For inventory software consulting, our clients find themselves in a variety of situations, but two are the most common. Either they’ve recently purchased an inventory software management system for their small business and need help implementing it into their existing operation, or, they’ve already taken a stab at implementing said warehouse software but for whatever reason, the results were not up to their expectations. In this article, we will take a closer look at the latter situation.
A Common Problem
Very often, businesses will purchase an inventory software management system and attempt to implement it themselves. They will likely reach out to the respective software support team when necessary, but overall the approach will follow the “figure it out as we go along” method. The go live date may come and go, but throughout all this trial and error, while they probably learned a lot, they typically don’t have a firm grasp on the IMS as a whole nor do they feel like they are currently getting the most out of it.
Alternatively, many businesses will, in fact, hire a familiar or local consultant to help them with their integration, but come to find much later that whomever they hired did not in fact prepare them adequately for everything their workflow truly demands. Do either of these situations describe anything like your experience with your inventory software management? If so, the good news is that there is still hope to get the most out of your software implementation project. We can help you get back on track in order to utilize your inventory system to its absolute fullest.
How do we go about this? We simply focus on the primary aspects of your IMS software that are most essential to a successful inventory management operation. There are two major facets to this: setup, and usage. Of these two, setup is the most fundamental because if it’s not set up right, it won’t produce favorable results regardless. To cover these two overall bases, we follow a tried and tested five step process that will ensure that your improvement project will be a success.
Five Proven Steps
Our approach to software consulting aims to be proactive and forward-thinking, so we have come up with a structured and principal-based system that will work regardless of whatever it is you find yourself struggling with. We like to begin with the end in mind, and for this reason, our first step is to document your desired overall workflow for your operation.
Document Desired Overall Workflow
The first step involves creating an overarching roadmap and vision for how the day-to-day workflow of the company should ideally operate. What this looks like, in practical terms, is a document composed of a series of paragraphs that describe each individual step required for you operation to function at optimal levels. For example, there will likely be a paragraph explaining something like the individuals and tasks involved with sales order entry. We will ideally involve the key individuals who oversee these specific tasks and call upon them to determine what best practices should be implemented to accomplish the desired overall goals of the workflow.
During this process, it will usually happen that we come upon a particular problem or red flag that needs to be addressed. Perhaps the system is not set up or configured correctly, or there is some other inconsistency with the workflow. In this case we will pause and correct whatever the issue is so that it will not sprout up in the future, and in this way, we are not only performing maintenance, but preventative maintenance also. In fact, identifying potential complications is one of the main reasons we like to engage in this step first because we can oftentimes put out fires before they take place.
Analyze and Set up a Sandbox
The next step involves creating a virtual copy of your existing workflow, also referred to as a sandbox environment. This is helpful because it creates a safe environment in which you can practice, experiment, and make mistakes without producing real consequences. This sandbox is where all training will take place to allow for an unlimited margin for trial and error while your people familiarize themselves with the new workflow system. The actual creation of the sandbox is fairly straightforward, so we have a document that outlines how to do this yourself that you may follow. However, if you run into confusion or don’t have the time to figure it out on your own, we can hold your hand through the process as well.
Document Desired Individual Procedures
At this stage, we carry over the workflow procedures from our previous steps and translate them to the individual level. Whereas before, our workflow processes would only require roughly a paragraph of general descriptive notations, we will now go much more in depth and personalize the individual procedures to be roughly a page in length, using images from the inventory software screen to describe where to click and activate what needs to be performed in order to complete their functional role in the overall workflow procedure. These documents will be labeled with the specific names and roles of the individuals who will carry out the particular responsibility within the desired workflow, and can be continually referenced for training purposes as needed.
Training and Practice
After all previous steps have been sufficiently performed, we are ready to begin the training. However, because of the measures already taken, much of the groundwork has already been laid to familiarize your team members on the tasks necessary to achieve optimal results through the inventory system, and there should be little surprise as to who is doing what, as well as what the workflow should look like overall. Instead, we will simply jump into the practice sooner rather than later and get everybody comfortable with the new and improved system of operations.
The final step once everyone is comfortable, and all workflow visions have been actualized, is to go ahead and implement the improvements necessary to bridge the gap between where you have been and where you want to be with your inventory software system. This may entail installing a custom report, or integrate with a third-party app or different software program that will enhance and compensate for what your current system may lack. This is followed by ensuring that the authorized users of the team are held responsible to carry out the changes that have been set in place.
By following these five steps and focusing on the two major themes of set up and usage, you can be certain that your software improvement project will turn out to be a successful one. If you feel as though you are not currently getting the most out of your inventory software system, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 844-839-4949 and we’ll give you a quote.