From Dread to Delight: 3 Stock Take Mistakes to Avoid
It’s that dreaded time of year again. Your team is already groaning in anticipation of several long, tedious days counting—and trying to find—inventory during your annual stock take. While this task is time consuming and costly, it is critical to help maintain inventory accuracy and prevent stockouts or overstock.
So, how can you reduce disruption and take the dread out of your stock take this year? Learn from the mistakes of others. Check out three of the most common stock take mistakes and how to prevent them from happening in your SYSPRO warehouse.
Mistake #1: Lack of Planning
It’s no secret that proper planning prevents poor performance—particularly for stock takes. Performing a stock take requires the coordination of people, time, and resources. Without a clear plan, you run the risk of a costly, inefficient process that leads to inaccurate results. Here are some planning mistakes we’ve seen our customers make:
Choosing the wrong staff to perform the stock take
Customers frequently use additional staff from around the organization to help with their annual stock take. While this allows for more hands-on-deck to help the stock take to be performed quicker, it takes them away from their primary responsibilities. Additionally, they are not always the right people for the job. Often, not having the right experience about inventory items or the warehouse can lead to more mistakes than it’s worth. If your warehouse has a large inventory that takes a considerable amount of time to count, it could be more cost-effective to hire temporary employees, ensuring work gets done as scheduled. Plus, it helps prevent productivity losses and the hidden costs of overtime.
Some software solutions, like riteSCAN Mobile Warehouse for SYSPRO, offer temporary licenses to help perform the physical count. This allows you to get more people on the floor and shorten the disruption in your organization. So, analyze who to pick for the stock take team based on their knowledge, attention to detail, role in the organization, and their respective wages plus any applicable overtime pay.
Not taking time to train employees
Proper employee training—before you start the stock take—is a key step that is frequently skipped due to time constraints. Unfortunately, missing this step slows down the process. Previously, one of our customers didn’t set aside enough time to train the team or walk through some test examples ahead of time. As a result, several of the employees were not familiar enough with the product differences, stock locations, and the units of measure. As a result, it led to numerous miscounted stock codes and quantity discrepancies that needed to be reviewed and fixed by the supervisors.
Save time and reduce future headaches. Train your employees before you start counting to ensure efficiency and count accuracy. Make sure your training includes the following:
- Key product differences
- The proper counting method
- “What to do if” scenarios
- Quick reference guides
- “Go to” person/ people when issues arise
Carefully pick the date and select the right team members to perform the physical count. Build in sufficient time to train your team. It will really pay off overall.
Mistake #2: Relying on Paper Processes
Before automating their warehouses, many of our customers would write counts on paper tickets for their stock takes. Unfortunately, this can lead to errors in two ways. First, it’s easy to write down the wrong stock codes, Lot Number, or transpose numbers. Second, when it comes time to enter the data into SYSPRO, data entry errors often occur due to illegible handwriting or keying mistakes. No matter how meticulous you think the team is, human error cannot be avoided. Additionally, paper processes create a data lag that makes it harder to reconcile inventory counts and identify where the errors occurred after the fact. Our customers often say that chasing down errors is difficult and time consuming. This is often because the person who originally counted a specific stock code has already moved on to another area to count and cannot remember what was originally counted or written down by the time the supervisor enters the data.
Barcode scans help prevent these issues. An automated warehouse management system, like riteSCAN, validates that the correct stock code is being counted. Plus, you can see the counts in real time as the stock take progresses in SYSPRO. This means that if there is an error with the user of not counting the right location; Stock Code; or Lot number, the system will catch the error at the point when they are performing the count. Automation lets you do more with less people and helps simplify the stock take process, reducing the risk of manual errors.
Mistake #3: Inconsistent or No Labeling
Proper labeling is a critical step to good inventory management and an efficient stock take. Prior to implementing riteSCAN, many of our customers struggle with labeling products consistently. Having the correct pieces of data barcoded to streamline the scanning process during the stock take is a key factor. For example, sometimes our customers prefer using supplier labels within their inventory rather than labeling their products with their own label. During the stock take process, this causes a multitude of issues later. As users are performing counts on the floor, they do not always know what pieces of data to use for what because each supplier’s label can be different with distinct pieces of data. Our customers must often decipher whether a label is the supplier’s stock code data or their own stock code data. Having consistent labels and data that is barcoded allows users to quickly know what pieces of data is required. When going from product to product, it also allows users to scan this data into the system with a single scan and on a consistent basis. Not having ALL of your items labeled and barcoded consistently leads to a lot of wasted time.
The most crucial step you can take to achieve a more accurate inventory and stock take process is to consistently label your warehouse and inventory. If you have not barcode labeled your inventory yet, here are the steps to help you get started:
- Define the data that is required for your labels: The first step in the process is to determine what you want on your labels to accurately identify stock and perform inventory movements or pick orders for customers. (e.g., stock code, stock code description, lot number, quantity, etc.). Do this right away in order to make the remaining barcoding steps more seamless.
- Create the label format: Next, create standard barcode label formats based on your operational needs. Think about how you want the data organized on the label; the size required; and the type of label needed. The format is typically dependent on what you are labeling such as metal, food, electronics, pallets, bins, etc.
- Develop a standard label process: Now that you’ve decided on your label format, the next step is to develop a standard process of how and when to label your inventory. If you have not labeled your inventory yet, there are several options to consider:
- Tie your relabel process with your stock take.
- Label existing stock items in batches.
- Label new items as they are replenished and received into inventory.
Start labeling: Once you have defined a standard process for labeling inventory, define process points within your organization. Know how products are going to be labeled or relabeled in the future. Don’t forget to label locations and bins within your warehouse, especially if you are using multiple bins in SYSPRO.
A successful stock take in your warehouse
Running a successful stock take takes time, proper planning, and dedication. If done correctly, your organization could really reap the benefits. So, what could a successful stock take look like in your warehouse? Before implementing riteSCAN, it took one of our customers 3-4 days with approximately 40 employees to complete their annual inventory. After utilizing riteSCAN; incorporating consistent labeling; and using barcode scans, it now takes them 1-2 days with only 6 employees to complete their stock take.
Sick of stopping operations for an extended period?
Cycle counting is the end goal for many warehouses. It can be much more efficient to perform inventory checks throughout the year instead of stopping operations for an extended period to count stock annually. Some other benefits of cycle counts are they can be less disruptive to daily operations and less time-consuming. Additionally, errors are more easily discovered with less time between checks.
A few simple process changes can take the dread out of your next stock take or cycle count. Watch the video to see how easy it is to perform your next stock take with riteSCAN and SYSPRO.