So, you own a start-up and you plan to purchase a shiny new inventory management software to bring forth business into the twenty-second century. What are the factors that you need to consider when choosing an inventory management system? We are going to discuss them in this article.
Inventory Management System Requirements
More often than not, every business decision you will ever make will be a result of a business need. There are exceptions to that rule however and such is the case for research and development. And in the case of acquiring inventory management systems, you are going to have to justify this with a plausible reason. So, when does one need an inventory management system and when can one just wing it?
I am a big fan of getting what I paid for. Thus, it would be uncharacteristic of me to recommend that you buy an inventory management system if you do not need one. But, rest assured, most of the time, the answer would be yes. So, I will not dash your hopes of getting your new toy.
A simple way to find out if you need an inventory management system is if you are comfortable enough calling your pile of company property as inventory. If all your company has is a free online conference room, then you probably do not need an inventory management system. If your company sells products, then you probably need an inventory management system.
When picking an inventory management system that would fit your business model the best, you have to start with gathering your requirements. There are a lot of different kinds of inventory management systems and there are no blanket solutions. Although there are indeed inventory management solutions that are more flexible compared to others.
The requirements that you are gathering are a collection of features that could then be subdivided into two categories which are the wants and the needs. The things that are essential like the ability to import or export the inventory data into older systems that you still run are likely to be a need. Also are platform-specific needs like compatibility with the operating system that you are running. These are the things that you cannot work without. On the other hand, there are also features that you may consider as nice to have. Like for instance the ability to monitor your inventory system in real-time or give you timely alerts at specific times within the day.
Consider The Inventory Management System Cost
Enterprise software costs a lot of money then and it would probably still cost a lot until the future. Basically there are three main ways for you to source your inventory management system which cost-wise. And each of them have their own benefits and risks.
Outsourcing an Inventory Management System
The simplest solution would be to outsource. Whenever there is a business need that your company is not willing to shell out serious money for, the next logical step is to hire other experts to do it then buy it from them. There are quite a lot of software companies out there waiting only for you to tap them up. These developers are often really good at what they do especially if the problem at hand already has well known solutions. Thereby amending such solutions to meet your needs should be a breeze. The need, in this instance, is the creation of the inventory management software of course. How it usually goes is you create a project brief loaded with all the necessary information that your prospective partner might need. Show it around to a slew of software companies and let them impress you with their presentation one by one. There is no real reason for you to immediately commit to one of them as you may have to negotiate the features, the contract and the kind of support you are going to get afterwards.
Off the Shelf Inventory Management Software
The second possible way for you to source your inventory management system needs is by buying one off the shelf. This is probably the least expensive way for you to do it. When one says a software product is bought off the shelf, it means exactly what you think it would mean if you were buying any other kind of product. You buy one off from the shop without any changes to the software, or anything customized or specialized for your needs. There are obvious pros and cons for this approach. As already mentioned, you run the risk of buying software that mismatches to your own needs. This is not impossible since business models differ and there is no definite standard in inventory management system creation that everyone follows. And even if there is one, it would not entail specific needs that you might have for the business process that you have. On the bright side, the price of the product would probably trump that off anything that you outsource. And since there are possibly a lot of other businesses buying the same product, you get support from other people who bought the same product other than the solution provider themselves.
Hiring In-House Developers for Developing an Inventory Management Software
The third way for you to acquire an inventory management software is to do it in house. You could either hire a team of developers in house and add their names in your payroll or you can create an inventory management system yourself. Let us start talking about the latter because that seems to have raised a few more eyebrows than the former. If you have no background in software development and no interest in it either, then you would probably save time by not attempting to do it at all. If you have both qualities however, then it might not be too crazy to create the inventory management software yourself. Deciding to hire a team in-house to develop software specific for your company is not an outlandish idea. In fact, a lot of businesses follow this model.