When you're thinking about tracking your inventory, it's best to concentrate on the most valuable items - for countertop fabricators, that's the slabs of granite and quartz that you have sitting in your shop or yard. Next, you need to focus on building good habits. Set aside some time to develop a system, and then build time into your schedule every day to help you stick to it! Because no matter what kind of solution you use - pen and paper, Google docs or Moraware with a fancy barcode reader - your inventory system will be useless if you don't update the information consistently.
There is always a human side to the process that you have to think through and practice. JobTracker inventory is no different. Before you can successfully implement JobTracker Inventory Edition, it's critical to develop a solid Inventory process. But getting started can be daunting. Customers often tell us that they know keeping a simple spreadsheet might solve most of their problems, but an empty Excel spreadsheet is overwhelming - especially when you're already busy keeping up with the Jobs at hand.
Maybe we can help! Download this Excel spreadsheet and follow these instructions to get started.
- First, you'll need to identify who is responsible for tracking inventory. This might be you, the office manager, or production manager at your company. It's best to start off with one person who is in charge of the process, and once you understand what's involved you can delegate parts of managing inventory. A large part of the job will be making sure that you have the updated information about inventory, on a daily basis.
- Update the spreadsheet when you order material. When you order material, you can enter the information for Product Name, Color, Thickness, Length, Width, and Cost. Because you track each slab with its own serial number, only one slab is represented on each line in the spreadsheet. Excel does make it easy to automatically copy information into many rows.
- Update the spreadsheet when you receive material. When the material arrives, enter a Serial Number, Received Date, Lot Number, and Location in the spreadsheet. It's best to create your own system of serial numbers, instead of relying on the numbers from your stone distributor. You can use the Autofill feature in Excel to generate new serial numbers.
- Write the Serial Number on the slab. Because of how you're going to store the slabs, most people write the serial number on the edge of the slab. It's possible to do it with a sharpie, or you may want to get fancy and either tape or glue a piece of paper to the slab first.
- When a customer chooses a slab, allocate it to a job. Or, if you choose the slabs for the customer, do it when you're sure that you know exactly which slabs will be used for a particular job. When you assign material to a Job, enter the Job Name in the Description column and write it on the slab. You may want to use a Cut Sheet to give to your saw operators, so they can confirm that they're using the right slab.
- Once fabrication is complete, delete the row from your spreadsheet. It's also possible to make a separate tab that shows the consumed inventory. Instead of deleting the row, you can cut it from the live inventory tab and paste it into the consumed tab on the spreadsheet.
- Count your physical inventory. Periodically you will need to complete a physical count of your actual slabs and check to see that the numbers agree with your spreadsheet. Most people do this on a monthly or quarterly basis. Print the spreadsheet and mark each Serialized slab as you find it in your yard. Note any locations that are wrong or slabs that you find that might not be listed. When you finish the physical count, update your spreadsheet.
- If you want to filter your list of inventory by a particular column (e.g., product name or color), Excel's Autofilter feature makes it easy.
We hope these suggestions prove useful! Maybe this solution is all you will ever need, but you might also decide you want more. For example, maybe you'll want to make it easier to:
- manage your purchase orders,
- assign material to jobs,
- and track your remnants.
If so, then check out the Inventory Edition of our JobTracker scheduling software for countertop fabricators. And if you've already been using this spreadsheet and building good habits, it will be easy for you make a transition to JobTracker Inventory later.
Your "people processes" tend to be the same whether you use a spreadsheet or JobTracker Inventory. Here's a video that explains these processes further: