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Help! My Inventory Spreadsheet Is Out of Control

by Sebastian Barclay-Graham, APAC Sales Team Leader
Have you been relying on spreadsheets to manage your inventory? Even if you’re an Excel guru, you may be creating a monster that, eventually, neither you nor your team will be able to tame.

One of the most common things we see at Cin7 is companies that use spreadsheets to run their business. They come to us when they realize that as far as inventory goes, using a spreadsheet is a time-consuming and costly way to do business. 

Why, you ask? A spreadsheet is only as good as you make it. And if you’re honest, you’ll admit that you’re just not as good at making a spreadsheet work as you think you are. 

But this isn’t really about you. Even if you’re a whiz with formulas and macros, spreadsheets are still notorious for crashing and losing data. Then there’s the maintenance and staff training required to keep those spreadsheets going, even after the resident Excel guru has left the building. If the only person who knows how the spreadsheets work goes on holiday or leaves the company, all hell can and will break loose.

Google and Microsoft have made it very easy to get into the spreadsheet habit, which helps a lot of product companies get off the ground. At some point, however, spreadsheets become unreliable and too difficult to maintain. If this is how you’re managing inventory, you may already see the warning signs that your spreadsheets are spinning out of control.

3 Ways Your Spreadsheet Habit Is Hurting Your Business

Companies that start to taste success experience severe growing pains if they continue to use spreadsheets. What once was a speedy solution for managing inventory and fulfilling orders becomes a barrier to sustainable growth. Do you have an inventory spreadsheet habit? Check for any or all of these common symptoms:

1. You Waste Hours Typing
As you grow, you spend more time on data entry and less time on important work. This is because inventory spreadsheets require manual journaling in and out. A business can get by doing this when it has a small product range, but more products add up to hours better spent developing your brand, your products or your customer base.

2. You Keep Losing Data
You lose data because your software keeps crashing, which happens over and over again for two main reasons:

  • Your software is overwhelmed by the complex formulas that run every time you enter data.
  • Multiple staff members access your spreadsheet at the same time. 

3. Your Numbers Stop Adding Up
Spreadsheets are famously error-prone. Someone can enter the wrong information about an order—quantity, price, name—or neglect to enter data as required. As orders and inventory accumulate, the risk that your spreadsheets are simply wrong goes up. You’ll end up with missing inventory, and it will take a lot of time to reconcile your spreadsheets with the stock you actually have on hand in your store or warehouse.

It’s Time to Get Help

The best way to break the spreadsheet habit is to switch to a system that doesn’t need you to sit at your computer all day, typing. While there’s an entire software category built to address these very issues, not all inventory management solutions are created equal. Choosing inventory software that can integrate your locations and sales channels and automate your workflows will see you through your growing pains while sparing you all the time and grief that spreadsheets typically cause.

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