Do your inventory management systems revolve around a series of manual processes that slow down ordering, shipping and receiving, and make it difficult to know what to order, when? Do managers find it difficult to maintain visibility into the many processes that comprise the inventory management lifecycle? Many businesses acknowledge the value in automating inventory processes, but creating and maintaining these solutions in-house is often too time consuming and costly. Business applications are increasingly growing in popularity as a quick and efficient way to automate more complex business needs like inventory management. Here are five ways that business processes can help make your organization’s inventory processes more efficient:
1. Streamlined inventory processes
There are a myriad of processes that comprise inventory management. Most organizations have some sort of system to keep an accurate count of inventory, but maintaining control of the full inventory lifecycle can be challenging without tools to help streamline processes, such as ordering, shipping, handling, accurate inventory forecasting, requisition approvals, knowledge of available warehouse space and budget management. Business applications can automate these different processes through forms and workflows that bridge users and systems to deliver the right information, to the right people, in a timely manner.
2.Faster authorizations and approvals
Inventory processes can easily stall when approvals are needed for material requisitions or expenses. Business applications can help speed up this process by making an approval as simple as a click of a button within an email. Business applications can also handle more complex workflow scenarios, such as a material requisition getting sent back to the submitter with a request for more information before being approved. Many business applications also come with mobile capabilities, so information can be accessed from any device, and work can be approved on the go.
3. Increased inventory process visibility
For inventory managers, maintaining visibility into all the different processes that are needed to effectively manage an organization’s flow of products can be challenging. Management dashboards, which some business app platforms come with, allow managers to view all of the different processes they manage in one interface. Custom reporting capabilities then provide managers with detailed information on workflows, from user involvement to the time it takes to move through any given step in a workflow. Escalation capabilities are also extremely valuable, alerting managers when a product is in danger of not getting shipped on time, which can lead to costly fines, while auditing capabilities allow managers to view past trends for more accurate forecasting.
4. Standardized practices and compliance across regions
Business apps facilitate compliance and standardization through business rules that can be added to ensure that policies and procedures are followed across regions. For example, if material requisitions need to be approved by a manager, a workflow can be set up so that the task is automatically routed to the manager for approval once the form is submitted. Or an expense claim approval hierarchy can be created so that one level of approval is needed for expenses under a certain amount, while anything over is simultaneously routed to a second manager for approval. These compliance protocols can be built to consistently align with regulations in each region.
5. Improved relations with customers and suppliers
Making your processes more efficient will not only benefit your organization, but also the clients and suppliers you work with. Manual processes are often inefficient and error prone, increasing the time for product deliveries, as well as the chance of costly mistakes being made, such as the wrong product or product quantity being ordered or shipped. When processes or inefficient, clients are more likely to look elsewhere for business, which is why a great service delivery model can improve the lives of both customers and employees.
Work smarter, build faster
K2 makes it easy to build your inventory management solution to fit your company’s needs through no-code visual tools that allow you build and deploy applications in minutes or hours instead of weeks and months, so you can start seeing immediate benefits. Once your inventory management solution is up and running, leverage your investment to automate other business processes, such as employee onboarding, expense claims, travel authorizations, and case management and compliance. Your business, your way. With K2, the possibilities are endless.
Check out this upcoming live webinar on May 20, 2015 or read about how JKM Industrial Supplies automated its inventory processes to see just how easily you can build out an inventory management app for your business. For more information on automating inventory management or other business processes, visit K2.com.