Introduction:

Statistics show that 1 out of every 2 businesses are not properly managing their inventory.

Sure, that may not be alarming by itself - after all, if half of all businesses neglect it, why shouldn't you do the same and save both company time and resources?

The real problem is that ignoring a proper inventory management process will actually lose you money. Considering that a large chunk of the estimated $1.1 trillion tied up in inventory management comes from the pitfalls of lost assets, inefficient delivery schedules and lack of correct setup, improving on your process could save you a lot of time, effort and resources in the long run.

That's where this checklist comes in; run it whenever you need to order new items (say, a big conference is coming up and you need to provide screens/projectors) and you'll save yourself a headache.

Whether you're systems admin responsible for setting up a new computer suite, an MSP company fulfilling a customer's order or just responsible for ordering new or replacement assets for internal use, your inventory management process needs to be watertight.

Let's get started!

Organizing your order:

Review your budget

Perhaps the most important task - as it determines how much ground you'll be able to cover with your order. It's good practice to start with this one, so that you make sure the rest of the planning is all within the scope of the budget.

Record your budget details in the form field below.

As well as budgeting, you'll also want to consider price changes to your usual stock. Refer to the master itinerary database and review any price changes in anticipation for the order.

If the order needs to be approved by a certain individual or department lead, then you'll need to confirm that with the form field below as well. 

  • 1
    Check for significant vendor price changes in anticipation of the order

Make a preliminary order list

First things first, you'll need to specify exactly what is being ordered. 

Once you have everything listed, you can check against current and surplus stock, then update this list for the final order.

Use the form field below to make a preliminary list of items needed.

  • 1
    Sales
  • 2
    Human resources
  • 3
    Information Security
  • 4
    Marketing
  • 5
    Other

Check the current stock inventory

With the preliminary list you made in the previous task, check your current and surplus stock levels for any items that might already be present.

If certain surplus supplies are low, you may want to consider updating them. Think about commonly used items, life-span and plan ahead accordingly.

We've outlined some sub-tasks for you to check off below.

  • 1
    Check current stock inventory
  • 2
    Check surplus stock

Update order list

Now that you've checked against the current supply list, you're ready to update your preliminary list.

Use the form fields below to flesh out the order and fill out some additional details before it gets placed.

  • 1
    Server computers
  • 2
    Monitors
  • 3
    Video conferencing equipment
  • 4
    Workstation computers
  • 5
    Cabling
  • 6
    Stationary
  • 7
    Computer components (CPU, GPU, RAM, storage, etc.)
  • 8
    Computer accessories (keyboard, mouse, headphones, etc.)
  • 9
    Software

Placing the order:

Receive approval for the order

It may be that you need the order approved by someone in finance or a similar department.

Not to worry - we've pre-populated this handy email widget below with details of your order so far, so all you need to do is check that the information listed is correct and hit "Sent".

Place the order

You're now set up to place the final order. Make sure any common vendors you deal with have all the regular stock; you may have to seek out an alternate supply source. 

Other than that, you should make sure to record information about each order placed, including price, which vendor, and how many of each item.

Make sure you keep an eye on any tracking numbers or order identification as you'll need that for the next task.

Follow the sub-checklist directions below and proceed.

  • 1
    Check against stock itinerary for common vendors
  • 2
    Check for alternate vendors within same price range
  • 3
    Place an order for each item accordingly
  • 4
    Make sure you receive confirmation for each order
  • 5
    Make a record of each order placed

Record order tracking details

Of course, you'll also want to keep hold of any order tracking information so that you can confirm everything arrived as it should have, and so that your back is covered should anything get lost in transit.

Sometimes, your order will be split into separate deliveries - you can edit the number of form fields to suit your exact needs, but we've provided five for contingency (only one is required).

Use the form fields in this task to record important order details.

Order arrivals and itinerary updates:

Make note of the order upon arrival

Simply put, once a shipment has been received by your company, ensure that it is recorded.

This isn't the same as updating your inventory management system, as it just confirms a shipment is received, not that the contents have been checked.

To make future management easier, be sure to factor the item into your organized filing system so that it can be easily accessed for internal use or later delivery.

  • 1
    Mark the order as received
  • 2
    Update filing system

Check everything arrived accordingly

For new arrivals, check everything is present as expected, as per the last order. If only 24 out of 30 of those new Chromebooks arrived, something went wrong somewhere and remedial action will have to be taken.

If everything looks good, move on to testing. Use the form fields below to record your findings.

Follow up with your supplier

Something hasn't arrived when it should have - so you need to get in touch with your supplier to figure out what went wrong. 

 Before you dive in all-guns-blazing, it's worth double checking you placed the order correctly before raising the issue with your supplier. It can't hurt - and sometimes accidents happen.

  • 1
    Check your order list
  • 2
    Check what was actually ordered
  • 3
    Be sure that both match up

Now that you're sure, you can get in touch with your supplier to let them know about the issue.

Luckily for you, most of the work here has already been done - as you'll see in the auto-populated email widget below. Just make sure all the correct information is there - and perhaps make some changes based on what you learned from checking your order list.

Once everything looks good, just hit "Send" and proceed with the checklist.

Test new items

Once you've set up the new item, you need to check that it is working fully by testing it.

To ensure that an item is working smoothly before you leave, perform tests based on the required functionality of the item in question.

For example, be certain that a new computer can link up to the required network (or, at least turn on), or that a projector is plugged in and displaying the desired image or screen correctly.

  • 1
    Check that all parts and components are present (refer to box)
  • 2
    Test that it functions as expected
  • 3
    Inspect the item for visible damage

Return faulty or damaged items

Damaged goods will have to be returned. This issue will need to be taken up with your supplier, and you may want to notify management and accounting.

We've done the heavy lifting here and pre-populated this email template with all the information about the order for you. Just double check all the information is accurate before hitting "Send".

Ensure new stock goes to the right department

This task is basically about getting the order to the place that requested it.

That might mean you're making sure yourself or triggering a predefined logistics protocol, but you need to make sure the everything is going to where it needs to be. 

Whether to the warehouse or straight into the office, the sub-checklist below will help to make sure everything is in its right place.

You can also use the "assign" feature for this specific task to internally delegate the transport of the newly arrived order to whatever department needs it.

  • 1
    Check order sheet for destination department
  • 2
    Assess logistics involved
  • 3
    Assign someone to move the order to correct department

Ensure new equipment is set up correctly

Some items will require specialist setup, such as software installations or new computer hardware upgrades. Make sure the relevant technician has been assigned to this job -  or maybe you'll be performing it yourself. 

Whatever the case, the standard setup procedure for each item should be followed, and the setup technician should be adequately informed of any special requirements.

The potential time taken to set up a product will vary greatly depending on the number and content of the order placed, so be sure to factor this time (and any required experience) into expected delivery milestones.

  • 1
    Make sure setup technician is properly qualified to perform setup
  • 2
    Make sure standard setup procedure is understood
  • 3
    Make sure setup technician understands any special requirements
  • 4
    Make sure department is aware of potential setup time

If you need to set up a new server from scratch, why not take a look at our server setup process to make the installation run smoothly?

Update inventory management system

Once everything has been received, confirmed working and dispatched to the correct departments, you need to update the inventory management system with all of the changes.

Once again, refer back to your initial order table, and search for the details of each order. Mark that the items have been received and double check where each item has to be delivered.

  • 1
    Refer back to initial order table
  • 2
    Search for the details of each order
  • 3
    Update itinerary
  • 4
    Update surplus stock

There really isn't much more to say here, other than this too can be automated; take a look at SoftwareAdvice's comparison of the best inventory management software based on recent reviews for more ideas.

Congratulations, you have completed the inventory management process!

Sources:

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