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Methods of Inventory Management

If you're a business owner or a manufacturing manager, you know how difficult it can be to keep track of your inventory. Fortunately, there are several different methods of inventory management that can be implemented in order to assure you get the most out of your inventory tracking. The first and perhaps most important method is to use the barcode system. Barcodes assign special numbers to each and every item you're trying to track, all with an integrated system of data. Once you scan your inventory's barcodes, they automatically get decoded and entered into a database, which then allows you to track and maintain inventory quantities, pricing, and any other data you want to save. An important part of inventory management is controlling your inventory, in other words, knowing when stock gets low and when it needs to be re-ordered. There are various methods that can be used to control your inventory. Perhaps the most obvious is simple, visual control. Keep a close eye on things and you can usually see when things are getting low in stock and need to be re-ordered. But what about small parts or articles/items that are stored in large quantities? In cases such as this, a point-of-sale method may need to be used. This method just means that every time an item is sold or distributed/shipped, it is logged. The quantity of items in stock goes down, and the quantity of items needing replacement goes up.

Perhaps the most obvious method for inventory management is to establish good training for employees. Teaching those who will be in charge of inventory the methods and processes already in place is the best way to ensure that everyone is "on the same page" as far as how your inventory is kept track of. A good idea is to test your employees from time to time to be sure that they know the correct procedures for managing the inventory. If they make mistakes, meet with them individually to go over corrective measures to ensure accuracy in the future. Decide which computer program or style you want to use to manage the inventory. You can choose from something as simple as a spreadsheet, to as complex as an entire software package that tracks everything almost automatically. When shopping for software, look for products that offer barcode reading, tracking counts, returns processing, cycling, and more all in one package. This will help you avoid any confusion and prevent you from needing to add another program into the mix later.

With the combination of proper tools like barcodes and scanners, thorough employee training, and an accurate, comprehensive database, you should be able to ensure that your inventory remains in stock when needed and that you will have a good handle on what is available and what is needed. Putting good methods in place is a surefire way to manage inventory effectively and with little to no errors, which can help your business run smoothly and protect the bottom line. Be sure to plan your strategy ahead of time, and your inventory control will run easily and smoothly.

SOURCES:
http://www.sba.gov/library/pubs/mp-22.pdf
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/FX011452051033.aspx

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