still using excel for your inventory management?

5 signs you need to break up with Excel and find inventory management software

In the first few years of running a company, it makes perfect sense to keep your limited amount of inventory data in an excel spreadsheet. Excel is a great program for tracking simple inventory data like name, SKU, price, quantity in stock, and quantity sold. During these early days, excel was a good fit for your business. It kept track of your inventory data and allowed you to perform basic calculations within its spreadsheets, but now you have probably begun to outgrow its basic capabilities.
Since then your business has grown and you may have noticed times in which excel falls short of being intuitive and useful. When this becomes true, it's maybe a good time to break up with your excel spreadsheets and start seeking the companionship of a real inventory management system that can treat your maturing company with the complexity and integration it deserves. Every business goes through growth and update cycles and here are five clear signs that it's time to move on from excel.

1) Your Excel file has too many records

It's practical for start-ups to begin with a small number of inventory items and track finite numbers carefully to see how well items are selling and in what direction they should expand. At this stage, almost any organized tracking system was sufficient to manage your small but growing inventory. However, as time passes and your entries grow in both number and size, an excel file can quickly become bloated to the point of unusable. When it takes your computer more than half a minute to load an excel inventory file or you need to scroll through hundreds of entries, it may be time to find a real business solution.

2) A single Excel file or spreadsheet just isn't enough

Studies have found that the vast majority of business spreadsheets over 150 entries contain errors.
How much data are you trying to track on a simple spreadsheet program? After even a year or two of inventory data from your growing company, you have probably tried to tidy the bloating document by dividing it based on location, lines of products, and fiscal year but this only complicates your process. Once you need multiple excel files and individual spreadsheets just to track your inventory data, there's reason to believe that you are outgrowing your original start-up tools. Excel can easily become cumbersome and tedious to navigate when you need information from more than one file or sheet at a time.

3) There are frequent errors in your inventory tracking

Selling and replacing items in quick cycles involving hundreds if not thousands of transactions is fantastic for your business but terrible for manual data entry. During the early months of running your business, you probably excitedly entered every single sale into your excel spreadsheet with pride. While you may still feel that pride with every sale, there is a 90% chance that your spreadsheets contain potentially dangerous errors. Studies have found that the vast majority of business spreadsheets over 150 entries contain errors, so it is very likely that you have been experiencing inventory mistakes due to outdated or inaccurate entries. It's time for a more comprehensive solution.

4) Multiple employees need access to inventory data

Excel is a lot of things, but it's not easily shared. When you have grown enough to hire more than one employee who accesses, manages, and works with your inventory data, dynamic online software is the natural answer. This is especially true if you are in need of multiple authorized employee logins with different permissions, version control, and you want to ensure that employees don't have an insight into all your inventory data. These features aren't offered by Excel, but they do exist in real inventory management systems.

5) Your business has grown too complex for Excel tracking

An excel spreadsheet can only effectively track a small number of items and functions. If you not only have lists of items and stock numbers but are also tracking when and where items are ordered and shipped to, you're already exceeding the program's intended uses. Throw in customer information, shipping routes, and the names of employees in charge of each step and it's no wonder if data is slipping through the cracks.
It's always exciting when a company you've nurtured since start-up begins to grow into a truly thriving young business, but it's not always easy for busy founders to keep up with the pace of their own growth. No doubt excel has served you well in the past, and it will always be great for sketching out ideas, but when your inventory outgrows the first spreadsheet and business exceeds the complexity of a single table, it's time to seek out a real inventory management system.