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Inventory Management System

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Words 1332
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Inventory Management Systems
Sean Reynolds
Ali Shaykhian, Ph,D
CIS 210
10/20/12

Automated inventory systems play a large role in today’s businesses, especially the retail industry. This is because businesses want the ability to access and organize data in a quick and efficient manner. With an automated inventory system, businesses can rely on computers to do tasks that were once performed manually, such as inventory checks and product sales. These tasks can be very overwhelming for businesses to do manually because of their size, number of stores, and their product diversity. This can all be changed, though. With automated inventory systems these processes can be handled in a timelier manner and also be more accurate and reliable than ever before. Since I would have had this conversation with a family member at dinner time I would more than likely have to have a further conversation later about what they would want as far as a system is concerned and what the budget was since there are a few ideas that come to mind about systems like that. I would have to ask them what they want to achieve with having the automated inventory system. I would also have to figure out what their budget is for it as there are different levels of systems depending on the budget of the company. The budget would have to include buying the system itself as well as the maintenance of the system.
One of the things that would be needed in the inventory management system is the software. This software must be able to track the inventory and appropriately order the needed materials as needed. One of the types of software I have been seeing is something called InFlow. It is a low budget inventory management system. It has tons of features for very little money and almost no maintenance costs. Before I get into that I will briefly describe what an inventory management system does. What an Automated Inventory System is, is that it is a specialized software that allows businesses to input their inventory and track the products that are delivered and sold. At the time of arrival the products are registered into the database and are added to the list of current inventory. They can track the depreciating inventory by using barcodes and scanners on all the products being sold. This is done with special software that instantly takes the product out of inventory at the point of sale or POS. With point of sales software, products are subtracted from the inventory count the moment they are sold instead of being deleted manually at a later time. This process allows data to be more accurate than the previous process because the business knows exactly how much inventory they have in stock at any given time. If the inventory becomes low, the business is notified by the system to order more inventory. Barcodes are the systems way of keeping track of all the inventory that comes and goes out of the warehouse or shipment area of the company. When inventory comes in it is scanned with a barcode scanner to let the system know that there is new inventory. When the goods go out they are scanned again to make sure the system knows that the goods are sold. It also keeps a count of how many have been sold for future ordering purposes. I found this software online that is good for small to medium sized businesses. It is called inflow and it has a lot of nice features. InFlow helps you track inventory, take customers’ orders, reorder stock, and it also will generate reports. It also can be used on many computers so if the company has several systems it will accommodate them all. It has a small user-base only 210,000 to date but from what I have seen it has great reviews.
InFlow can be connected either through a local LAN or over the internet with the latter taking a little bit more work to set up. They have a couple of different support options. One is using an online forum, but that is primarily for free users and the like. The other is in the form of a 1 year subscription to a support team provided by InFlow. They are also looking into in the future a way to renew the support subscription for a minimal yearly fee that has yet to be announced. Since this is a relatively new system they have yet to implement certain services but promise to have them online as soon as they can. I always like trying out new services like this because they tend to offer the best service for the dollar amount you would invest with a company.
The other part of the system is the barcode scanners. What they do is tell the system when something enters or leaves the inventory. They come in several styles and ill briefly outline them. There is the handheld version and there is a cabinet style that lays into a table. Then you would have to pull the product across the scanner to get the price as well as inventory count internally. As far as the handheld type of scanner there are USB, corded, and wireless scanners.
Depending on the budget of the company I would think that at least a couple of them would suffice for a small store. The larger table type scanner might also be implemented but in this application are not necessary.
I looked on the InFlow site for the cost of the software and there are 3 tiers of cost.
There is a free edition which speaks for itself its free. the features that come with the cost are the following. With the free version there is only 100 product limit that it will inventory. You get a usage of a maximum of 15 reports, and the multiuser mode is read only. When you buy the regular edition software you get the following features. You get usage of unlimited products and customers, a maximum of 24 reports, in the multiuser mode you get the read/write privilege, you also get access to separate user logins, and the ability to customize any documents that you create. You also get phone, email, and forum support for one year. All this in the regular edition package costs $299.00 per license. Then there is the premium edition, and with this edition you get the following: unlimited products & customers, all 29+ reports, multi-user mode: read & write, separate user logins, restrict access rights, bill of materials & work orders, count sheets customize document, phone, email, forum support. This service costs $499.00 per license.
Then of course there is the cost of the scanners and they range from fairly inexpensive to very expensive. For this particular project I think that a couple Symbol LS2208 type scanners should do the trick at a cost of $169.20 each.
I think that maintaining a system such as this would be very good for keeping the integrity of the inventory system. There are a few maintaining concerns that I would address with the client. The first is maintaining the computer system to keep it up to date as far as the software, especially with the constant product updates and patches due to it being a relatively new system there will indeed be a lot of updates. Making sure that the updates are completed in a timely and efficient manner as to keeping the system running properly is a must. The other concern is with the barcode scanners. They will have to be kept clean in order for them to be able to properly read the codes that the system needs to keep the inventory correctly. It also must be taken into account that frequent use makes them dirty and also something mechanical can happen. So making sure they are in tip top working order will also ensure that the system runs smoothly.…...

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