Inventory management is one of the most laborious and time-consuming tasks a project manager must do when managing construction businesses. While inventory management includes understanding how to handle resources and when and where to allocate them, it is much more than that. It also involves overseeing the purchases, distribution, warehousing, and storage of goods while keeping an eye on the fluctuating construction costs. With thousands of moving goods, materials, and equipment flowing in a single project, chances are there is a possibility that some items might be overlooked since it is challenging to keep track of the flow of materials from one activity to another.
Mismanaged inventory is one of the most common reasons for a construction project’s inefficiency and delay, resulting in the inability to deliver project scopes on time or within budget and the danger of going over budget. One of the ways to overcome this risk is for the project managers to have an overview of the inventory in real-time: material stock and balance quantities projected deliveries and usage rates. Managing inventory is undoubtedly a challenge, especially if you monitor your lists manually through the traditional pen-and-paper or spreadsheets. If you are one of these people who are still stuck on these outdated methods, then think of this as a sign that you should switch to updated software to completely revamp the way you are handling and controlling your inventory management system.
In the past, construction management consisted only of monitoring workers, equipment, and tools and maintaining a continuous sequence of workflows. Many digital solutions are available nowadays that may assist you in avoiding time-consuming tasks and streamlining your project operations. Using the right construction inventory management system can significantly increase the productivity of a project and help prevent delays. In this blog, let us delve into what you should know about inventory management and how using construction software can change how you handle your inventory.
What Is Inventory Management?
An inventory is a complete and comprehensive list of all raw materials, goods, equipment, and workforce used in a company’s operational processes. On the other hand, inventory management in construction refers to how a contractor can keep track of all these inventories. It is a systematic process that involves sourcing, storing, and allocating all the resources needed to finish a construction project. To put it simply, it means having the right resources in the right amount at all the correct times.
Without the right resources, starting or completing an activity onsite seems impossible. Having the wrong or insufficient resources often disrupt the workflow processes, results in delays and additional costs, and reduces customer satisfaction. However, knowing when to order, schedule deliveries and store stock can quickly become a complex and intricate process. As a result, many growing construction companies turn to utilizing construction inventory app or software to improve visibility and assist project managers and stakeholders in making intelligent business choices.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Software for Inventory Management?
Using construction software is a proven way to help track and manage inventory better. It removes the wasted time and tedious work of manually changing stock levels and enables you to reduce the risks of project delays. This section lists down five benefits of going digital with your inventory management.
1. Reduced Paperwork and Manual Monitoring
Manually monitoring and tracking your inventory disrupts workflow, takes time, and is often inaccurate. Often, a manual paper list or a spreadsheet is not consistently updated and is often prone to misplacement with the change of personnel or crew. Using software can help reduce mismanagement of inventory and improve your company’s performance and operations.
2. Enhanced Accuracy and Consistency
Construction firms often deal with thousands of resources and a large amount of data regularly. As a result, these data should be managed precisely, and there should be little to no opportunity for mistakes. Using automated software reduces these errors and inconsistencies, giving way to a fool-proof and accurate inventory management system.
3. Improve Material and Resource Forecasting
A centralized view of your resource and stock levels allows project managers to estimate and forecast the needed materials for a specific activity. Relevant data such as project progress, reports and material usage updated in real-time will enable you to see and address materials management challenges before it becomes a problem. As a result, project managers need to understand material forecasting to purchase specific supplies to avoid additional delays in the project’s completion date.
4. Reduce Wasted Inventory
The ability to predict what, when, and how much your crew uses the resources onsite reduces the need to keep out-of-date goods, as well as the ability to predict when things expire so that you can develop a plan for utilizing them. Think of your inventory as equivalent to a cost taken out of your budget. Good inventory management protects you from overstocks when such expenses could have been allocated to where they are most required.
5. Promote Overall Customer Satisfaction
Undertaking a construction project is not just about accurately delivering the scope within its budget and time constraints. On top of it all, meeting customer expectations and satisfaction is a critical part of project success. In project management for construction, inventory plays a crucial role in ensuring your project’s success —good inventory management can result in a smooth, seamless, and stress-free construction experience for clients.
What Are the Features of a Good Construction Software for Inventory Management?
With the modern digitalization of the present times, the construction industry is not far behind when utilizing online resources and digital solutions. A good, fully integrated, all-in-one construction software should encompass the three main areas required in managing construction projects: scheduling, crew management, and inventory management. When using construction software for inventory management, it should contain the following critical features for comprehensive and seamless inventory monitoring and control.
1. Centralized Inventory Control
Using web based inventory software, a centralized approach means enhanced consistency and reduced mistakes in tracking the availability of materials changes. Having a centralized inventory control allows all construction information to be available to both office and field employees. Everyone involved can monitor expenses, efficiency, and production by keeping track of your inventory correctly and promptly.
2. Automated Inventory Tracking
To ensure that resource and stock levels do not dip dangerously below the requirement, every project manager should be able to track inventory as they arrive, mark when materials are in use, and by which team. One way to resolve this predicament is by automating it with the help of construction inventory software, with all this information easily accessible by everyone. You can easily track the usage rates or any material defect to ensure the inventory statuses are up to date. Based on the notifications, proper monitoring of materials at every project stage is done, thus allowing a company to reorder the goods at the right time and making sure you never run out.
3. Detailed Inventory Information
Good construction software should include detailed inventory information, making it possible to organize, update and analyze data in real-time. Planning your construction project workflow and assigning tasks becomes much more accessible by providing all the needed details to your crew through the ability to attach a picklist to all your job instructions. It is easier to view and track the list of the tools, equipment, and supplies required for the day’s activities and duties, whether you are in the office or the field.
4. Accurate Document Control
Sometimes, some occasions may arise in which your goods will be bought, delivered onsite, and then must be returned for various reasons. In such a situation, manually keeping track of produced stocks and determining what to do with them may be daunting. It will thus be possible to generate, confirm, or cancel returns using an effective inventory management system in place and allocate them to the appropriate warehouse and schedule a pick-up date for them. Also required is a return reason, which is used to determine if inventory should be returned for a refund or substituted entirely. You can accurately document and upload any necessary receipts, reports, and photos for reference through software.
5. Software Support and Training System
Software is only beneficial if it is used to achieve the desired outcomes for your company. Having chat and email supports or training and continuous improvement updates to accurately utilize the software to its full potential is an essential feature that construction software should have.
The construction industry is progressively transitioning to a digital environment, with the goal of using online resources and innovative solutions to enhance the way project managers manage the workflows and efficiency of a project. Inventory management is one area where construction software may make a big difference in project management when appropriately implemented. Using inventory management software has several advantages, including providing you with a clear and accurate picture of data that you can use to make informed choices while managing your project resulting in a smooth, seamless, and stress-free construction experience for clients, contractors, and subcontractors.