Selecting an inventory management software for your manufacturing enterprise is not a decision to be made lightly. To make your decision easier, we’ve provided a list of the ten most important features to ensure are present before considering a manufacturing inventory software.
What is Manufacturing Inventory?
The word “inventory” in manufacturing has a few separate and distinct meanings. Materials or components that will be procured from suppliers are raw materials inventory that must managed from their source until they are moved to a production line. While in production, materials are considered work-in-progress (WIP) inventory. And finally, once completed, become finished goods inventory. Of course, there are numerous classifications within these three, but these are the key ones.
What does Manufacturing Inventory Management Software Do?
Manufacturing inventory management software allows companies to streamline sourcing and allocation of materials through automating repetitive tasks and reducing human error. Knowing what you have and where it is saves you time and money versus buying too much inventory to overcome uncertainty—a typical bad practice. But the most important benefit of inventory management is full visibility into all of your inventory to reduce the risks of potential stockouts that might result in short or late shipments to customers.
Top 10 Features to Look for in Manufacturing Inventory Management Software
Not every manufacturing inventory management software will have the features your company needs. Here, we’ve listed the top ten most important capabilities you should ensure are present before selecting a manufacturing inventory software.
1. Accurate Manufacturing Inventory Details
The most important function of manufacturing inventory software is providing precise, real-time information on your company’s inventory. Ensure that your selection of manufacturing inventory software is capable of providing detailed information on your inventory, including ABC category analysis, real-time location information, and transaction reporting. It is also worth noting that while most manufacturing inventory software is “accurate,” they often operate in silos as opposed to an integrated system like enterprise resource planning (ERP), resulting in errors and discrepancies since they are isolated from the other business functions that impact and affect inventory. Thus, manufacturing inventory software that operates in conjunction with the other departments of your business often provides more precision on your inventory details.
2. Real-Time Inventory Tracking from Anywhere
Being able to track inventory from a mobile device or tablet is currently the most effective means of keeping your inventory details up to speed. Being able to log changes from a mobile device or tablet allows your staff to update inventory quickly, easily, and from any location, saving time and increasing productivity. Manufacturing inventory software with real-time inventory tracking also allows you to save money on hardware often used for entering and storing inventory. Additionally, mobile inventory systems allow you to access data remotely and entail a far lower risk of losing data.
3. Bar Code Scanning
Manufacturing inventory software like Rootstock allows for barcode scanning that easily records inventory movements, allows your enterprise to cut costs, save time, improve efficiency, and reduce overhead by eliminating the uncertainty mentioned above. Manually entering data is time consuming and highly susceptible to human error. Barcode scanning, however, is fast, reliable, and requires very little, if any, employee training. Their versatility extends beyond the products themselves; barcodes can be used to track and store data for a wide variety of purposes. They can be inexpensively printed and attached to almost any surface, allowing you to track not only products and inventory, but pricing, outgoing shipments, and equipment, as well as verifying product authenticity and managing returns. Since barcodes provide you with accurate, real-time information on your inventory levels, you can avoid ordering more than you need to meet current demand. This allows you to reduce inventory and reduce carrying costs. Moreover, excess inventory locks up valuable capital—and floor space—that could be used for other, more revenue generating investments. Time, money, and effort can be saved on data entry and retrieval, as well as locating equipment or replacing equipment presumed to have been lost.
4. Full Traceability, Lot, and Serial Number Tracking
Traceability enables your enterprise to know the status and location of all inventory including ”one-back” from where it was purchased, and “one-forward” as to what customer it was shipped to. This full traceability saves you time, money, and effort managing your inventory because it is all at your finger tips instead of cabinets of binders. With lot and serial number tracking capabilities, Rootstock provides manufacturers with all of the necessary features they need to take control of their company’s inventory. Watch this 60 second demo to learn more about Rootstock’s full traceability features and how it can benefit your manufacturing inventory management.
5. Powerful Automation Features
Automation features are a critical component of quality inventory management software. Automating pre-defined workflows mitigates the inevitable human error involved with manual inventory management, preventing inaccurate inventory reports and the reducing the risk of stock-outs, late shipments, and loss of customers. Furthermore, it saves time and money collecting, formatting, organizing, and reporting on inventory data; and makes the your finite accounting staff more productive.
Watch this on-demand demo to see how Rootstock benefits inventory management through its automation features and the positive impact it can have on a business.
6. Integration with ERP Systems
Manufacturing inventory software works best when integrated with an ERP system that connects it to the other parts of the company. While most manufacturing organizations already utilize an ERP system, they often use a separate, isolated system to manage their inventory. By connecting your inventory management software to the other facets of your business with an integrated ERP system, you obtain far greater visibility and a more comprehensive understanding of its operations. For instance, decisions regarding inventory management can then be made in conjunction with recent sales data or concerns about the supply chain.
7. Bill of Materials (BOM) Management
Efficient manufacturing inventory management requires a thorough understanding of the parts you will need to procure in order to manufacture your products (the BOM). Effective bill of materials management allows you to efficiently plan the purchase of materials, accurately estimate costs, and minimize production delays. It also improves your ability to respond to sourcing mishaps and supply chain delays as material components can be substituted for alternatives and BOMs can be automatically updated across your product lines.
8. Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management features are an essential component of manufacturing inventory software. Storing key vendor information and purchase order history allows you to properly prioritize suppliers and negotiate better contracts. Perhaps even more importantly, supply chain visibility allows you to readily react to short-shipments, mispicks, delivery delays, and order cancellations, ensuring your manufacturing enterprise can continue at full speed without production bottlenecks.
9. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for Sales
A manufacturing Inventory software that is compatible with a CRM provides significant benefit to production planning and inventory control. Sales information can improve demand forecasting and reduce overhead costs from excessive inventory; and lot and serial numbers can be traced through to the end of the sales order fulfillment process for comprehensive visibility. Watch this free demo to see how Rootstock Inventory Management seamlessly operates on the Salesforce platform.
10. Supplier Collaboration Tools
Managing your relationships with your suppliers is something that should be approached strategically for maximum output. Through aligning your business strategy with the right business partners, you can drive value for your organization as well as theirs through frequent and consistent collaboration. Inventory management software with synchronous supplier collaboration features like Slack and asynchronous collaboration features like partner portals allow you to build more strategic, longer-lasting, and profitable relationships with your suppliers.
Rootstock Cloud ERP on Salesforce Improves Manufacturing Inventory Control
From bar code scanning and powerful automation features to full traceability and supplier collaboration tools, Rootstock Cloud ERP provides all of the most important features that constitute a modern manufacturing inventory software. Built natively on the Salesforce Platform, Rootstock integrates inventory control with the rest of your business, providing you with comprehensive oversight on your inventory position.
Don’t just take our word for it, look what happened when Northeast Lantern implemented Rootstock Cloud ERP. From thousands of scattered spreadsheets to visibility over their entire inventory seamlessly organized onto one cohesive platform, Rootstock has helped them manage their SKU’s much more efficiently.
Automate Critical Inventory Functions with Rootstock Manufacturing Inventory Management Software
Rootstock has helped manufacturing enterprises across the globe achieve visibility and control over their inventories and we’re certain it can help yours too. To learn more about Rootstock’s Inventory Management features, visit our product page or watch this demo on Rootstock Inventory Management.