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Inventory Data Optimization for Your Business

2/20/19
Grainger Editorial Staff

You have a well established inventory management system with a plan, clear leadership and a handle on data. By now, you make calculated, data-driven decisions about inventory and have a complete understanding of stock and demand. Overstock and messy supply closets are a thing of the past.

Still, who couldn’t use some help? Your system can always get better, and your team could use more defined data to drive new insights. Procurement is likely growing, but lacks certain expertise to get control over suppliers and business intelligence. To meet the potential of your data management program, you will need to start to consider ways to continually improve inventory management processes, better manage data at scale and get outside help.

How to Get Better

Continuous Improvement: With the demands of your business constantly evolving, the single most important thing that your organization can do at this stage is to continually improve. Continuous improvement models like 5S are the backbone of many industrial operations, and apply to inventory management. Only by finding new opportunities to improve your system can you realize more benefit from your process. As your inventory management system continues to evolve, you will discover opportunities to change to how you order and manage inventory, issue and track product and position your team for success.

Make learning part of your inventory management system, and use data to glean new insights from your operations. Create a system to integrate these learnings into your process to test and ultimately benefit from them. Data should guide many of these decisions, as you discover new problems to solve and find gaps in your process.

Reaching a Leveraged inventory management system can also lead to complacency that puts your system at risk. By not continually improving your process and looking for ways to get better, you risk the entire system falling behind your business.

Leverage Data: By this stage, collecting data is not a problem. Data across purchasing, inventory and behavior is tracked and kept clean. But are you using the data to gain insights?

Your organization should look to analyze the data you have to understand where your process can improve and to anticipate resource need. Start by defining key metrics for improving your operations, including inventory turnover rates and critical spares. Your data should be used with predictive analytics to show where and how inventory management should adapt for demand during emergencies or as new products launch. Depending on how much data you collect, big data solutions may be required to truly understand your operations. Consider adding more dedicated business intelligence help from vendors or partners.

As you continue to evolve your process, you must also avoid letting data become corrupted or compromised. Ensure that new inventory or changes to measurements are well-planned and integrated into your data model, so that “junk” data does not replace your source of insights.

Use Outside Resources: Your team cannot do it alone. Even with a robust system and good data, you need help to scale and ensure that the inputs and outputs of your inventory management system are controlled. Look to outside vendors like Grainger to help you control the supply chain and use your data to get more predictive about the results. Before hiring dedicated team members and expanding staff to continue to grow your inventory management program, consider third-party vendors as a cost-effective force multiplier.

Outside resources are also crucial in helping your organization discover new and better ways to optimize your process. Consulting can reveal new processes or technologies that will change how you manage inventory. If you only rely on the existing team, you can miss insights and learning and put your system at risk.

Learn how to use data to get even more out of your inventory. Find out how you can best leverage data to refine your inventory management plan moving forward. Call your Grainger Representative or call 1-888-753-0019 to learn more.

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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