Inventory planning managers are looking for simple ways to reduce waste and improve profitability. It is becoming more apparent that advanced technology can dramatically help but the technology must be affordable, quick to implement, and have a high rate of return (ROI). But global supply chains and competition have increased the complexity and risk.
Inventory Planning Blog
Comparison to Spreadsheets
Spreadsheets are manual, time consuming. They do not provide intelligent part mix management and part specific forecasts. In addition, spreadsheets are extremely difficult to update and maintain current data effectively, plus they normally cannot be interfaced directly with enterprise and customer relationship software. Conducting quality assurance on the calculations and models is also difficult and based on a study by a leading international consulting firms over 90% of spreadsheets they audited contained significant errors. These errors led to the loss of millions of dollars.
Comparison with Standard Inventory Management other or Control Systems
Almost every inventory solution is a transaction (accounting) type system. This means they keep track of the physical movement of items on and off the shelf. These are “dumb” systems, meaning they are static and cannot intelligently determine what to stock, project demand, or create a complete replenishment plan. These systems are based on 40 year old plus, methods using ABC as the only part classification technique. They do not have leading-edge Exception Management capabilities which provide "alerts" to the User for unusually occurrences.
What Inventory Management Software can do:
• keep basic part information like: part number, description, cost, dimensions, etc.
• track parts movement: received, on order, on shelf, removed from the shelf, etc.
• provide a basic reorder point and min/max settings
• record the different bin locations where parts are stored
• provide an order for new parts needed, using standard reorder point, min/max, and safety stock
What Inventory Management Software cannot do:
• provide a system generated forecast or offer multiple advanced forecasting methods
• manage repair parts and their repair cycle (reverse logistics)
• provide an optimal inventory mix to improve service level while reducing cost
• offer multiple stocking and reordering policies
• manage parts specifically required for PM (preventative maintenance) schedules
• help to reduce overstock and excess part inventory
• manage by exception and provide key user alerts.
What Advanced Inventory Planning Solutions CAN DO:
• forecast parts demand with multiple models appropriate for different demand patterns
• plan for unlimited part and location combinations (scalable)
• provide advanced calculations for calculating shelf stock and reorder points
• calculate the optimal mix based on dynamic demand changes
• provide time phased plans and order for both new and repair items
• manage by exception and provide alerts to the planner
• identify overstock and excess inventory and provide redeployment strategies
• plan parts for preventative maintenance schedules
• multi-echelon or theatre planning - can plan at every stocking level both real and virtual
(from master warehouse to stock kept with a field or service engineer)
• plan part life cycle, substitutes and supercedes, and end-of-life parts
Combining Transaction Systems + Advanced Planning Solutions
Advanced planning solutions do not replace the existing transaction systems. Instead, they are designed to complement and improve existing software. The best of all worlds is to add an advanced planning solution to an existing transaction system. This provides a more complete, robust system that dynamically plans based on what is happening now and projected for the future. Download our free whitepaper to find out more!
Reports and Spreadsheets– An Unproductive Combination for Inventory Planning
Reports and spreadsheets should be used to provide a basic level of information. However, many companies and planners use reports & spreadsheets to completely manage their inventory. To understand the use of these tools on effectiveness and efficiency in inventory planning let’s explore each one independently.
For: E-Tailers – Wholesale Distributors – Retailers – Manufacturers – Aftermarket Service Companies – Maintenance and Repair Operations
Optimize Your Inventory Planning
A key factor in inventory planning is having and using the right data. There is so much data available you need to have the right set to plan properly. Using analytics in inventory planning can help ease the pain of understanding the data and making informed decisions. It can help you plan faster and more accurately as these systems segment the data properly and automatically present the data in a way that is easy to understand. Too much data with too many choices is not good either as it will be confusing often providing the wrong results. As they say in the Indiana Jones movie, The Last Crusade, “…but choose wisely, for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.” In other words, the right data will generate the right results and the wrong data will be disastrous.
Web based inventory software for business is becoming more plentiful. Solutions specifically built for the web are in great demand around the world. Take for example, Australia and New Zealand, which are experiencing not only increased demand but an increase in the number of available web based inventory software applications.