Top 5 Mistakes in Performing Physical Inventory

1.       Not Utilizing Technology

Performing a physical inventory manually is prone to error and inefficient. Using advanced data capture (ADC) technologies such as bar coding and RFID reduce errors and significantly speed up the process. Mobile data capture tools are becoming less and less expensive. These tools allow you to scan bar codes and RFID tags, create pre-populated lists, and reconcile your data in real time.

2.       Using Inexperienced Personnel

Hiring temporary help or using internal resources that are not familiar with your equipment or physical inventory procedures can lead to inaccurate results and ultimately ending up costing you more than if you had outsourced the project to professionals. If you hire an outside firm, check references and make sure their inventory representatives know what they are doing.

3.       Not Clearly Defining Project Goals

Make sure you clearly define your goals prior to the start of the project. Identify all stakeholders and get their input. Changing your goals or requirements mid-project, especially when it involves additional work can be costly once inventory teams are deployed and conducting inventory.

This can be particularly costly if it involves backtracking and/or redoing things that have already been done. Identify what kinds of assets you need to track, what data you need collected, and how you are going to use it before the inventory starts.

4.       Not Setting A Realistic Timeline

Set a realistic timeline. Chances are the project schedule will be tentative. It has to be. There are too many environmental conditions that can sway the actual completion time. That being said, taking too long to complete an inventory can cause issues. A physical inventory is meant to be a snapshot in time.

Assets are moving, your environment is changing, and the department you finished last week can look very different by next week and certainly by next month. The same can be said for not allowing enough time. Significant delays can be problematic for the end-user as well as impact the end result.

5.       Not Sustaining Results

Implement the tools and processes necessary to sustain the results prior to starting the inventory. As previously mentioned, your environment is changing. Have the means to account for those changes. New equipment is coming in, old equipment is leaving, and deployed assets move.

Organizations that consistently track and manage their assets recognize a variety of benefits, including fewer headaches during next year’s inventory.

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