If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There’s a tool for every job. Work smarter, not harder. There’s a million and a half euphamisms about process, building, and fixing something. Today we’re here to say, they’re right. But, it’s about how you use what you’ve got, and use it well. What’s the answer to the inventory management problem? The waters are murky, but we’re here to help you find out.
Paper is easy, cheap, and universal. But, it also has shortcomings. Today, let’s dive into when paper is better, and how to use it in a system that utilizes the best parts of digital as well.
Paper is a universal medium. Chances are, you didn’t have to go over how pens + pencils worked in orientation. Maybe a handwriting guide would have been helpful, but other than that, your crew picked up whatever system that used paper pretty quickly.
Paper is cheap. Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company almost went under for a reason—their product is so low-cost, anybody can make it, and everybody knows it. The only paper that I know the price of is a stamp. And honestly, I bet most readers are going to search how much a stamp is nowadays (it’s 55¢ by the way).
Paper’s a great tool for easy manipulation. Is there an order that got put on hold? Write HOLD. Is the shipping weight not accurate? Cross it out. Sometimes, pick, pack, and ship systems just need to be straight-forward. There’s one stack for requests, and one stack for completed requests that both work chronologically, and sometimes that’s just the best way to do it.
But, it’s not the end-all-be-all for inventory management. There’s a reason paper is being phased-out across industries. If there’s one thing that’s true, it’s that whenever someone has an edge, someone’s right behind them figuring out how to get it. Digital systems have a ton more capacity for intricate problem-solving and growing your business, where paper is only as good as what’s written on it.
However, Is Paper The Best?
If you really want to build the best system, you’re going to have to use both paper and digital. Sometimes, the quick fix that’s the cheapest works fine. Others, it takes a strond digital system to bring back the status quo. With the right digital system, you take one scan and you have a detailed, permanent, and accurate way to trace all of your incoming, outbound, in-transit, in-production goods, at any stage of their life-cycle. With the Inventory Platform, at any time, you get to know exactly where an item is, inside, or outside the four walls of the warehouse.
Sure, we all know where our keys are right now—but then why do we always have to check when we leave the house? It’s because we’re human. Our memory isn’t perfect. Sometimes, things get lost in the shuffle, and you lock yourself out. With a digital system, you know everything there is to know about what you scan in real-time.
How Do You Combine The Two?
If you want your systems to improve, you’re going to wait a while for it to happen on it’s own. Unless your system was built to grow with you. The Inventory Platform was built to help make inventory management more manageable. Machine Learning and AI capabilities mean that any operation, function, or duty that the Inventory Platform can learn, it can help you improve. By streamlining decision-making processes and learning what works best for your business, you see an ROI that only gets better with time.
There are systems that can read a handwritten document like we read the morning paper. And guess what? Just like a pharmacist or physician’s assistant, they pick up on handwriting and shorthand no-problem. By using document parsing, you can to set up and train AI so that it’ll recognize the different components on a piece of paper. That piece of paper, of course, can be sent digitally through an email as a PDF or any kind of a format that you want.
When you train that OCR read of that document again paper, you can now translate that into a digital system. So you’re halfway there for much less of the investment that you typically would have to do to jump right in and do a full integration.
So, at the end of the day, there’s never going to be a “perfect” system. But, you can be sure that we’re working on it anyways. Paper is cost-effective. A digital system is mission-critical. Use The Inventory Platform to be the best at both.