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7 Must-Have Features of a Stock Control System

July 13, 2021 | Read: 9 minutes

If you’re planning on using a stock control system, these are the features you must have!

Whether it turns out you’re unnecessarily stockpiling, finding inventory admin weighing staff down, or fed up with stock disappearing… well, it can be a nice reminder to know there’s a better way to manage stock.

But what exactly does that mean?

Below, we’ve made clear the main features of a stock control system that you need.

Whether you’re new in the market, or looking to upgrade your current stock control solution, you’ll know precisely what to look for as you shop around. 

Let’s dive in:

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7 Must-Have Features of a Stock Control System

1. Set appropriate authority levels

Structure provides order. Setting restrictions on what certain staff can and can’t do when using software, it ensures that wires aren’t crossed. This reduces mistakes—like duplicate orders—from occurring.

When using software, it can be tempting to give everyone access to manage their tasks.

Unrestricted access certainly can work, especially if you have 2-3 employees in total, it can actually be easier. 

However, if you have more than 5 individuals using your software, this sort of unrestricted access could get unwieldy; especially if training isn’t properly provided. It’s wise to establish levels of control that are designated to specific managers and leaders. 

As they say, “too many cooks spoil the broth” or perhaps: “too many plumbers twist the pipes”? 

Either way, when using software, delegating control is essential.

Without access levels, stock can become just as difficult to manage as if you were still using paper sheets

Setting authority levels can also help when it comes to training staff. It lets them more comfortably adjust to using new systems. That’s especially true if they’re new to your company. Besides, it takes time to learn how to use tools well. Staff won’t always be immediately familiar with how your business does things. Setting restrictions can help everyone better manage stock as a team. 

Importantly, authority levels can be fluid.

This means that you can begin by having the rigidity to function and learn, but the flexibility to adapt as people learn and the business grows. It also works on a practical level. For example, if a manager is off sick or away, then temporary control can be handed over and revoked later, if needs be.

Ultimately, by delegating control, your team members can more precisely manage the parts that are needed, but staff can still make requests. The business is always in control of orders, but less likely to experience expensive surprises.

2. Use a built-in barcode scanner

Stock control is an undeniably physical process.

You can order the parts you need online and get them delivered, but there’s always going to be the individual effort needed to log and add parts to a stock/inventory database. 

Barcode scanner linked as a key feature of a stock control system

On top of that, you then have to physically move them to the warehouse/storeroom/vans where they’ll eventually reside. While dedicated stock software won’t help you teleport the parts you need, having the means to speed up data entry can be a Godsend. That’s where barcode scanning comes in.

With a barcode scanner—like the image above, or one built into a mobile device—it will make stock control much easier to manage.

When you’re considering the essential features of a stock control system, barcode scanning is a top priority!

A major benefit of stock control barcode software is that you can build a digital library of your stock.

This library will only ever make data entry more efficient. When parts arrive from the supplier to your stockroom, the stockroom manager can handily scan and quickly log all the delivered parts in minutes. This way, they can compile data against stock-types you’ve already logged.

With barcode scanning, you can benefit from precise, real-time stock-level monitoring. No matter where parts are delivered (and where they eventually end up), it’s accessible for all to see.

3. Generate insightful analytics

With a clear database of parts, you stand to get a much better picture of what’s going in and out.

  • Time stamps can tell you when parts have been taken out.
  • Job notes can reveal what bookings they were used on. 
  • You can even work out which engineer handled them.

For instance: you might find that engineers taking care of specific jobs tend to travel from a particular area. However, it appears they’re travelling further to get stock than to actual jobs. That’s not efficient.

As a result of this inefficiency, time and money are being wasted.

However, by digging through the data, you can make an informed logistical decision and perhaps decide to house parts closer to them.

Digital tools like this can save engineers time and energy. They can even reserve an item for easy pickup. This ensures your business provides customers and staff alike with a much more efficient service, wherever they may be. 

A stock control system is essential to uncovering untapped potential.

With useful data, you’ll be able to drum up a clear picture of which parts you use most often. You can put in bulk orders for parts you know you need, (rather than best guesses.

Data ensures accuracy and that you never over-stock essential equipment. This makes it one of the best features of a stock control system.

4. Integrates with job management software

While spreadsheets improved upon paper-based systems, many businesses will still find themselves using them alongside other software. This sort of digital division makes it easy to make costly mistakes.

The alternative is all-in-one software. And software should be just that: all-in-one. Having a dedicated stock control system built into your software of choice, makes a whole lot of sense. 

By integrating data, you open your business up to a whole other level of increased efficiency.

As a result of simple data transfers that work in real time, teams can see all the information they need, when they need it. That means they can check job details, invoices, purchase orders, and more. It’s a case of working smarter, not harder, and much more efficiently.

5. Automatic supplier integration

A great feature of a stock control system is one that integrates with suppliers and vendors. These integrations can drastically improve how a business interacts with suppliers.

Understandably, you’ll be dealing with suppliers a lot when it comes to ordering parts and completing POs.

Obvious as that sounds, it’s precisely why you want these interactions to be accurate, informative, and straightforward.

If items are running low or if you’re completely out of stock, it’s a great choice to consider. These solutions can help your team easily raise purchase orders to your suppliers and get parts quickly.

In this way, by generating a PO automatically, heaps of time can be saved thanks to automation versus manual input.

You can ensure:

  • You never lack the parts you need for any job.
  • Admin gets done in a snap for items you need. 
  • Purchase order history makes it easy to see what you’ve bought and when.

Effective communication with suppliers is essential if you’re to maintain a great working relationship with them. Not only that but it helps you better understand cash flow and stay on top of finances. 

With a good workflow, you’ll be that much closer to ensuring no engineer is ever without the parts they need. Or that your business is haemorrhaging money. Teams can be more easily improve their first-time fix rate and lead to greater customer satisfaction, too. What’s not to like?

6. Cloud-based storage solutions

Being able to gain access to stock data on the go means your engineers can work wherever they are. On the road, or in their home office, they can track down the parts they need. 

With cloud software, you don’t need to wait!

More than ever, your team should have the power to work efficiently, wherever they are. And cloud-based software ensures that’s the case, which is especially great for time-sensitive work and urgent appointments.  

Need we say more?

7. Stockroom and van location tracking

Let’s face it, vans have a tendency to become mini-storage units. It’s just one of those things you keep saying you’ll get better at.

However, as soon as things get busy, the motivation goes out the window.

a van can be tracked as a virtual, moving stockroom

Once again: there’s a better way! 

Much like being able to access your database everywhere you go, having the option to track vans also means you can track the items stored in them. This can go a long way towards helping you stay organised, even when you’re slammed! 

Vehicle tracking is an excellent way to help you improve the way you schedule work. However, knowing that vans are also kitted out with essential inventory can be encouraging and improves job efficiency. Your engineers can rest easier and work faster knowing tools, spare parts, and more are only steps (not miles) away.

Explore the Best Stock Control System

With these seven essential features of a stock control system, you now know what to be on the lookout for. It’s important to take these steps and sure-up stock management in your field service business. 

Below, you can take a direct look at Commusoft’s very own Stock Control software and explore it as a solution for you own need.

Check it out below:

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I'm eager to tell compelling stories and share great advice that helps field service businesses to build on their success.

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