No matter what type of inventory management system your business implements, the most crucial aspect of managing inventory is training your employees properly from the start. By ensuring your whole team receives excellent inventory management training, your business can save time, money, and stress—both today and down the road.
This article will cover how to train your team to practice optimal inventory management. Inventory management training can help get every team member on the same page, even if you use inventory software that simplifies your inventory management. Here are three simple rules for training your employees on inventory.
1. Pick an inventory solution your team can stick with
Before you can train your employees on inventory, you need to select an inventory system. You can decide what that system looks like for you: a sheet of paper, an inventory spreadsheet, or an inventory software solution (like Sortly). Most businesses don’t need a super complex solution to inventory management. Instead, they need an intuitive, flexible system that works for their team.
Each system has its pros and cons. A basic inventory list is free, simple, and straightforward enough that anyone on your team can use it. But once you track more than a few dozen items, or do more complex tasks like reviewing inventory numbers remotely or combing through past records, a list falls short quickly.
Inventory spreadsheets, which are certainly a step up from manual inventory lists, are a good option, but there are better solutions. They are prone to human error, corruptible, and struggle to showcase images, documentation, and other attachments your team may need to manage inventory properly.
An inventory app is usually considered the optimal inventory management option because it offers the best parts of manual and spreadsheet inventory systems. Apps like Sortly are easy to use, offer free or low-cost versions, and allow you to effortlessly add images, attachments, and even barcodes and QR codes to your inventory list. Sortly also offers powerful automation features like in-app barcode and QR code scanning, low stock alerts, and customizable reports.
If you choose inventory management software, ensure you pick an app that’s flexible, user-friendly, customizable, visual, and works on devices you own, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers. This is especially important if you are looking to streamline inventory management training efforts.
That’s because apps like Sortly are designed for all types of employees—not just inventory specialists. There’s no in-depth training required, and all you need to do is ensure the right employees have Sortly installed on their mobile device or tablet. Once they do, they’ve got everything they need to add new items, move inventory between folders, scan barcodes, search for data, and more.
2. Create a standard operating procedure
Regardless of what inventory management system you choose for your business, you’ll need to codify your inventory management strategy. Usually, businesses do this by creating a standard operating procedure, or an SOP, that outlines exactly how the company stores, tracks, reorders and restocks inventory.
If you haven’t created this document already, do so now. And remember, maintaining an SOP is a team effort. Ensure voices from all across your business—from accounting to warehouse to management—come together to create a plan that works.
3. Offer training and training refreshes
Once you’ve selected an inventory management system and created an SOP to support that strategy, it’s time to start training your employees to maintain the system. Everyone learns differently, which is why we recommend covering all your bases when it comes to types of training. Learning inventory procedures in a few different ways can help also re-enforce the correct way of doing things.
1. Set up an initial training session for the group
Set aside time to review the inventory management system and process with your team, including new hires. Limit your initial training session to no more than 60 minutes in order to help your team best retain knowledge. You may also want to put some key tenets of the training in writing.
Ensure your team knows how to update inventory in your system, how to order inventory, and how to audit inventory. Certain key employees may also need to know critical inventory calculations like safety stock and reorder point.
2. Offer one-on-one training
Group training is an important first step, but one-on-one training can also be beneficial for some employees. Offer one-on-one inventory training with your team that they can opt into if they need it. You can designate other senior employees to conduct one-on-one training as well. This could be as simple as a 20-minute session where the employee gets their questions answered or gets a quick run-through of the system and procedure.
3. Help employees learn on the job
You’ll also need to offer on-the-job inventory training. It’s one thing to provide a workshop on inventory management and another to show employees how tracking inventory works in real life. By slowing down everyday inventory processes like counting inventory, scanning barcodes, or updating inventory levels so that new employees can learn the ropes, you’ll likely notice the newest additions to your team are getting the hang of your inventory strategy more rapidly than ever before.
The Sortly app is super simple for employees to learn on the job—it’s intuitive and accessible right from their mobile phone.
4. Document and re-train
Keep in mind that training your team isn’t a one-time occurrence. Like any other skill, inventory management is a long-term project, and things fall by the wayside. To ensure your employees’ inventory management skills stay sharp, create a documented plan to retrain your team and refresh their knowledge. You may want to offer refresher trainings monthly, quarterly, or annually. Spot checks and SOP audits can help with this, too.
Remember, as your business changes and your team gets better at managing inventory, your strategy may change, and that’s a good thing. So ensure that if and when it does, you update your SOP and retrain your employees as necessary.
Sortly is a top-rated inventory management software solution that allows businesses to create a strong visual record of their inventory, even if that inventory is spread out across multiple locations. With time-saving features like barcode and QR code scanning, the ability to create customized barcodes and QR codes for unlabeled stock, alerts, and warnings for changes in inventory levels or item status, and so much more, there’s no shortage of ways an app like Sortly can help your business grow more profitable and more productive.
Ready to see how Sortly can help your whole team inventory smarter? Try Sortly free for two weeks.