Tag Archive: Inventory and Operations Planning

Cycle Counting: The 5 Keys to Inventory Accuracy

July 31st, 2014
cycle counting inventory management

The key to effective cycle counting is to not get bogged down in resolving every dollar, but rather focus on the significant discrepancies.

The main goal of cycle counting is to cycle through your inventory to ensure inventory accuracy on a consistent basis. (In contrast, a physical inventory is a point-in-time process, typically yearly, to ensure inventory accuracy). The keys are as follows:

1. People: It is important to make sure the right resources have the right responsibilities. A counter requires a detail-orientation and should take counting seriously (it is amazing how much time and energy is saved with a cycle counter that understands the value of counting right the first time), whereas a reconciler requires an analytic ability with enough of a big picture understanding to make sense of the results and research.

2. Cycle count frequency – cycle counting must be performed on a consistent enough basis to provide assurance that the inventory is continually reviewed (and can be relied upon). Best practice processes typically count weekly – at minimum, monthly.

3. Cycle count calendar – the key is to make sure that you’ve cycled through your warehouse at least once a year and have covered 100% of your warehouse. Depending on your level of accuracy and impact on customer service, a more frequent basis might be required.

4. Cut-off processes: you might as well throw out all your work if everything moves while its being counted. It is critical to identify a process that works for your business where you freeze the inventory for a period of time and/or coordinate closely on all moving parts and cut-off’s.

5. Variance analysis: there is no reason to count if the majority of the emphasis isn’t on understanding your variance root causes and developing solutions. Don’t get bogged down in resolving every dollar – focus on the significant ones, and you’ll achieve the “80/20”. This is the key to an effective cycle counting program.

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Bedrock Topic:  Inventory Accuracy


What are the Benefits of SIOP?

January 7th, 2014
Companies that conduct effective Sales, Inventory and Operations Planning (SIOP) are able to balance supply with demand an exceed customer expectations.

Companies that conduct effective Sales, Inventory and Operations Planning (SIOP) are able to balance supply with demand and exceed customer expectations.

Sales, Inventory and Operations Planning (SIOP) is a process that manufacturers and distributors utilize to align supply with demand.

What are the key benefits?

•      Happy customers:  Lately, I’ve seen this objective rise in importance – customers want more for less NOW. Lead times must decrease! The SIOP process can have a direct impact on on-time-delivery percentages, past due dollars and lead times.

•      Increased margins:  One of the key benefits of aligning demand with supply is that it provides the opportunity to increase production efficiencies (because you have more time to plan effectively), increase logistics efficiencies (by having more time to optimize and through customer collaboration opportunities), reduce purchase spend (with a longer forecast, there is opportunity to develop contracts and collaborate with suppliers), and increase revenues (through customer partnerships).

•      More cash: By balancing demand with supply, you have more of the right items at the right place at the right time.  Thus, inventory levels can decline without negatively impacting service levels.  Thus, cash is freed up for better investments.

•      Improved teamwork: The SIOP process has also proven extremely effective in bringing cross-functional teams together to agree on one plan.  Although it doesn’t sound difficult, I’ve worked with countless companies that have multiple plans – one for Wall Street; one for sales, yet another one for production and potentially yet one more with new product development goals.  Once everyone is working from the same sheet of music, results follow and morale improves.

•        Increased revenues:  What else could you ask for to round out the benefits?  By collaborating with customers on their demand (and often on collaborative inventory programs), you become a dependable, more valuable partner.  I’ve seen volumes increase multiple times as a result.

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