Depending on the study, inventory supplies can comprise 4-9% of your operational budget. That can be a significant amount depending on the size of your organization. I’ve read case study after case study and the common denominator is organization. Walk your campuses, open some closets and I’m sure you’ll see what I’m talking about. Old parts sitting on shelves collecting dust that may or may not address a scenario or fit the equipment anymore. Getting organized is the first step for inventory management. In our inventory series, we will discuss how to get organized and establish an inventory count in order to begin using an automated system.
Tips for getting organized
Where do I start? You'll need to first determine "storage pools" where you stock inventory items. These pools could be a warehouse, a garage, custodial closets, vehicles, etc. Then, you will want to decide on if you can manage those pools and if you can consolidate storage as you do not want an overwhelming number of pools that are a) unmanagable and/or b) where stashing could occur.
Dealing with stale inventory
Identify the inventory that has been sitting around for awhile and collecting dust. Rule of thumb, use it or lose it. Stale inventory could make up 20% or more of your overall inventory. Why manage something that isn't used on a regular basis when in today's world it can be ordered on-demand, or in some cases, can be delivered the same day?
Now that you've started the organization process and cleaning up, start taking a count of what needs to be tracked. This could be simply entered into a spreadsheet and later imported into a solution which allows you to be more proactive with your inventory counts, locations and eventually your costs.
Setting up pools
Once you define your pools of where inventory is stored, determine how much of each item that can be stored in each pool. This is often called a min/max or a high/low level. If you are running low on an item in one storage pool, simply transfer an item vs. buying more, therefore reducing time and saving money.
The hardest part is in the re-organization and setup, so a key element is staying organized to prevent clutter and unknowns from creeping back in. You do not want your stock area to be like my kids' rooms where I consistently pick up and start over, pick up and start over. The focus should be to reduce stale inventory, clean up aisles in a warehouse, clean up shelves, and eliminate hiding areas. You operate a professional team providing professional services with professional products. Disarray causes disarray.