Creating Procedures for your Inventory Software
With any process, it is important that you begin with the end in mind. When it comes to inventory management software, this is especially true, because if you don’t have a vision and plan for your eventual workflow, you will find yourself overwhelmed by unforeseen issues and a lack of cohesion in your procedure. Thankfully, there is a way to avoid these issues altogether. With our 5-step process, you can strengthen the foundation of your system and have confidence that you’ll be doing it right.
To get the most out of your small business inventory software, it’s crucial that you begin with an overall vision. We can help you with that step, and we go over that process more here. Once this has been accomplished, however, it is similarly important that you begin to flesh this vision out with personalized and specific procedures. We like to call this step documenting desired individual procedures, and this is step three of our five step plan.
Documenting Desired Individual Procedures
After taking some time to set up a sandbox in which your ideas can be mapped out and put to paper, which was step two, this is the natural follow up to our first step, which was documenting desired overall workflow. This step is the point at which we go from the general to the specific, taking your original brainstorming and turning it into actual working practices. And when we say practice, that’s just what we mean. In this stage we believe it is the perfect time for trial and error, taking the ideas that seem to work and discarding the rest.
We do this by painstakingly listing and going through each step in the workflow process and describing in detail the necessary actions and parts required for the task to be fulfilled. Not only will we define the steps verbally, we will also illustrate them with visual screenshots of the right settings, checkboxes, buttons, etc. that need to be activated in order for the step to be completed. The document thus becomes useful not only as a means of reference, but also for training.
Pre-Implementing the Inventory Management System
As inventory software consultants, it is our job to bring our knowledge and expertise to the table in order to assist you with the important software details and considerations you’ll need to be aware of with regards to the sometimes finnicky ways in which inventory software systems can operate. Your role as business representatives is providing us with the needs and goals of your business so that we may come together and create a cohesive solution-oriented process.
We’ll be there to hold your hand throughout the process. We’ll help you with tasks such as data transfer, adding inventory to QuickBooks, implementing a barcode system, and any manner of other technical questions you may have. You as your own business specialist, however, will take the lead on detailing the kinds of tasks that must be done in order to streamline the process to your own liking. This includes assigning clear roles and responsibilities for those on your team, and making sure everyone is accountable for their role. We call this the process of making best practice decisions. In a sense, you give us the “what,” and we will provide for you the “how,” and we will also provide you suggestions and input relating to what has worked for others in the past.
Breaking Down the Process
The wording chosen for this step is not an accident. For example, when we say document, what we mean is recording what you will be doing to create a functioning system for your workflow. We have found that if it isn’t written down, it likely won’t be carried out the way it is supposed to, nor will it be remembered. For this reason, documenting is a must.
But we are not documenting just any workflow. Rather, we are documenting the desired workflow, as opposed to your current workflow. The reason this is a distinction is because you don’t want to settle when it comes to your workflow plans, you want to aspire to improve. And while this may sound obvious, it is more common than you might think for businesses who are new to inventory software to get caught in the same inefficient patterns.
“Individual” is the next descriptive word regarding this step, and it speaks to the fact that this is not an general step, but a very personalized and meticulous one where specifics such as the personnel, parts, and specific processes are beginning to be employed and practiced. This is all going toward your eventual live warehouse management procedure. As the name suggests, therefore, this step is documented, it is desired, it is individualized, and it is procedure-oriented as well.
Next Steps for your Inventory Software
A major focus of this phase is to prepare for training. You or your key person will learn the ins and outs of the software in order to be confident enough to relay it to the people on your team. This familiarization is important because it ensures that you, as the leader, will be able to direct the workflow as it should ideally occur. This will not be a passing knowledge, but an in-depth understanding that will allow you to answer questions accurately and preparedly explain the relevant functions of the software system to instill confidence and good practices from your people.
Once you’ve created your procedural documents, learned the software, and introduced it to your people, you will finally be ready to schedule the go live date. Because this is typically the longest and most involved step, most of the legwork is done by now, and you will have added confidence that everything will run smoothly and that your team will be adequately prepared. At the tail end of this step we will create a go live checklist which will help you build up to the eventual commencement date where your team will be using the software for actual, real-time transactions. With this, you are that much closer to the goal of fully implementing your inventory management software.