inventory management, and I’ll do my best to keep clearing them up so businesses can have a better chance of finding success.

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How to Know You’re Managing Inventory the Wrong Way

When I was a kid, I had a Physical Education teacher who tried to teach me how to shoot a basketball the right way. I thought the way I was doing it was fine because that was the way I had always done it, and it seemed to work just fine.

To win the game, you have to learn how to make baskets, Inventory System Software BlogBut he told me that I had just gotten good at shooting the wrong way, and I needed to break my old habits if I wanted to compete with other kids. He turned out to be right.

Similarly, small and midsize businesses can get really good at managing their inventory the wrong way, but it won’t be good for them in the long run. It can actually hold them back from being more competitive. Unfortunately, habits die hard, and the longer you wait to uproot these old ways, the harder it gets.

The Wrong Ways

Here are some creative ways companies try to make outdated inventory management systems work:

Pen and Paper

Some companies develop extremely complex and detailed shorthand notes to keep track of their inventory by hand in notebooks.

The problem is that those notebooks can be lost, destroyed, or stolen with no backup system to restore lost data. Plus, if an inventory specialist leaves their company without training someone on their shorthand code, all of the data they’ve written down can be difficult to decipher.

Excel Spreadsheets

Excel wizards can devise elaborate spreadsheets that help them calculate costs, keep track of vendors, and get updated with cycle counts.

The trouble is that Excel isn’t designed exclusively for managing inventory, nor can it automatically complete calculations and other processes. That means whenever you order or sell products, you have to manually enter those new values into Excel. Plus, data mining is long and tedious when you have to pull individual pieces from a giant spreadsheet.

Personally Designed Inventory Program

Writing your own inventory management software might seem like an attractive option to avoid having to purchase software.

This presents a host of problems that are ironically similar to using a pen and paper. The person who writes this program isn’t likely to write a comprehensive guide on how they set it up, so if they ever leave, you’re back to square one trying to find someone who can figure out how the program works. That’s not even counting how much time and resources have to go into the creation of this program from scratch.

A Better Way

Small businesses can certainly get good at managing their warehouses, supply chains, and other aspects of their inventory with these methods, but they could be much more efficient if they mastered a better system.

Inventory management software solves all of the problems the above systems have:

  • Files are much harder to lose when they’re digitally recorded, instead of on paper.
  • Inventory management solutions come with extensive training materials so anyone can learn how to use them, instead of just a select few.
  • You can set automatic reorder points on products and do other things to automate processes.
  • Inventory counts are instantly updated when products are ordered, bought, and sold.
  • It’s easier to generate reports and analyze data to discover trends.

If you learn how to manage inventory the right way, you can compete on a higher level and really score.

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It’s Time to Start Thinking About Warehouse Management in 3D

Warehouses have a huge amount of floor space to store items in. But you have probably also noticed that they have tall ceilings.

2D warehouse management, Inventory System Software BlogTake a look at the picture on the right. What do you notice? There’s a lot of unused space. Sure, the floor is covered with boxes, but what about all of the empty vertical space?

It’s time to start managing your warehouse in 3D, not just 2D.

Forklifts, pallets, and industrial-strength shelves let you store items high above the ground. You should still store fast-moving items on the floor so they’re easily accessible, but there’s no reason you can’t make use of the area on top, too.

By thinking in terms of vertical space as well as horizontal space, you can double, triple, or even quadruple the amount of inventory you can store in a single location.

For companies with long-lasting or highly customizable products, having a lot of spare parts and products on hand can be a cost-effective way to go. Many vendors offer volume discounts if you buy in bulk, so it can pay to order a lot at one time and then store the excess inventory up top in your warehouse.

The sky is the limit when you start managing your warehouse in three dimensions!

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5 Reasons You Need an Advanced Workforce Management Solution

Your workforce is at least as important as your inventory. If you don’t have people to move stuff around and get products to your customers then it doesn’t matter how much inventory you have in stock.

There are better ways to manage your workforce, Inventory System Software BlogEffective workforce management is something that eludes a lot of small businesses because they don’t have the resources that larger organizations do. Of course, small businesses don’t have a whole lot of employees at the start, so they can get away with using Excel spreadsheets or even paper notes to keep track of employees’ hours and schedules.

But eventually they’ll come to a point where they need something a bit more advanced. A workforce management solution can make life easier for leaders and their employees. Here are five reasons you should

1. You Need to Manage Your Human Resources Wisely

It’s really nice when you can go into a program and instantly see who’s working on a particular project, who’s at lunch, who’s out sick, etc. Knowing what your employees are up to doesn’t mean you have to be a micromanager, but it simply means that you’re better informed on how your all-important human resources are being put to use.

2. Payroll Numbers Need to Be Accurate and On-Time

If an employee forgets to clock in or clock out, it shouldn’t be a huge deal to go in and fix it. These kinds of errors happen all the time. You need to make sure your numbers all check out and then have an easy way of calculating payroll taxes and other amounts to withhold.

3. You Should Be Able to Estimate Project Costs

Before you begin a big project, you should calculate how much it will cost to make sure it will generate enough of an ROI to be worth your time. A workforce management solution can help you calculate the number of hours it will take to complete the project and the costs you’ll incur by putting employees to work on it.

4. You Could Use Some Help with Scheduling Employee Shifts

As you add more employees, balancing all of their schedules manually can become a serious challenge. You need a solution help you keep track of all of your employees’ preferences so you don’t accidentally schedule someone to work on a certain day or time when they’re not available.

5. You Need to See Advanced Reports

You would probably never know that employees are more efficient at a certain time of day or that one employee is responsible for 50 percent more output than his associates if you didn’t track those numbers. Set your priorities and monitor them with a powerful solution instead of relying on guesswork.

By effectively managing your workforce, you will solve a major issue and give your business a competitive advantage. So let’s get to work!

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5 Reasons Employees Wind Up Doing Things They Weren’t Originally Hired for

Are you doing the exact same things today that were on your job description when you were originally hired? If you stay at a job for any significant amount of time, you’ll probably answer no.

Employees often wind up doing much more than their original job responsibilities.Why is that? Things change, and so do people. Your company isn’t the same as it was a few years ago, and you’re not the same person you were back then, either.

Let’s talk about five reasons employees often wind up doing things they weren’t originally hired to do.

1. They Gain New Skills

Most people aren’t stagnant in their skills. For example, a cashier at a drugstore can move into photo developing, receiving, or other areas of the business. It’s human nature to want to learn new things instead of doing the same thing over and over.

2. They Want to Stand Out

A good way to impress your boss and move up in the company is to do things outside of your job requirements. Ambitious people do this all the time. If you stick to your job description and refuse to do anything else, you won’t be as likely to win friends and become an indispensable team player.

3. Companies Downsize

When a company hits a rough patch and has to lay off some employees, that usually means the ones who are left have to take on those missing employees’ duties. This can involve having to master new skills, such as sales, customer service, technical expertise, etc.

4. Business Operations Get More Complex

The more a company grows, the more work it takes to keep it running. Ideally, companies hire more employees to meet their growing needs, but sometimes they move too slowly or don’t fully understand their needs. Again, it’s up to the hard workers to step up and go beyond their job descriptions to get the job done.

5. Technology Changes

As businesses get more sophisticated and automate more processes, they are increasingly looking for employees who can be flexible and understand the new systems. For example, warehouse workers can be a lot more productive if they learn how to use warehouse management software and hardware to speed up all of their receiving, ordering, picking, packing, and shipping tasks.

The point of all this is simply to note that you shouldn’t expect to remain stagnant in your job. Whatever you do for a living, you can count on it changing over time. Whether you want to get noticed and move up or deal with layoffs or new technology, you need to be open to trying new things.

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Criticism Is Critical to Your Success

It hurts to be told when we’ve made a mistake. But the sad truth is that we grow the most when we are willing to accept criticism from people and make changes based on their feedback.

Not All Advice Is Equal

Criticism, constructive or otherwise, can help people and businesses grow, Inventory System Software BlogOf course, not everyone’s advice is equally valuable. Some people are just angry and wanting to tear you down. You don’t have to take everyone’s advice. It’s important to protect yourself and yet be ready to allow useful feedback in.

The key is to set your pride aside. Even if someone is saying really painful things to you, know that those things don’t make you a bad person. They are a chance to reflect on what you’re doing and find ways to improve.

Creating an Open Corporate Culture

Leaders who are unable to bear criticism will reach barriers in their abilities that they won’t be able to surpass. They shouldn’t surround themselves with Yes Men, nor should they only associate with negative people. There needs to be a balance between kindness and criticism.

Encourage a culture of openness so your employees feel safe offering feedback. Then you can more effectively weed out weaknesses and replace them with strengths, both in the way you manage and the way your business functions.

Listening to Critics

People who are critical of your business or who say things to try to tear it down could ironically prove to be a boon by helping you notice flaws you otherwise would have missed.

Unhappy customers might be pleased with the majority of what your company offers, but just one or two things led them to have a bad overall experience. By focusing on those few failures you can turn things around, especially if you’re already doing so much right. You can even show those customers that you listened to them and made key changes. That might encourage them to give your company another chance.

Critical Analysis

We’re all imperfect people. When someone makes a mistake, it’s tempting to jump down their throat about it, but it’s always a better idea to kindly help them fix it and learn from the experience.

I can’t claim to be perfect in this regard. But it’s critical that all of us keep trying to humbly listen and help.

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