Mobile inventory applications with the QR code scanning capabilities make inventory management simple, efficient and affordable for any company. The traditional barcode scanning hardware is replaced with the smartphones that company employees already own and know how to use. Smartphones can seamlessly connect to the inventory management cloud backend, making real time inventory information accessible to the authorized personnel on demand from anywhere.
Any business with even moderate amount of inventory needs to manage it. The company must know how many inventory items it has on hand, what inventory has been used over time, what are the inventory usage trends, when it is time to re-order materials and supplies. The company must know where the assets are, who is having them, and when they are due back. There are a lot of software programs, of different complexity and cost, that help businesses automate asset and inventory management. Why than so many small businesses are still managing their inventory using spreadsheets?
One reason could be that until recently most inventory / asset management programs where very complicated, expensive, and required significant implementation time and resources. This type of inventory management programs simply did not work for the small businesses. This situation is changing now with the growing number of the web based inventory management systems. These inventory systems tend to be less complicated, less costly and are much faster to implement.
Still, even with the online inventory management systems there are several things that do not work very well.
Employee who enter inventory transaction or current asset status into a program must be located in the office in front of the computer, while in reality people who deal with inventory and assets are not in the office when inventory transactions take place. They are in the warehouse, on the truck, in the field servicing customers, on the factory floor, at the remote site. As a result, inventory transactions are never entered into the inventory management system on time.
Inventory transactions need to be entered manually, which requires extra time and introduces errors. And if an online inventory management software supports barcode scanning, there is an additional hardware cost - often much higher than the cost of the inventory software itself. Traditional barcode scanners need to be either attached to the computer, or be in the vicinity - which makes it impossible to enter an inventory transaction or an asset status at a remote job site.
It looks like these limitations make small businesses think that using spreadsheets for inventory management is as good as using a specialized inventory management software.
The modern cloud inventory management software with the mobile application and QR code / barcode scanning with a smartphone should change this thinking. This kind of inventory management software gives small businesses a tool to automate inventory management and asset tracking and make it work.
There are several key issues in inventory management / asset tracking process that are solved by using QR Codes / barcodes and mobile devices:
Employees in the field can now process inventory transactions or change asset status at the moment it happens, with one scan of QR code / barcode. The transaction immediately goes to the central database, and updated inventory status is available right away to all authorized devices (smartphones, tablets, computers in the office). Entries of inventory transactions are not delayed or forgotten.
Similarly, authorized company employees can access accurate inventory count or asset status in the field with one scan of QR code or barcode.
The company can benefit from QR code / barcode scanning for inventory and asset management. QR code / barcode scanning eliminates errors and speeds up processing of the inventory transactions, but without associated hardware cost. Employees can use smartphones, which they already have in their pockets, to process inventory and asset transactions - no extra hardware is required.
Unlike regular barcode scanners, smartphones can also include a form to select custom properties for the inventory transactions (for example, for which project or client the item was taken). This option makes it easy for the companies to adapt inventory management software to their business by creating custom fields to keep track of, and than including these custom fields in the reports.
Keeping these new opportunities in mind, it now makes sense for business of any size to abandon spreadsheets and try out modern inventory management software.