Tech It Easy

Stock-taking, what a headache!!


30 November 2021

We are fast-approaching the end of year and inevitably so, the annual headache of stock-taking. Every year we vouch to do better next year , yet every year we fail to achieve a simple target - that of improving this yearly routine.

But hold on, should it be a yearly routine in the first place? Are we that certain that this is the right way of holding a stock-take? Just lately I discussing with a client of ours whose warehouse is super-organised. Yet they face three key challenges:

  • The stock list is huge, running into thousands

  • The warehouse simply never closes down, being weekend or festive period, it has to be operational

  • Some of the items are huge and very different to move around, whilst others are so small that it will take ages to count

These three problems are definitely not peculiar to this client and are actually the very same issues faced by most businesses. The usual answer is to close down the warehouse for a number of days, practically stalling the stock movement and for some clients this is done at a significant loss of revenue.

We do not have the right answers but we have come up with a number of arguments that we hope will actually make us re-think the annual stock-take in its entirety and possibly shift to cycle counting.

Starting off with the basics, what is cycle counting? It is simply the organising of the stock within the company to ensure that all the stock is counted at least once – ideally more than that – within a year. The best part is that these cycle counting rounds, are spread throughout the year. In simple terms a few stock items are counted every so often rather than counting all the stock at one go.

One key aspect is that this may not be as simple as one may presume. There are some factors which we need to consider such as:

  • The stock which requires specific machinery for stock-take should be organised within the same groups to avoid extra machinery costs.

  • A very well-organised stock list or software is mandatory to ensure continuity and completeness

  • A high level of communication with the stock personnel is necessary to avoid creating bottlenecks and missing on stock-take routines.

  • Stock with high-level of turnaround should be flagged and planned properly to lessen the inconvenience

  • A procedure should be set and maintained to avoid inaccurate results.

The check-list can be never ending, but ultimately it all boils down to being organised and having the right tools at hand. The latter may potentially be the trickiest part as we need to take into consideration not just the stock management at head-office but also the stock-take aspect within the warehouse. A question to ponder about, is whether any hand-held devices will be required to ensure completeness and effectiveness. However as there is no straight-forward answer we’ll be addressing this matter in the next Tech-it easy. Stay tuned!

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