Business runs on data. Accurate sales numbers and inventory levels are critical to keeping your company running efficiently and profitably. But raw data is not the whole answer. Robust reporting that makes sense of your data will help you get the most out of your software. When conducted accurately and applied correctly, it's the key to strategic decision-making.
That said, many distribution and product-centric businesses struggle to achieve accurate reporting. This process is even more difficult for those that rely on manual processes to pull data, because the numbers involved leave ample opportunities for errors and missing details. And if your raw data isn't accurate to begin with, your time spent pulling and analyzing reports won't benefit anyone.
Let's look at some reporting red flags — indications that your system is due for an upgrade. You'll see how overcoming those obstacles will make all the difference in the success of your business strategy and goals.
Red flag #1 – Your inventory management leaves room for error
Have you noticed that your inventory management system allows frequent picking and packing errors? If your inventory management relies on manual processes, there's a good chance you deal with these errors on a regular basis, because no employee is perfect and mispicks are bound to happen.
Introducing: barcoding. Upgrading to a digital, barcode-based picking strategy automates your inventory management in a game-changing way, and eliminates potential for human error. No more wondering, "Is that a 7 or a 1?" on your orders, or sending the wrong item to your customers. Automated software solutions such as SalesPad by Cavallo
Your data will be inherently flawed if you have elevated levels of inaccurate orders. This misinformation also affects your restocking schedule, inventory availability, and overall profitability. Ultimately, you will have unused, unsold inventory gathering dust on your shelves. Worse still, you may realize you don't have the resources to meet your customers' demands. When you base critical business decisions around your inventory reports, they must be accurate and intelligible, and your raw data needs to be trustworthy.
Red flag #2 – Your reporting lacks intention
Your next step with reporting should involve goal-setting, and structuring your reports to align with and further your company's objectives. Running valuable reports is not a passive activity limited to your technology; it's a process that will constantly need to be revisited and tweaked. Reporting is one of your greatest tools for making strategic business decisions, but only if you're gathering data that informs the goals your company wants to reach. When your reports are on point, you'll have the numbers to guide your strategy.
Learn about your customers' purchasing trends, determine which products are best sellers, and track the busiest months. With reliable data, you can tailer your reports to reflect different metrics in your operation. Are you hoping to promote specific products with low sell rates? Are you looking to maintain high sales for in-demand products? Use your reports to develop a reliable restocking schedule or to inform how you market your products. The power and versatility of reporting are phenomenal, and your data is at the ready to be put to good use.
Red flag #3 – Your reporting lacks variety and versatility
Generating a variety of reports that vary in scope is the best way to cover all your reporting-related bases. Think of it as getting multiple opinions for each project. One report might suggest the best starting place, but running several is the key to gaining perspective. Making your reports as specific as possible is advisable, as doing so isolates your variable of interest and mitigates outside contributing factors.
However, this doesn't mean you should exclusively examine the primary details in any report. A bird's-eye-view gives helpful performance indicators too. To that end, Cavallo's
The importance of reporting
Faulty or non-existent reports waste time, money, and opportunity. Excellent reporting tools and a forward-looking strategy give you the most up-to-date picture of your company's health and how it changes over time. As your business grows and adapts, your reporting strategy should follow suit.
Learning which reporting strategies work best for your company's needs will take some time, but now is the time to start. If you have questions about how to make your reports work for you,
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