Global Procurement Application: Designing an Inventory Module
Every enterprise has a complex network of buyers and suppliers for procurement that needs to be coordinated in the most efficient way. Exadel has extensive experience in helping enterprises with this challenge, so we rolled up this experience in a solution, Global Procurement Application (GPA), that can be customized for any business. There is an extensive set of features available in this solution. In order to help people understand what GPA can do for them, we’ve decided to publish a series of posts on different aspects of GPA, starting with inventory management.
An inventory management module enables companies to effectively manage their goods, keep a reasonable amount of products in stock, and still be able to perform effectively (in terms of DIFOT or “Delivery in Full, On Time”). A more effective inventory management means a more profitable business.
A lot of thought and analysis went into the definition of GPA including the pivot requirements for effective inventory management—taking into account the most recent software technologies. Ideally, a modern inventory management solution should be able to address what’s happening in the present, as well as incorporating information from the past and projecting information in the future. Let’s look in each of these “directions” one at a time.
The Present: Real-time Inventory Management
This means the ability to see the precise snapshot picture of the stock at any given time. This type of capability enables immediate decisions and maintains optimal state and effectiveness for the supply chain. Specifically, this means:
- Users should be able to interact with each other when working with the stock
- The system needs to be accessible 24/7 anywhere with no maintenance efforts required for the end user
- Instead of making frequent stock counts, the solution should utilize as much real-time data as possible (for example from barcode scanners and POS terminals), but still allow stock counts when needed
- Extended search capabilities, including full-text and barcode search, item labeling, and flexible stock structure
- Inventory status that can be accessed from your desktop or mobile device.
The ideal approach for resolving these issues points to a cloud-based solution with dynamic updating of inventory levels. Inventory updates should be also possible from places without an internet connection (for example, basements and subterranean rooms or when a connection is temporarily lost) allowing the business to keep working without interruptions. Once the internet connection is available, the application should be able to submit all recorded stock updates and receive changes that have been done by other users.
The Past: Full Historical Data
While maintaining a simple and clear user experience, the system needs to maintain as much information as possible about:
- Stock movements
- Expiration dates of products
- Serial and lot numbers
- Price changes
This allows the system to build a precise real-time view of stock and utilize this data for analytics.
The Future: Analytics and Predictions
Effective decision-making is driven by data, including predicted data. A modern real-time inventory management system should be able to provide not only the current picture of stock but also predict the future demand for products. It should provide stock cover and stock turn metrics to see how long the stock can supply goods to fulfill orders and how effective the stock is.
Also, the system should allow seamless integration with external BI tools for more complex data analytics to meet business needs.
The GPA Inventory Module
Obviously, there is no single product that would suit every type of businesses for addressing these needs. Our approach was to build a solution that provides a product-like foundation to address the most common problems in procurement and specifically in inventory management. We then quickly and cost-effectively extend and adapt the solution to fit the needs of each business.
Stay tuned for more details of how Exadel realized these goals in the Inventory Module of the Exadel Global Procurement Application along with more notes on other aspects of the GPA.