Inventory Planning Blog
Here are some of our customers talking about the increased inventory performance and control they have with VALOGIX Inventory Planner.Read More
Your Choice to Change is Not So Easy, or is It?Read More
The vast majority of companies that maintain an inventory use spreadsheets and reports. Some companies have had their overburdened IT departments build them a custom solution. In the scheme of things, these choices may work for a time but after a while they become a barrier to successful inventory planning. So, do you stay with the manual burdensome current process or move to a better way to plan?Read More
- Company: Herramientas Poderosas (HP)
- Location: Guatemala City, Guatemala
- Industry: Construction and Power Tools
- Products: Building Materials and Power Tools
- Items in inventory: 5,200+
Accelerated Growth Changes Business FocusRead More
A New Year and a New Administration Blog – January 2017Read More
Inventory Planning DefinitionsRead More
Effective inventory replenishment planning is a critical process for any company whether manufacturer, distributor or retailer. Planners and purchasing personnel rely heavily on their suppliers to have the items they need as they need them. But, suppliers have the same replenishment challenges and they also rely heavily on their suppliers and or manufacturing units.
As consumers, we are driven to challenge and negotiate the price of everything we buy. This can be a good thing as you can realize additional savings in many cases. When it comes to purchasing items for a business though, how do you properly gauge the value of the inventory you are buying?Read More
Your company has mission to be the best supplier of your products on the market today. Most companies define what that means in terms of serving the customer. For example, your customers can send you an order and get a return confirmation promptly. You will ship all orders within 24 hours. You will offer a variety of products that is both broad and deep. All great goals to build and grow a business. Now, you go out and spend a ton of money on the inventory. To buy smart, you use economic ordered quantities (EOQ) and take advantage of your vendor’s special deals.Read More
Companies approach their inventory planning in many different ways - from seat of the pants guessing, to team collaboration, to spreadsheets that may invoke more team collaboration and manual changes, to forecasting software and some to advanced planning solutions.
Business software solutions like accounting packages or ERP systems come with some level of inventory management or inventory control functionality but rarely do they include forecasting or demand planning. They rely on the user manually setting min and max levels and safety stock to control the inventory. There are stand-alone forecasting packages that offer dozens of statistical models that allow the user to select the one or ones they want to use, and some even provide automated forecasting in which the solution uses a best-fit approach.
Spreadsheets and Reports – The Only Alternative?The vast majority of companies that own an inventory invariably use spreadsheets to control, manage, and report. The types of companies vary from manufacturing, to wholesale distribution, to retail, to aftermarket services, to maintenance and repair operations. In addition, this is true geographically and for companies from the very small to the largest. So why the fascination with spreadsheets?
In most cases, companies already own the software as part of a suite or as already installed on the computer they purchased. They are relatively low cost and have an abundance of features that make them attractive. It is also a case of “you don’t know what you don’t know”. Meaning, people are unaware of the availability of easy to use affordable, automated inventory planning software.
The dangers inherent in spreadsheets are:
1. Lack of Control
2. Errors from:
- Formula and data entry mistakes and typos
- Cell formatting and range definition mistakes (or errors)
- Data exporting problems
- Cell referencing problems
4. Potential for fraud
Lack of adequate training can result in poor to mediocre spreadsheet results, such as improper referencing, linking to other spreadsheets, or using inaccurate formulas to master complex calculations.
If the policies and procedures to mitigate spreadsheet risks are inadequate, errors will become more common and lack of consistency will show up in internal control audit reports. Therefore, the style, content, and accountability for spreadsheets should be documented in the organization's policies and procedures or in the spreadsheet used.
People are creatures of habit, which is one reason why spreadsheets are reused from year to year. Unfortunately, after cutting and pasting information, the spreadsheet might not work the way it did before — formulas can be damaged, links can be broken, or cells can be overwritten.
Many disruptions to the daily workday are common reasons personnel make data entry errors such as skipped entries or transposed numbers. A 2004 PricewaterhouseCoopers study shows that up to 91 percent of sophisticated spreadsheets contain errors. Unfortunately, if auditors know there are spreadsheet errors, so do fraudsters. For example, inadequate spreadsheet controls may lead to errors, misstatements, and possibly fraud.
Failure to back up data is a common and sometimes fatal error that may result in the loss of hours of data entry for computer users, which applies equally to all software tools including spreadsheets. Hardware and software breakdowns do occur from time to time, and backing up regularly and frequently is the best prevention for the spreadsheet user.
Keeping track of reorder points and safety stock for hundreds or thousands of items is becoming an overwhelming task. The time involved to update and maintain these spreadsheets can take hundreds of hours every week. Moreover, demand is constantly changing which can make the data stale and behind the curve for the most recent trends. This can lead to under-stocking causing lost sales and overstock creating excess inventory. In cases, a loss and a waste of valuable cash.
Ray Panko, University of Hawaii compiled data from numerous studies that indicates up to 90% of spreadsheets contain significant errors. Read this report.
Inventory Planning and Optimization the Key to Your Inventory Success
Well, it’s a new year that brings slowly improving global economies. In these challenging times, it is important to balance short term resilience with longer term needs. You will hear a lot about reducing costs, buying less, increasing productivity, improving cash flow and more. It is important to keep these inventory objectives balanced and in perspective. Yes, currently, times are interesting but, as economic growth gains momentum you will need to improve your competitive advantage.
There are a lot of inventory planning solutions available from all types of companies around the world. Many are designed for large enterprise companies as they cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and are highly complex. Some so complex a math or science degree is required just to operate the system. Others at the low end may be just point solutions for just forecasting, as an example, or offer individual modules you need to buy separately.
Most of these solutions include a forecasting capability either their own or from an included third-party provider. They usually also offer min and max levels, safety stock and replenishment calculations. Most require you to manually set replenishment levels and have you select the appropriate forecast method.
But how many offer real inventory optimization and why is this important? There are many reasons why inventory optimization is critical for conducting business in today’s ever challenging economic climate.
First of all is the cost of carrying, holding and managing an inventory. The costs for most items are steadily increasing, real estate costs and taxes are up and shipping costs are through the roof. Inventory optimization provides a great balanced inventory to meet expected demand, while reducing costs and better controlling spend for additional stock purchases. Planning in a timelier manner reduces the need for expediting orders in from vendors, which in-turn reduces the need for expediting shipments to customers.
Secondly, optimization dramatically improves the financial performance of an inventory because buying and stocking are more in-line with expected customer demand. It helps to reduce and almost eliminate the future build-up of excess inventory and dead stock.
Third, there are too many known and unknown variables that can affect your inventory and subsequent customer service levels to manage properly. Just forecasting and planning your inventory leaves you wide-open to problems in meeting both your financial goals and customer expectations. Trying to plan with spreadsheets is even a worse situation that will eventually lead you to higher costs and lower service producing a higher level of customer dissatisfaction and lost business.