Excel can save a lot of time when managing inventory, but is it always the best fit? Chelsea Sutherland considers the alternatives.
If you are one of the many businesses still using manual systems like an excel spreadsheet (or pen and paper!) to keep track of your inventory, you're not alone. It's quite common for sole traders and small businesses to rely on tools like these, especially during the start up period. But if your business has grown and your systems and processes haven't adapted accordingly, what "made do" in the early days might actually be costing you time, money and growth opportunities into the future. Below are three ways relying on Excel spreadsheets might be limiting your business.
The second you take delivery of stock or make a sale, your spreadsheet is no longer an accurate reflection of the stock you have on hand. Even if it is part of your "best practice" process to update the spreadsheet during the transaction, all it takes is for another customer to come, the phone to ring or some other distraction that may cause your data updating to be forgotten or double entered.
Sure you can go back on old data and make educated guesses about the next trading quarter but a good Inventory Management Software solution like iMagic Inventory has inbuilt forecasting formulas and functions and lets you set minimum stock levels and auto reordering to ensure that you don't ever miss a sale because you ran out of stock.
When you use an Excel worksheet to track your stock, only one person can be in the document making changes and edits at a time. This means that it can be difficult to pinpoint where something went wrong. Nobody likes to think that they are going to have unscrupulous or incompetent staff working for them but when you can't track who has done what in your system it can be easier for the odd bad egg to go unnoticed.
When it comes to your software and systems, an "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" approach doesn't always work - even if something functions ok enough for your operational needs the process may still be costing you time, money or risk. If your business is still relying on excel and manual methods, it may be time to consider upgrading to a digital inventory solution.