How to Improve Inventory Management with a Web Application
4 min read
Topic:Automate Business Process
For most businesses, one of the biggest challenges when it comes to inventory management comes down to the fact that it often feels like you're trying to shoot an arrow at a moving target. With so many employees in the field working on various jobs, not to mention supply replenishment happening constantly, it's difficult to really nail down exactly what you have - and where those items are needed to best service your clients.For far too long, organizations have relied on "old school" pen and paper methods of inventory management - or worse, spreadsheets. These options often give you the illusion of some type of control, but they're not something you can really update as quickly as you need to simply because they were never designed to do that in the first place. Spreadsheets have their place, to be sure - but generating real-time visibility into the inventory, parts and supplies that you have on hand is absolutely not a part of it.
What if you know that you have the supplies needed to do a job, but aren't quite sure which warehouse or truck they're currently in? A spreadsheet isn't going to tell you. Wouldn't you like to stop paying huge amounts of money in overhead costs each month to stop storing items that are sitting on warehouse shelves, seemingly indefinitely? A spreadsheet (or an older paper-based process) isn't going to be able to provide you the insight necessary to get to that point.
For that, you need something far more sophisticated - and built with the modern enterprise in mind.
Thankfully, a number of solutions have emerged in recent years that are viable ways to solve all of these issues and more. By building a web-based inventory management system that can be accessed in the field to deliver a real-time inventory of materials at a moment's notice, you're providing executives with the up to the minute reporting they need to always make the right move at the right time.
Not only is this a great way to maintain a closer eye on your inventory, but it also brings with it the most important benefit of all: putting you in a position where you're able to better service your customers in a far easier and more effective way as well.
The Problem With the "Old School" Approach to Inventory Management
These days, many companies absolutely require the proper management of inventory materials to enable better and more efficient product or service deliveries. If you want to make the best and most informed decisions possible in a given situation, it stands to reason that you need to know precisely what you're dealing with - and the availability of certain materials or components is right at the top of that list.
Therefore, gaps in your inventory are more than just a minor inconvenience - they're literally harming your ability to better service your customers. The reputational damage from this being allowed to continue for too long alone could be difficult, if not outright impossible, to recover from.
To get an idea of just how problematic this can become, consider an example of service trucks that contain inventory inside them. If that inventory isn't being adequately tracked, those trucks can show up to their destinations without the right parts in tow. Likewise, the cost of parts is ultimately just a guess without tracking - something that rolls directly into overhead costs, too.
With tracking, on the other hand, you have all the actionable information you need to guarantee that trucks have all the necessary parts exactly when they're needed. If they don't, you can order more on-demand and have an up to the minute (not to mention accurate) inventory count at every moment, no matter what.
From that perspective, improving inventory management by way of a web application totally removes guesswork from the equation, giving you all the insight you need to always make sure items are where they need to be, full stop.
This type of innovative solution is especially important within the context of construction firm ordering with regards to commodity materials like asphalt and gravel. Obviously, the exact amount of those materials that will be needed will not be known until the job is completed. Therefore, this inventory of material needs to be captured while in the field and on mobile devices.
By doing this, organizational leaders have accurate data in which to make sure they are quickly replenishing the needed materials, all while still billing clients accurately as well.
Improving Inventory Management, One Web Application at a Time
Of course, there are other benefits to improving inventory management by way of a web application, too. Purchasing teams can have a better handle over inventory, for example, allowing them to make sure that an adequate supply of materials are always on hand and are not stored in warehouse indefinitely. This enables "just-in-time" ordering to not only make sure you're satisfying the needs of clients, but in a way that also keeps overhead costs lower, too.
By making sure that inventory is always moving into and out of your warehouses at exactly the right pace, you're not paying to store products that you're not actually seeing a return on investment from. From that point of view, the cost savings that comes with this alone are more than worth the initial expense for most businesses.
Along the same lines, accounting and billing departments will now have all of the actionable intelligence they need in order to properly bill the client, or to at the very least better understand the profit on any particular job. This brings with it two important benefits, the first of which being that you're simply able to bill the client in a more accurate and faster way than ever before. The faster you can invoice your client, the faster they're able to pay it - thus improving incoming cash flow during a time when margins are likely thin enough as it is.
Secondly, you're also creating a situation where you're able to offer better fixed price quotes for similar jobs in the future. You're letting the insight of the past inform the future, which not only leads to better client experiences but also makes you more competitive in terms of quotes at the same time. It's a legitimate competitive advantage that you can only get by way of a true web based inventory management system, which is a big part of why these solutions have become so popular with so many different types of businesses in recent memory.
Empower Your Business with Innovative Web Applications
In the end, building an application that can be accessed in the field to deliver real-time inventory of materials brings with it a host of opportunities, all at the exact same time. The most immediate of those is that your employees (not to mention your executives) now have access to the up to the minute reporting they need to make better and more informed decisions all the time.
When you also consider the fact that your company now has the infrastructure in place to guarantee that the proper inventory is available whenever and wherever it is needed, you're looking at a perfect storm in the best possible way.
To learn more about improving inventory management with a web application, please download the eBook titled "How to Automate Business Process in 7 Smart Steps."