Monday, September 9, 2013

Inventory Management Software - Off-the-shelf solutions

While going through the inventory readings, a theme that was of interest to me was when and how do you develop a materials requirement planning database. 

When developing a new manufacturing facility, how do you manage your inventory and suppliers?  Are there any off the shelf databases available that assist in forecasting and decision making?  To answer these questions, I investigated inventory management software.

Most inventory management systems are designed for large corporations, with many divisions, to help seamlessly integrate their functionality and information pools.  Because of that, it has traditionally been expensive for smaller operations to utilize similar inventory management techniques.  Additionally, smaller enterprises are not as structured as larger corporations, so they need simple inventory management systems that are still powerful enough to process the necessary information.  To assist with data flexibility, for smaller organizations, cloud based applications are becoming available to the users.  5 inventory management systems available for anyone, off-the-shelf are briefly reviewed below:

  1. Brightpearl - Cloud based management software that helps users keep track of inventory, customer data across multiple retail channels and suppliers.  It also offers simple accounting and reporting software, and easily integrates with other applications and platforms to increase adoptability and versatiliy. (Price $100/month)
  2. Lettuce Apps - Lets you place orders from your phone, with or without internet connection.  Probably very useful for a small craft/trade salesman (jewelry maker, glass blower, etc) to help track purchases, make it easier on the consumer to buy from them on the spot, and assist with CRM. ($59/month)
  3. Megaventory - Sounds like a cheap, says it's helpful app, but really is a waste of space and would be more efficient to utilize a spreadsheet for inventory management.  Can do a 'variety of tasks' including inbound, outbound, and transfers.  Can also create sales quotes.  I'm guessing software of this nature will hinder the potential growth and scalability of a company, as you will develop bad habits and work within the constraints of the system if it's to be what so ever useful. ($9.90/month)
  4. Tradegecko - Can manage, monitor and monitor inventory and track stock movements.  Helps you see what products are selling, and which are not.  Also allows you to create purchase orders from vendors on the fly, or sales orders to customers.  Sounds like a very interesting, simple, inventory management software that does what it's supposed to and doesn't try to take on too much. ($49/month)
  5. NetSuite Inventory Management - Offers end-to-end inventory management solution from procure to pay.  Provides real time dashboard that monitors supplier, inventory and procurement indicators.  Sounds like they're offering a lot, for the price, so it either requires a lot of maintenance to keep it up to date and working effectively, or worth a closer look. ($99/month)
In review, it sounds like there may be one or two inventory management applications out there, that would be useful for small businesses to keep track of their supply chains and customer relations.  However, to be truly adaptive, and functionally useful, a company may be better off developing their own supply chain management methods, along with customer relations and sales/marketing info, and come up with quick fixes while growing and generating revenue, so that when the time comes to scale up to the larger scale, they have their own processes in place that work for their business in particular, and develop a strategy that matches that as closely as possible.  It's not just the data/information management that makes a business, and implementing poor products may hurt the business more than they help.

Aside from inventory management, and customer/supplier database, what sort of information would you want to track in a startup company, and how would you manage that information before you can implement a true MRP database?


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  2. Thanks for taking the time to cover Megaventory. We've made an effort to instill best practices, usability but also flexibility as much as possible in the product and as such we believe there will be no issues of scalability or picking up bad habits due to using Megaventory (quite the contrary actually). We'd love to address any issues you may have had while review it - and perhaps shed light on more efficient ways of getting things done with it...

  3. Inventory is the backbone of every organization if the firm know about the various raw materials and the current stocks then only it can take next orders.

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