Stock control and inventory

Stock control systems - keeping track using computer software

Computerised stock control systems run on similar principles to manual ones, but are more flexible and information is easier to retrieve. You can quickly get a stock valuation or find out how well a particular item of stock is moving.

A computerised system is a good option for businesses dealing with many different types of stock. Other useful features include:

  • Stock and pricing data integrating with accounting and invoicing systems. All the systems draw on the same set of data, so you only have to input the data once. Sales Order Processing and Purchase Order Processing can be integrated in the system so that stock balances and statistics are automatically updated as orders are processed.
  • Automatic stock monitoring, triggering orders when the re-order level is reached.
  • Automatic batch control if you produce goods in batches.
  • Identifying the cheapest and fastest suppliers.
  • Bar coding systems which speed up processing and recording. The software will print and read bar codes from your computer.
  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) which enables individual products or components to be tracked throughout the supply chain. See the page in this guide on using RFID for inventory control, stock security and quality management.

The system will only be as good as the data put into it. Run a thorough stocktake before it goes 'live' to ensure accurate figures. It's a good idea to run the previous system alongside the new one for a while, giving you a back-up and enabling you to check the new system and sort out any problems.

Choose a system

There are many software systems available. Talk to others in your line of business about the software they use, or contact Invest NI's E-solutions centre for impartial advice.

Make a checklist of your requirements. For example, your needs might include:

  • multiple prices for items
  • prices in different currencies
  • automatic updating, selecting groups of items to update, single-item updating
  • using more than one warehouse
  • ability to adapt to your changing needs
  • quality control and batch tracking
  • integration with other packages
  • multiple users at the same time

Avoid choosing software that's too complicated for your needs as it will be a waste of time and money.