Hopefully before you set out on your very first cycle count you have already considered all of the ups and downs that the process has to offer. Spending plenty of time considering your options during the development phase is key to launching a process that really saves you time and money. Here are four great tips for developing a strong cycle counting program for any business.
- Decide Why You're Making the Switch - We've talked extensively about the importance of setting measurable, attainable goals in the past, but at the heart of those goals is the answer to this question. Why did you decide that now is the right time to make the move to cycle counting? Whether it's cost savings or scalability, you need to be sure that your new program actually solves the problem for you.
- Commit To Learning Everything You Can - While there are some standardized systems for conducting cycle counting, the truth is that each organization implements the system a little differently. The best thing you can do is commit to reading everything you can about the various cycle counting structures, and developing a deep understanding of how each one would help or hurt your company. Cycle counting is not a stagnant procedure.
- Appoint a Leader - The idea of having your existing staff pick up a handful of counts each day on top of their regular responsibilities sounds nice. Ideally you could have your entire inventory done and up to date without adding more labor. In reality, you need a full time staff member in charge of cycle counting. There will be accuracy errors to investigate, system problems to troubleshoot, and days when your regular staff just can't get it all done. Appointing a dedicated leader over your inventory program will ensure that it gets off the ground and runs smoothly.
- Do More Than the Minimum - In an effort to cut labor costs, many companies find that they are able to get by with only a few counts each day. However, the very reason you chose to make the transition to cycle counting is to improve your inventory and service. Doing the bare minimum number of counts won't improve your overall accuracy or speed as much as may be possible with a more robust effort. You should aim to find the maximum number of counts you can achieve without having to drastically change your staffing. The more counts you do, the fewer gaps you will have in your inventory and the better data you will have available year round.
Investing in a robust cycle counting program means more than just installing software and handing out a few inventory sheets each day. You need to be prepared to grow and learn with the system. You also need to give some thought to how you are going to manage growth, and who will lead your team through the tough spots in the program.