When I visit customers to talk to them about how electronic data processing can help them, I often hear something along the lines of, “We don’t think our people are capable of performing this sort of operation.” I hear this very frequently when it comes to warehouse staff. Many companies I meet with believe their warehouse staff could never conform to the use of an electronic scanning process to pick, pack, receive, put away or count their inventory.
I strongly feel that if you believe it is not possible, it IS NOT possible.
More and more these days, people are concerned about the accuracy of their inventory. How many more can I sell without needing to have a million in inventory so I am never out of stock? The ‘just in time inventory’ model is more prevalent in today’s economic environment than ever before. Business owners don’t want their money tied up in inventory that is not going to move and will just ‘rot’ in the warehouse. They don’t trust the inventory in the computer because whenever they ask for a manual count, it never matches the system. One reason why the count is not correct is that they don’t have a way to ensure their inventory is managed properly by their staff. They are basically handcuffed by the inaccuracy of the data.
One way to alleviate this problem is to fire all their staff and hire new people. Besides not being very nice, it’s just not practical. If a sports team keeps losing, you don’t fire the players, you fire the coach! Why not ‘hire’ a Warehouse Management System (WMS) and equip your staff with barcode readers in the warehouse to help properly manage the inventory?
How will a WMS prevent inventory errors and inaccuracies?
- When a product arrives on the loading dock, instead of just marking it down on a piece of paper, your staff scans the barcodes of the purchase order number, the item number and enters the number of boxes received.
- The system checks if that product is on the purchase order and if the quantity is correct. If there is a problem, it warns the user right there when they are receiving in many cases, before the driver has left the dock.
The same is true when shipping products. The worker would scan the barcodes for the sales order number, the item number and enter the quantity picked. If the item is not on the order, or the quantity is incorrect, the worker will be alerted right then and there. This kind of real-time intelligence can benefit all functions in the warehouse.
Can your staff really not handle a warehouse management system?
- First, you would be surprised what your workers can handle when they are given a scanning device to help them perform at a higher level. They take pride in this opportunity to do their job better, faster and more accurately.
- Second, people in today’s digital world are much more computer literate than even 5 years ago. Most people now have a smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC and are comfortable with technology.
- Third, the technology is really not that hard to learn. With so many products barcoded today, it makes it very easy to scan and verify your inventory. Most software packages only ask for the bare minimum in terms of information and can validate all the entries to ensure a wrong entry is caught way before it causes an issue.
So what are you waiting for? Don’t let anxiety about your staff keep you frozen in time. A modern business calls for quick decisions and accurate information and, if you’re not getting that, you need to make it happen. You’ll be surprised how well your staff will adapt and how much of a positive impact a WMS system will make to your bottom line.
MIBAR offers powerful electronic data processing and warehouse management solutions for Microsoft Dynamics GP and NetSuite. Let us help you eliminate the fears and get your warehouse and inventory under control.