Increase Inventory System Functionality Using Custom Reporting

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It doesn't matter whether you're using a small business inventory tracking application worth a few hundred dollars, or a multi-million dollar enterprise package - there are a few things that are true across the board. Every piece of software has bugs.

No application will do exactly what you thought it would do; and the standard reports offered just don't work exactly right for what your business needs. Low end systems tend to be a little less buggy, given their low complexity, and high end systems give you better standard reporting and more functionality. However, almost no companies take advantage of the data they have available.

That's because they find the standard reporting to be constraining, and think that someone else is obligated to do custom reporting. Many people mistakenly think that you have to be a programmer, computer genius, or even the software manufacturer to create a custom report. Most people, especially those in operations management jobs, know the value of custom reports. But a surprising number of people in operation careers don't understand how they can be created. Smaller businesses and lower levels of organizations almost never get the benefit of custom reporting.

Many end users in operations careers are simply unaware of the tools that are available, or don't know that they don't have to be programmers to get use out of them. Even people in operations management jobs mistakenly believe that custom reporting is only for high level analysis, not for day to day reporting. All of these beliefs are wrong, and they're holding a lot of businesses back. There are all kinds of applications for custom reporting, as long as you know how to find them.

Custom reporting works well for high level analysis (the most widely used area), lower level management reporting (for day to day operational issues), functional reporting (to make up for functional problems in your information systems) and exception reporting (identifying errors). Once you get started using custom reporting, you'll find that just a little bit of imagination and a solid background can go a long way toward getting a great deal out of it.

So how can you create custom reports? You don't have to be a programmer, but you will need a good computer background and some solid skills. If you've only ever done data entry, and have to call IT every time you get stuck, you're probably not ready to jump right in. However, if you regularly deal with making your own spreadsheets with advanced functions, use data filtering and sorting tools, and engage in other advanced operations, you can probably get started without problems. There are plenty of different functionality options available for reporting tools, and you'll get a remarkable range of functions from most systems. Some will require more expertise than others.

Take the time to learn your system and step beyond standard reporting, and you'll be amazed at the difference it can make. You can increase the functionality of your inventory system just by creating the kind of reporting that's right for your organization. Try it and see how much of an improvement custom reporting can make for you.
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