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Trusting the data in your business is crucial to optimizing inventory

Do you trust the data in your inventory solution to place the right orders?

You may wonder what the connection is between trust and an inventory management software solution. In our experience, one of the main challenges businesses face when investing in new software is trusting the results that processing the data provides. This lack of trust often influences why businesses fail at adopting new software.

While many businesses acknowledge the need to invest in inventory management solutions to provide inventory visibility, many are still reluctant to trust the inventory data in the software.

According to a recent post by talend.com, “Data health research conducted in 2021 shows that 60% of business executives don’t always trust their company’s data. More than a third still don’t base most of their decisions on data. This is a crisis for organizations across industries worldwide.”

Before implementing new inventory management software, it’s vital to consider:

  1. What processes do you need to have in place?
  2. Who are the right team members you need to help champion the process?

Here’s some practical steps to help your team to fully understand, use, and, most importantly, trust the data:  

#1. You need to have the right processes in place.

Respect that your team will be loyal to existing systems. The users of existing systems will have a sense of loyalty, and that is normal as users are familiar with these systems and they provide a sense of comfort. We come across many businesses still managing their inventory through spreadsheets or other legacy systems and often challenge business leaders as to whether  these systems are best suited to  optimize inventory.

Cloudsoft.io states, “just because a technology is no longer being upgraded does not necessarily mean that it is no longer viable; what really matters is whether a legacy system can deliver on cost, security, agility, reliability and performance efficiency as well as a newer system or technology.”

Ask yourself: How will your business respond to supply chain disruptions, working on systems that can’t provide accurate data, to make quick decisions to improve inventory planning?

New software and your existing ERP system. Suppose you are considering implementing new software to work in conjunction with your ERP. It’s tempting to keep both systems running in parallel rather than understand what controls you need to build into the new system / tool to ensure completeness and accuracy. You don’t want your users coming across a challenge in the new software, and instead of working through these, they become discouraged and revert to the old, familiar system. As you empower  them to work through an issue on the new system, it will enable you to build trust in the new system without keeping the old system going as an anchor. An essential aspect of allowing this transfer of trust is to take the guesswork out of inventory orders by linking inventory objectives to daily transactions in an understandable way.

The entire business is a system built on trust. The shareholders appoint a board of directors to look after the financials and effective running of the business to ensure they receive the maximum investment. The directors, in turn, appoint an executive team to run the business successfully and are entrusted to make sure the members of the team they employ have the right skills and tools to carry out their roles.

The key challenge is that busy people often don’t have time to learn new tools and prefer to use what they know – no matter how laborious and ineffective they are.

How the management team can help encourage the transfer of trust. Management should be proactive and play a change management role to build up the trust of supply chain data.  Users don’t often queue up to learn a new system, but they want to know two things:

  1. Why do I need to use the new system?
  2. How will this new system help with my role?

If the adoption of new software is to optimize your inventory, management should clarify why the software is being implemented and what the benefits are. This communication between management and the operational teams builds even more trust and encourage greater team alignment.

The learning process for new systems. If users know that management is fully aligned with what they want them to learn, and management can monitor, address and assess each user’s level of competency, this makes all the difference to the learning outcome.

People often attend training yet learn nothing! However, when a user knows that there is an assessment at the end of the learning process, they put in more effort, contributing to a successful learning outcome. By having assessments, management can quickly identify areas where users need further training and can help them to fill the learning gaps. As long as those assessments are used in an encouraging, positive way, this will go towards building more trust.

#2 You need the right team in place

Employing people. Start by hiring people who are competent to do what you need them to do. Provide continuous training and guidance to build on their competencies.

Training and onboarding processes. Design your training process to help users assess whether they’re doing it righ?  For example, if the recommended order is incorrect, by training users to understand the calculations behind that recommended order and teaching them which inputs to review to correct it, you have empowered your people to be a lot more constructive. The possibility of users wanting to go back to the old way of doing things becomes a lot less likely.  All users must learn and understand the benefit of correcting the input factor. If you see they can solve the problem at the source, you will trust them to place orders aligned with the business’s goals.

Be open to continuous learning and improvement. Successful inventory management is a process where employees need to be open to continuous learning and ready to adapt to the ever-changing conditions in the supply chain.

Implement a support team in your business. From a support and learning aspect, stretch your users to attempt to resolve their issues before asking for support. If there is a “super-user” who provides immediate answers to every question team members learn less than they would by engaging with the system more actively themselves. Remember that the best way to learn a new application is to use it!

Besides the robust features in the product, I have found Netstock’s e-learning platform and online training materials to be far superior to any other software application that I have dealt with in the past. Taylan Sevimli, Business Development Manager at Tayse Rugs

Need advice about implementing inventory management software in your business?

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