Being involved in our clients' stocktake on the projects I have a hand in, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. It can be simple if you follow some simple steps. It can also go horribly wrong if any detail is missed in the preparation. Here I look at these preventative measures to stop it becoming a waste of time. I also look at it as if you were to use an electronic stocktake system with barcodes on your item or pallets.
1. Items or boxes need to be correctly barcoded.
2 weeks ago we had a go-live with a manufacturer in the UK and many of the item codes that had been applied in production were printing incorrectly. Without this information, we were unable to scan the products to register them into stock. This made the initial stock take inaccurate, requiring some relabelling and then registration of those products. It was time consuming and painful.
2. Follow a process.
Spot check the selected location for correct labelling and damages.
Option 1: If you keep your items in containers, like pallets, boxes or totes, you can do a quick stocktake by scanning the container code only. The system will know what is in the container, assuming items were registered correctly into that container at goods in.
Option 2: If you want to do a full check on how many items are in each container, you use stocktake option 'Scan items on containers'. This is the most accurate way. I would not use this for any containers that are one type of product and are full - in other words they have not changed the items or quantity since they were registered to that container. For that, use option 1.
Option 3: This stocktake method is used by internet retailers most commonly where items are kept directly on shelves or racking which are set up as locations. Here you select a location and then scan an item and enter the quantity. Or you scan each item which counts the quantity as 1 per scan, which obviously will take longer but will give you 100% accuracy. This is used most often for recounts on specific locations after you have found variances from the stocktake.
Once the stocktake is complete on that location, be sure not to let anybody pick from that location until you have completed the step below.
So we have now completed the spot check and stocktake on the selected location. The next step is where I recommend the iPad is used. As each location stocktake is completed, you select that on the iPad which brings up the variance report. You then see which containers are in that location, with accept or reject for any changes that have taken place. The stock status that is updated from the stocktake is On hand, rather than allocated and available.
The next step is to recount any variances you have found and make stock adjustments by removing inventory, registering new or changing existing. All these should be performed on a rugged handheld computer. Once updated, you then have an updated stock report.
3. Do it perpetually
Choose a few locations per week to count when you have some time. The only thing to remember is to make sure nothing is picked between the steps of the stocktake procedure.
The aim is to do this as a process, little and often, rather than the annual constipated elephant event where your business stops. With stocktake software, the perpetual inventory counts keep your stock levels accurate and does not need your business to stop.