Tracking your inventory can be a difficult and time-consuming task for any business. However, it is an essential one, as if you don't know the status of your inventory throughout your entire business, you could easily be setting up big problems down the line. You need to know what stock you have in at any given time, when the next orders are coming in or going out, and whether you'll have the space and staff to deal with what will be passing through your business.
While businesses have taken many steps to control and monitor their inventory of stock and goods, they often don't take the same care over goods that are only used internally. Keeping track of inventory has led to the creation of entire technologies, but has anyone ever devoted the same attention to keeping track of office supplies? It may sound like a strange question, but expenditure on these products - stationery, ink, computer hardware, chairs and many other common items - can be a large percentage of a company's outgoings, yet after ordering they're often completely forgotten about, with no one bothering to take the time to monitor them and see how and where they're being used.
Just like your sales inventory, these are a valuable asset that you've invested large amounts of money in. While they're essential goods that are necessary to run a successful business, that doesn't mean you can't take the time to see whether any money is being wasted in this area. If you discovered that ten percent of your sales inventory wasn't being used for its intended purpose you'd take steps to correct that problem, and the same rules should apply for products used within the business.
Every business can making savings on their office supplies if they take simple steps to keep track of what's happening with them, from ordering, through use and even in their disposal.
First, make sure you have an efficient ordering process. Don't just leave it to staff to order products as and when they need them. Centralise the process, put one person in charge of it and let them see what discounts they can achieve in ordering. This will also allow you to see who orders and use the most.
Next, use a central point for distributing these products to allow you to keep track of where they're going and who's using what. In the same way that you wouldn't just let people take your products out of the warehouse without taking responsibility for them, you should expect people to sign up for what they've taken and give reasons as to why they need it. This helps you keep track of who's using what.
Finally, make sure that people are using products efficiently. Are they throwing things away before they're completely used up? Perhaps they're disposing of used printer cartridges when they could be recycling them, or throwing away old printer paper that could be used for note-taking or messages.
Keeping track of all products is an essential tool for all businesses, and you should make sure you do it throughout your business, not just with your sales inventory.