If you are a business owner or administrator, perhaps you’ve heard about Locate, Mysis, Fishbowl, Unleashed, Cin7, Katana, Dear, or similar products. But what do all of these brands have in common? Each of them is a warehouse management system, also referred to as inventory software, that connects to QuickBooks. In this article we will discuss what a warehouse management system is, how it works, and why you might need one.
What is a Warehouse Management System?
When we talk about warehouse management software, generally what we mean is a system that manages orders, controls and tracks the inventory, and oversees the overall workflow of said inventory. It provides clarity into the whole of your inventory catalog so that you can more completely know what is going on with inventory in your warehouse, leading to increased efficiency, fulfillment, and power over what goes on in your operation. Because of this, it can allow you to use all of your resources to the fullest, such as the amount of space you have, or the number of warehouse employees you’re paying.
What does an Inventory System Do?
Different inventory management systems come with a variety of features, and no two are the same. For example, some are localized and desktop or server-based, whereas others can be accessed from a browser. However, there are a few specific elements that are more or less common to the majority of IMS services out there. One of these is the ability to track the serial numbers of your products so that everything in your record is accounted for and numbered. Another common feature is barcode scanning, enabling you to quickly identify any item you carry with a simple scan, helping you reduce human error while improving accuracy with receiving and handling. Each software system for inventory will come with a way to handle and record pricing, purchases, returns, bills of material, and work orders in one way or another.
While the bells and whistles vary from system to system, features like the above are typically the bread and butter of any inventory management software. It is the more advanced and specific features that will be the difference between the many options out there, with some being purposely designed for larger companies, and others suiting specific types of tasks. For example, a kitchen appliance manufacturer would have a different set of needs from a beauty products supplier. It is important to know what features and goals you have before endeavoring to choose an inventory system for your business.
When Should I Consider Getting Inventory Software?
Virtually every small business utilizing an inventory-supplied product that crosses a certain threshold of growth will begin to consider a warehouse management system to assist them. This is because running a larger-scale company with something more basic, like QuickBooks Online or Excel, is bound to not only inhibit growth, but also cause short and long-term issues on every level of operations. These basic programs are simply not robust enough to handle the volume and complexity of shipping, manufacturing, storing, and selling the products you specialize in beyond a certain point.
Typically, a good portion of these emerging issues and difficulties are realized before upgrading to a new system, and are more often than not the catalyst for the decision to find a new system to begin with. Sooner or later, any growing business will need help managing the growing demands of volume and an increasingly complicated workflow, and a software management system is the answer to this issue. If you find yourself overwhelmed with burgeoning growth and falling behind on your fulfillment, it is almost always a good idea to start looking at making the investment of a new WMS. Though the initial costs of purchasing and implementing such a system might seem steep, most businesses find that the transition not only helps them adjust to the new growth that they’re experiencing, it also helps to accelerate it.
A Word of Caution
While the benefits of upgrading to a full-fledged warehouse management system should not be understated, there are a few caveats to be aware of as you explore this big step in you’re businesses’ progression. As mentioned earlier, there is a wide variety of inventory software systems available, and each of them have specific features and benefits associated with them. This is great because it means that there are options for just about every kind of business, but on the flipside, there is a real danger of selecting an inventory system that is not an ideal fit for your company.
Choosing the wrong software can diminish any benefits you would have otherwise gained with the purchase, and lead to additional problems beyond that. With so many options to consider, it’s not hard to simply get lost, or go with the first one that catches your attention, but the decision of which brand you go with should not be taken lightly. Before making this choice, make sure that you have done your homework, or hired an outside consultant to help you out with the process of narrowing down and selecting the software.
Additionally, while it is certainly important to make the right software selection for your business, it is equally necessary that the inventory management system is set up properly, and all your users sufficiently trained. Often businesses will become overconfident that the software alone will solve all of their problems, and neglect the necessary steps of setting up and soundly implementing the WMS with a concrete vision. A rushed, incomplete, or slipshod implementation will not only hinder you from seeing the improvements you would like, it will also create unforeseen problems. See our article here about how to get it right the first time.
The Best Inventory Process for you
A warehouse management system is a fantastic investment for a growing business so long as the software is a good fit for the company, and it is implemented correctly. Fortunately, we offer services that can assist you with both of these necessary steps. Fill out our form here and we will let you know what we can do to help.