Inventory Shrinkage: Preventing Loss and Theft by Managing Inventory

What is Shrinkage?

Inventory shrinkage means the number of products in stock falls below the number indicated on the inventory list. The discrepancy could be caused by clerical errors, damaged or lost products, or theft from the point of purchase to the point of sale.

What are the Main Causes of Inventory Shrinkage?

There are different causes of inventory shrinkage depending on the type of business. In retail environments, these are some of the most common that contribute to inventory shrinkage:

  1. Employee theft and customer theft/shoplifting
  2. Administrative error
  3. Damaged or expired products

Missing items in the supply chain can be caused by a lot of factors. Inventory shrinkage in logistics and warehouses is caused by the factors listed above as well as the following:

  1. Over shipments and short-receipts 
  2. Substitution of good items to subquality items
  3. Re-classifications of goods

Employee Theft

Employee theft is one of the causes of inventory shrinkage. It refers to stealing or misuse of business property for personal reasons without documentation or authorization.

This is very damaging in every business. It happens every step along the process from manufacturing to shipping to warehousing to retail.

Employee Theft affects a lot of aspects of the business and primarily costs. To recoup the losses, businesses may try to increase orders to reach the ideal profit margin or increase the price of products. But with this method, they are putting more finances into acquiring goods to sell and might also lose price-sensitive consumers looking elsewhere to find similar products with lower prices. 

The things that are commonly stolen are not just money, it can also be the following:
  • Supplies Theft. Employees take office supplies such as items for manufacturing, computer peripherals, notebooks, and other small items that are still big in cost when accumulated
  • Merchandise theft. When employees are stealing items that are supposed to be sold to the customers.
  • Information and Time Theft. Information theft is trading a company’s private information or selling company designs and time theft is when an employee is not working while on the clock and still being paid.

Why Do Employees Steal?

Theft can be encouraged by several factors but the common factors are motivation and opportunity. One of the motives for people to take stuff is because they are underpaid. Employees may be overworked, therefore stealing something, whether it’s time or money, is acceptable since they believe it’s owed to them. 

The opportunity to steal is another contributor to employee theft. If the company’s security is lax, there will always be an opportunity to steal, which will motivate those employees who already have ulterior motives.

Why Does Employee Theft Matter?

If you’re wondering if employee theft is an expense, the answer is a big YES! and it’s a huge expense especially when it accumulates over time.

Though it may be costly to protect valuable assets and investigate employee theft, there are several reasons why businesses need to do so. Here are some of the negative results of employee theft:

Profit loss

Suppose a business loses inventory due to employee theft. In that case, it will be unable to recover the cost of the inventory because there will be no inventory to sell or return to the vendor.

Losing customers over the price increase

Some businesses try to recover losses by increasing the price of available goods to account for the losses in inventory. This means the customers will be the ones to shoulder the costs and this has a huge impact especially when the customers have a sensitive budget where a slight change in price affects their buying behavior, worst is when they try to look for other merchants for alternatives.

Problems in business operations

Because of theft losses, businesses may allocate more funds to other areas such as security. They invest in more security guards, CCTVs, and other technology just to decrease the occurrence. This results in a further decrease in profits and also a decrease in purchasing capacity.

How to Prevent Employee Theft?

Given the numerous negative effects of theft on every business, we must take action to minimize it. The following are the simple yet effective ways to reduce shrinkage:

  1. Tighten security.
  2. Hire and assign reliable employees.
  3. Check transactions each day.
  4. Reduce or eliminate human errors by using a system.
  5. Keeping a record of the losses.

Use of Inventory Management System

Human errors and omissions can be avoided by automating the inventory management process. A dedicated inventory management system can assist in reducing human stock handling and inventory shrinkage.

All people participating in the inventory management process will be held accountable by the software. It will track the inventory’s location from point to point and provide logs for all users that made adjustments to the inventory.

Aside from reducing risks of shrinkage, inventory management systems also offer other features that can optimize inventory processes. One of these features is inventory visibility which makes it easier to locate things in your inventory and make sure inventory levels are at the optimal level.

Conclusion

Because there are so many ways for one person to steal, organizations must make good use of resources to effectively protect the most valuable items. Using inventory management software is one method to reduce the risk of employee theft and inventory shrinkage in general, but you should also consider if employees feel appreciated and whether your gratitude for their efforts is reflected in their pay. This will eliminate any thoughts of resentment, which might lead to the motivation to steal goods they believe they are owed.

Inventory Management: Achieving Inventory Visibility

What is Inventory Visibility?

First, what is meant by inventory visibility? Most businesses are more concerned with quantities and products and don’t pay much attention to where the products are located. The number of locations in businesses varies based on how small or big the business or the operations are. Even little bins and drawers, as well as vehicles, can be locations, therefore it’s critical to look after them in the same way that we look after storage rooms, pallets, and aisles to obtain accurate inventory data.

True inventory visibility goes beyond knowing how many you have, it also includes knowing where each item is at any given time. This is extremely important, especially for organizations with multiple locations and goods.

The ability to track inventory movement across multiple locations and different phases of the business process allows for better inventory management.

How do you achieve inventory accuracy and inventory visibility?

The traditional methods of inventory tracking, such as excel sheets and paper documentation cannot provide both accuracy and inventory visibility. These are also prone to human error.

Accuracy begins when products arrive at the dock and continues until they are placed in stock. Products may travel through several procedures, and if you don’t have the correct inventory management system in place to track each one, you may lose track of the actual count and location of your inventory. Inventory visibility is not just knowing how many you have, but also keeping a precise count of everything and knowing where everything is at any given time.

Visual Map of a Medical Laboratory Inventory

Inventory management systems are the greatest way to obtain both inventory visibility and accuracy. It’s a little investment to improve overall inventory management and avoid costly inventory management errors. There are several inventory management systems available these days, so choose one that best suits your procedures and actually addresses your inventory issues.

Inventory Visibility Benefits

Inventory visibility and control are both integral parts of any business operation. If your business can’t answer basic questions like how many you have and where each item is kept, you could be missing out on opportunities.  From the retail management perspective, you could be losing countless sales opportunities. In a huge manufacturing plant, you could be losing money because of delays in finding spare parts for your machinery. Or, if you are in the medical field, you may even lose lives.

Having better inventory visibility would pave the way to:

  • Having a knowledge of the actual inventory on-hand
  • Knowing how much inventory to purchase
  • Knowing when to purchase inventory
  • Having a bird’s eye view and centralized inventory management that increases visibility and communication between management and operations.

Prevent excess inventory

No firm will buy something only to have extra inventory, but we must remember that someone made every purchase, and the available inventory data triggered that decision. 

How would you know what you have if you don’t even have access to real-time information on how many you have and on where each item is located? It’s not always easy to determine when your company’s excess inventory will become a problem. However, a lack of visibility into your inventory is one of the most common causes of goods stacking up in your warehouses. Fear of running out of stock will cause you to order more than you need to avoid stockouts.

If the buffer inventory doesn’t meet demand, you’ll end up with excess inventory, and your hard-earned money will sit in your warehouse. This is risky too, especially in retail where trendy items almost change every month. 

By improving inventory visibility, you can get the data you need to develop more accurate forecasts. Having more confidence in your current inventory levels also minimizes the need for always having a buffer inventory, which is a major cause of excess inventory.

Prevent stockouts

This is one of the most common issues that every company may face. Without a warehouse management system, inaccurate inventory counts can lead to stockouts. 

While retailers may be able to give customers alternative brands of products, this may still result in a terrible customer experience. In other industries, such as manufacturing plants or healthcare this might not be possible because each item serves a specific purpose.

Your business can avoid stockouts by committing to enhancing inventory visibility. Stockouts hurt not only profitability but also the image of your business.

Better business decision-making

It’s far easier for inventory managers and retail associates to look into the system than roam around the store or warehouse and comb through every pallet and box.

The inventory management system’s innovative approach includes a system that works like a bird’s eye view that allows you to manage day-to-day operations. Using a computer or mobile device, you may quickly filter out product information, inventory levels, location, and other critical details like price, expiration dates, barcodes, and other identifiers.

Another advantage of the inventory management system is having features that help decision-making. When trying to keep everything in sync between offices, warehouses, or retail, there are several factors to consider. Management gets easier when everyone is looking at the same thing. There will be no inconsistencies between the opinions of different people on the inventory numbers. Everyone in the firm has access to the same information and can make data-driven decisions for the business.

Why is Inventory Management Important for a Pharmacy?

What is inventory in pharmacy?

Inventory is the biggest asset of any pharmacy. Pharmacy inventory refers to the contents of medicine containers and all prescription drugs. How you handle pharmacy inventory decides whether you maximize revenue or yield losses.

Pharmacy inventory management is the life of business operations. Unopened, partially opened, in processed drugs are all part of the pharmacy inventory processes. How you track the movements of every product from every step is one way to minimize losses and maximize efficiency in handling your inventory.

There are various types of pharmacies, but the retail pharmacy and hospital pharmacy are the two most common. Both serve almost the same market (generally, patients in need of medications), but their inventories are commonly handled differently.

What is the difference between Hospital Pharmacy and Retail Pharmacy Inventory Management?

Retail Pharmacy

In a retail pharmacy setting, pharmacy technicians fill prescriptions written by doctors. They provide medicines that the consumer can handle independently and occasionally make substitutions based on availability. In terms of inventory, retail pharmacy inventory has a more expanded list of products, they have an open medication inventory and are always ready to cater to the majority of consumers who requires them.

Hospital Pharmacy

Hospital pharmacy, on the other hand, deals with more complicated cases. Pharmacy technicians at hospitals do the same duties as those in retail pharmacies, but their job is quite more complex because they also handle compounding medications. Inventory management in hospital pharmacy is a little different, hospitals keep a close inventory of drugs regularly used to treat more complicated medical cases.

Challenges in Pharmacy Inventory Management

Whatever type of pharmacy you handle, the problem you may always encounter is related to the inventory.

Problems and solutions in the pharmaceutical industry vary based on location, demand, and budget.

Pharmacy inventory management, especially in hospitals, deals with a different level of pressure. This is because drugs are being used by patients and having stockouts because of an improper way of handling inventory may result in big trouble.

To achieve a streamlined pharmacy inventory, you must first address the following questions:

  • What items do you have in stock?
  • Where are they being kept?
  • (For hospital pharmacy) Is the inventory on hand match what each department (compounding, dispensing, packaging, etc.) should have?
  • Are any items about to, or already expired?
  • Are there any missing items?

Every question above has answers that fall onto areas supposedly covered by inventory visibility and control. If some of the questions are not answered, problems might pile up in the long run.  

If you can confidently answer all of the above questions, you’re probably doing well with your inventory. If you’re having trouble doing so, you may need to review your inventory management system and protocols.

How Can Pharmacy Improve Inventory?

One of the solutions for the physical inventory you have is to invest in a high-quality medical storage unit. Modern storage containers offer benefits for organizing your inventory, making the most of your available space, and optimizing your workspace.

In addition to medical storage for your physical inventory, you must invest in a quality inventory management system that can help you streamline your daily operations. Using pharmacy inventory management systems, you may prepare and examine reports to analyze your stock, build plans to improve inventory control, keep track of the number of drugs in your inventory, and avoid stockouts and overstocks.

Most pharmacies these days rely on a rudimentary system that solves only the basics and often missed other inventory challenges. The following are some of the typical challenges pharmacy technicians face on a daily basis, as well as the solutions offered by pharmacy inventory management systems:

Inability to access operations data

Hundreds of medications and multiple locations (shelves, drawers, cabinets, etc.) must be managed in a pharmacy. It’s easy when you have a bird’s eye view of the entire process in this situation. Today’s technology allows everyone to view the status of each location, whether to evaluate the need for replenishment or to just do some routine auditing.

Tracking movements and inventory levels

Inventory levels refer to the number of goods or supplies you have on hand across your whole distribution network. Pharmacies establish minimum stock levels that must always be met in order for a drug item to be dispensed. The system will notify the management when an item drops below the threshold, triggering them to make an immediate order for replenishment.

This seems like a basic principle, but with a manual inventory system, this involves significant time investment. With inventory management systems, you can easily keep track of everything you take out and even the items that are moved from one location to another.

Update pricing and put proper costing information

When updating pricing manually in an excel sheet is very time-consuming and prone to human error. Inventory management solutions offer search fields where you can search for specific drugs and update not only the pricing but also other product information. This boosts tracking revenue by properly getting expense data.

Expiration dates

Expired items lead to huge capital losses.  The common strategy is to rotate stock on the shelves. The sooner the product expiration dates should be rotated to the front and the later the expiry date should be put to the rear. 

Even though it’s a straightforward procedure, human error can cause it to fail. Some pharmacy inventory management systems have a function that allows you to adjust each product’s expiration date and receive a signal when that date approaches. This way, you’ll know which things to distribute first.

Everything is manual

It’s great when a pharmacy distributor provides an inventory system as a reward for purchasing from them, but most distributors don’t, and pharmacies must figure out how to manage their inventory as efficiently as possible on their own. Many pharmacy managers spend weeks or even months experimenting with inventory solutions to see if they can help them with even the most basic issues. Worse, they have to manage manually while waiting for the optimal solution, which means they end up roaming around, manually counting items, and checking their status.

Even simple tasks like moving items from one location to another sometimes require a long process just to keep track of every change made. But with a pharmacy inventory management system, you may effortlessly drag and drop things between places, use barcode scanners to search for items and locations, and update quantity and pricing information.  You won’t have to worry about losing track of every item because everything is recorded, including who moved them, when they were moved, and where they went.

Shrinkage in Pharmacy

Before the pandemic, there are already challenges in every inventory management. But when COVID spread, even the uncommon problems now add up and became frequent.

One of the biggest challenges right now in pharmacy inventory management is shrinkage. Because of the strong demand for pandemic-related commodities and the limited supply, most pharmacies may have attempted to buy in bulk. If this is the case, pharmacy inventory technicians must strengthen their monitoring of those items because people may act inappropriately in pandemic scenarios, resulting in employee theft and shrinkages. Unrecorded losses are frequently detected only during routine inventory audits or, even worse after the item has already been declared as out of stock (when it shouldn’t have been).

Shrinkage concerns can now be resolved with the help of modern technology. Pharmacy inventory management systems keep track of everything from purchase through repackaging, storage, and putting items on shelves for sale. Every product movement is recorded, including who last touched it, when it happened, and where it was located. Aside from that, pharmacy inventory management systems provide centralized data management, allowing you to check if inventory is still at its optimal level and that you can alert the distributor quickly if it isn’t. Shrinkages and employee theft are less likely to occur when everything is accounted for in a system like this.

Conclusion

Each pharmacy is unique. They are comparable only because of the common processes they use to optimize management. What keeps the business running is knowing what your minimum/maximum order is, what the suggested order is, what you actually ordered, what you have on hand, what to place on the shelf, and how much they cost. It is critical that all these are answered based on accurate data from your inventory management system.

The ideal inventory management doesn’t stop with knowing what and how much inventory you have. It should extend to knowing where everything is located at any given moment.

Inventory control guarantees that the proper amount of inventory is on hand. The most significant features are demand planning and shrinkage minimization. To make the best business decisions possible, inventory control requires reliable data all of the time.

The bottom line is that whatever the issue is, it usually boils down to visibility and control challenges, so if you’re having trouble optimizing your stocks and demand planning, you might want to dig a little deeper into these two critical areas and see if your current inventory practices or solutions address these two important aspects of pharmacy inventory management.

Managing Trunk Stock and Maintenance Spare Parts Inventory

The way we handle inventory is determined by the inventory kinds we have. When we think of inventory management, we normally think of direct inventory, which are raw materials for manufacturing, and retail or wholesale, which are direct inventory purchases that are shelved to be sold.

What is spare parts inventory?

Spare parts inventory refers to interchangeable items such as service parts, replacement parts, or repair parts. These items are so important that they generally have a negative impact on overall operations when not readily available or cannot be obtained in the shortest time possible.

Multiple locations and vehicles are common with this type of inventory which results in many problems that manual tracking can’t manage. Trunk stock and spare parts inventory are either very dynamic or very static and it requires a different strategy than traditional retail inventory management.

Classification of Spare Parts Inventory

1. Service Parts

Trunk stock and spare parts inventory in the field service industry is different from inventory in manufacturing. Items from this type of inventory are most likely kept at a hospital or move around a lot in a vehicle, making them more dynamic. The following are some of the issues and difficulties that come with having a trunk stock inventory:

Storing too many items

Field technicians have a habit of always having a large number of spare parts with them. It’s possible that they just used a small portion of the stock, keeping the remainder in the trunk. These things are not bringing in immediate revenue, thus the costs are not being covered right away.

Unaccountability

Trunk stock and spare parts are very hard to track. Field technicians often lose track of how much inventory they have when they are focused on providing services to customers. They may recognize what they have but usually don’t know how much they have. Items can be lost easily because of no accountability and very low visibility.

Repackaging kits to make them complete

Medical trunk stock is for those partially used surgical/medical kits that must be returned to a stocking location, sanitized, and repackaged with missing parts to make it a complete set.  It’s hard to keep an accurate record of these processes when doing it manually.

2. Maintenance Parts in Manufacturing

The majority of inventory management knowledge does not apply to spare parts in manufacturing. These are not things that should be put on the shelf to be sold, this type of inventory management has its own set of rules. They are static inventory that is kept on shelves to service equipment that’s critical to large industrial plants, which can’t afford to have delays due to equipment failures because it will cost them a lot of money.

The following are the things you need to look into when managing a spare parts inventory.

Slow-Moving Items

With a common type of inventory management, we think we don’t need slow-moving items. In spare parts inventory management for huge manufacturing plants, however, slow-moving goods or those that don’t move at all such as insurance spares are the stuff you should wish you weren’t using. This is because you have to use them only when something bad happened or production was interrupted.

Expensive Stockout Costs

The actual price of an item may be irrelevant in large manufacturing plants because the stock-out cost is calculated based on how much impact it can have on the entire operation. That is why inventory administrators should think differently when determining how many things they need to keep on hand to ensure that operations are not disrupted.

Having a Centralized System

Goals or updates in the manufacturing or processing operations should be cascaded effectively to maximize the efficiency of each operation. This has to do with a centralized data management system, that allows everyone to know what you have on hand, and where are they located in order to assist in manufacturing or processing activities.

Spare Parts Inventory Management Systems

ERP systems are commonly best for retail inventory management. The problems and other things you need to look into in spare parts management are best handled by inventory management systems that are specifically made for this type of inventory.

Here’s how inventory management systems can help.

  • Field Service. When storing dynamic items, it’s easy to lose track of everything. With barcoding, inventory mapping, and activity history, cases of missing items and theft would decrease. Managers will be able to see which items were checked out, who checked them out, and where they are located. Everything that comes in and out of the warehouse is accounted for and it is easier to locate products.
  • Manufacturing. Though spare parts inventory moves very slowly, it still plays an important role in the business. The goal is to see exactly where items are located and what quantities are on hand at all times. When these things are needed, managers must locate them quickly to reduce downtime costs, and because the cost is so high, they should be keen on understanding what and how much they have on hold.

No one buys inventory with the intention of wasting money.  How you handle operations and what system you use, determines the outcome for trunk stock and spare parts management.

Some companies find cost-cutting opportunities by examining their inventory to evaluate if the things they have are truly necessary for day-to-day operations. Since trunk stock and spare parts inventory is very dynamic,  inventory managers have put in a lot of work to keep track of almost everything.

They check whether parts and supplies are available or not, what needs to be returned to the stocking point for repacking, and inventory movement in general. The inventory management system can make this process much easier by boosting inventory visibility, it assists businesses in assuring accountability, avoiding shrinkage, and decreasing purchase order errors.

Simplifying Inventory Management for Municipalities and Other Government Agencies

Municipalities are one of the busiest organizations. Unlike manufacturing and warehousing, this organization has different departments with numerous people needing supplies and peripherals to perform their jobs. The police stations, fire stations, and health units are some of those departments that need different types of supplies and equipment.

Manual operations frequently result in misplaced or lost tools, consumable supplies, and other peripherals. The manual data gathering procedures of the past are no longer capable of keeping the warehousing needs of today even for small businesses and government agencies. 

Accurate inventory stock levels are also difficult to determine due to inaccuracies and backlogs. Manual procedures, in other words, are a waste of time and money.

The Inventory Process

Inventory management tasks such as procurement, receipt, recording, issuing, and storekeeping are being divided among officials to manage inventory for municipalities. Segregation of duties is beneficial to avoid potential errors and fraud. 

What’s best for organizations with processes like this is to have a centralized system that gives real-time information and inventory visibility. The organizational structure alone is very extended and when it comes to handling the multiple locations and departments, it’s hard to keep track of which department has what supplies and assets, and how many items are left in the inventory.

Optimizing the inventory itself might appear to be a difficult task, however, with the help of today’s technology, it is still possible to enhance the management of inventory while reducing the cost. Automated technologies like inventory management software are being used by organizations to streamline inventory processes and be in control of everything on hand to become more efficient and always record-ready for auditing and reporting.

The best features to consider in an inventory management system for organizations like municipalities are the following

  • Inventory mapping
  • Inventory loss prevention
  • Inventory level indicator and expiration date
  • Barcoding
  • Drag and drop items between locations

Inventory mapping

It is one of the new features in some of the inventory management systems. Municipalities have numerous departments which are equivalent to multiple locations that need to be managed. Inventory mapping offers a dashboard where these locations can be mapped based on their actual location in an office. Users can create sublocations such as rooms, shelves, cabinets, and even drawers and vehicles and zoom into these locations to view contents. 

Inventory loss prevention

Inventory loss can occur for a variety of causes, including human mistakes or fraudulent conduct such as theft. Loss may be avoided by keeping track of inventory activities. With activity history, important information such as who, when, and why supplies and assets are moved or checked out is tracked and recorded.

Inventory level indicator and expiration date

The inventory level indicator is quite useful when it comes to keeping the ideal inventory level. Storekeepers will know what items and when replenishments should be ordered based on the selected threshold. Expiration dates aren’t just for perishable goods, they can also be used as a reminder for routine maintenance or auditing. This is also where the useful life of certain equipment may be set to determine if it performed its function for the specified amount of time or to use as a reference if it has to be replaced soon.

Barcoding

Barcoding is a common kind of automated data collecting. It is a proven and reliable approach that has been used for decades. Barcode labels can be developed and attached to assets and supplies. Each barcode label contains important information about the object such as the description and the identification number.

Drag and drop items between locations

Drag and drop is very useful in day-to-day operations for quick transactions like distributing consumable supplies and assigning equipment to each office department.


Automated inventory management ensures data collection is accurate. It’s easier to optimize inventories and recognize where adjustments are needed. The ultimate goal is to achieve efficiency and get a hold of accurate and detailed information anytime.

Ineffective inventory management has a significant impact on both cost and service delivery. Inventory shortages, in particular, affect service delivery, while excess inventory leads to higher costs. As a result, one of the most important goals of inventory management is to guarantee that the ideal amount of inventory is accessible to achieve defined service levels while keeping prices low.

If your department’s existing approach to inventory management continues to cause issues, you may want to reconsider your present procedures. Municipalities and other public sectors do not have standard inventory management since it is dependent on the needs of the organization to carry out its mission. 

Inventory Visibility for Cold Storage Warehouses

As consumers, we are always concerned about the dairy, meat, and other foods we consume. Our focus is to take care of their storage and quality. The companies that make these items, like us, take efforts to ensure the safety of such commodities. 

The difference is that when it comes to the manufacture and storage of such items, a cold room or a cold storage warehouse is more suitable than a regular refrigerator. These storages exist in different forms depending on the need of items but all of these are restricted to a certain temperature to keep the product safe.

Problems with Cold Storage

Aside from the problems in the facility, another common problem in cold rooms and warehouses is the customers’ increasing number of specific demands based on their product requirements. Perishable products, pharmaceutical products, flowers and plants, and even artworks are examples of these diverse items that require different conditions. A warehouse that fits all is not possible. 

With so many different needs, it has become usual to design specialized cold storage and assign distinct sections for each type of product in order to meet environmental requirement conditions. This also involves the use of multiple sections, racks, shelves, and temperature variations while storing them.

The above conditions result in many locations and sublocations that are the root cause of low inventory visibility. Warehouses are large enough to generate numerical confusion because of tons of items that are in and out of the facility.

Why Visibility is important?

Visibility is critical in warehouse management, whether for cold storage or its dry counterpart. When a client requests an audit to check for accuracy, missing items, and overall process, the management must be able to comply with the request with the least amount of error possible, or the customer’s trust will be lost.

When it comes to warehouse management, inventory visibility should be a key priority. You must know exactly where, how, who, or what section of the room each product is kept, and you must be able to quickly identify those things when the need arises to avoid delays and client complaints.

There are processes that need to be followed. From the arrival of goods to packing and dispatch, every step in this process requires traceability to make everything accountable.

The best way to inventory visibility is to have an inventory management system. With many locations and thousands of boxes and pallets, a bird’s eye perspective of the entire operation is a must. Users may simply identify goods and check quantities in a given location using the management system’s search field capability and keep track of everything that happens to the inventory in the activity history.

Imagine yourself wandering through a warehouse, counting boxes and pallets. Isn’t it simple? Now doing the same job but in a freezing cold environment. When you have a system that can pull data fast, it saves time and effort to execute activities like this. You may also reduce the frequency of counting because when everything is digitized and every change is being tracked, then there will be very minimal errors. If an issue with the inventory count occurs, you can identify who was the last person accountable.

Optimizing Evidence Room

Evidence management is defined as the administration and control of evidence related to an event in order for it to be utilized to prove the circumstances of an event. 

Every piece of evidence should be preserved of its integrity before it may be utilized in court or tested by independent parties. Hence, every item in the evidence room should be looked after carefully. 

Despite the fact that every agency is aware of the need for having a pristine chain of custody, it is still frequently mishandled due to the challenges they are facing. We can all agree that an evidence room is not as simple as recording and keeping when dealing with thousands of pieces of evidence and the pressure of maintaining a proper record and safekeeping.

Keeping Evidence Room Under Control

Thousands of crimes are committed each year, resulting in an increasing amount of evidence being held in warehouses. From collecting to documentation to processing and storage, it’s already a tedious process. Keeping the evidence chain of custody and securing it while maintaining it is another challenging task. 

Evidence room inventory checking and auditing are critical to ensuring the integrity and overall process. It depends on the agency’s preference when they conduct the audit, but it is important to do so for various reasons. 

Stories of missing and stolen evidence are common. These are caused by disorganization and low visibility.

One particular reason is to ensure that all evidence is present and properly accounted for. By taking evidence and physically checking them, you can be certain that it is still where it should be. By doing this, you’re not just ensuring that the items you’re looking for are in their designated location, you’re also checking for items that aren’t supposed to be there. 

Auditing inventories can avoid not only misplaced evidence, but also helps in preventing missing items, especially when high-value evidence is involved, such as money, drugs, and guns. 

Best Practices for Evidence Room Management

Another way to keep the evidence room under control is to follow these practices:

  1. Keeping a correct and complete record.
    • Documentation is commonly taken for granted. Evidence technicians, managers, and other parties involved are sometimes unaware of the importance of detailed documentation until something goes wrong. Evidence could be misplaced or lose its value when improperly handled. 
  2. Keeping the evidence’s value and integrity.
    • Documentation is useless if the evidence’s value and integrity are jeopardized. Keep sensitive evidence, such as biological and other high-value evidence in storage that fits its condition. For keeping the evidence’s integrity, there’s no other best way but to keep an excellent chain of custody.
  3.  Automate the process.
    • Most evidence rooms now have a system in place for documenting, preserving, or auditing objects on a regular basis. This is a sensible move for agencies that have transitioned to using an evidence management system. Things can be automated to save time and ensure that the chain of custody protocols are flawless.

Evidence Management Systems

Evidence is categorized depending on its types, such as weapons, biological items, properties, and documents. Each category requires corresponding storage to maintain its value. An evidence room can expand from rooms, racks, shelves, to multiple locations depending on the types of evidence on hand and the inventory level.

With multiple locations in the evidence room, it’s hard to pinpoint where every item is located, especially those ones that have been in store for a very long time. Without proper auditing, these items might also be misplaced or lost eventually. Checking evidence details and auditing is no longer an exhausting process with the help of an evidence management system. These solutions can help with the easy location of items, automated management, auditing, and reporting.

Reasons to Adopt an Evidence Management System

  • Search option and visual map. Evidence management software includes a search feature that makes it simple to locate stuff. Others even have a visual map that shows you what’s going on in the evidence room from a bird’s eye view. There are also indicators that show where items are and the ability to move them between locations.
  • Activity history. It provides an activity history for auditing purposes. Information such as who, when, and why evidence is transferred, checked-in/out, or released is documented and accessible anytime for reporting.
  • Track miscellaneous inventory and supplies. Personnel can track not only evidence, but also miscellaneous supplies and inventories, such as lab supplies, equipment, forms, and packaging kits, that they need to conduct their jobs.

Visibility is crucial when controlling a large number of important items. You can’t just rely on a list that provides only basic information. By adopting a centralized system like this, agencies can keep the evidence room under control and preserve the integrity of each piece of evidence at the same time.

Managing the Inventory for Search and Rescue Supplies and Equipment

Rescue workers and emergency responders are the first to arrive on the scene after a disaster, often in unfamiliar surroundings and in inclement weather, ready to save lives and secure the environment to help protect the lives of those who come after them. Around piles of rubble, other debris, or collapsed structures, rescue workers and emergency responders may be involved in emergency medical operations involving victim rescue or body recovery.

Search and rescue (SAR) operations are extremely difficult. It has different sub-fields that can be deployed depending on the situation or geographical location, such as ground, sea, natural disaster, aerial, and mounted search and rescues. 

Due to the complexity and varying requirements of different operations, SAR teams require different supplies and equipment, which can be difficult to manage at times, particularly for those that are being moved constantly from one location to another.

Specialized vehicles, equipment, and supplies must be purchased and maintained (all are expensive tasks), and the logistics of managing these assets can be complex. Still, the constant demand and meticulous management for these supplies and equipment must be met in order for the SAR teams to function effectively.

Search and Rescue Supplies and Equipment

During operations, there are a lot of important things to consider but one of those is to make sure that the team is fully equipped with the essential supplies and equipment. There are items that come out from a storeroom and stay outside for a long time such as an individual response kit that is carried by the responder all the time and other items that come out only when needed. 

Personal protection and specialized equipment are the things that help the operations become successful. These items must be managed carefully and should be available immediately specially for operations where rapid response is necessary to maximize positive outcomes.

Ways to Manage SAR Supplies and Equipment

SAR  equipment consists of five types of equipment: medical, rescue, communications, technical support, and logistics. Task groups require certain allocation and the quantity depends on how small or big the groups are. 

It is essential to record the equipment’s maintenance history. To know if equipment requires maintenance, the SAR team should keep track of how the assets were used, for what purposes, and by whom. There are ways to keep track of this information, these are:

  • Manual tracking. The manual tracking process is often paper logs that can be easily crumbled and misplaced. This process usually misses detailed and important information which results in just guessing equipment’s required maintenance.
  • Automated Equipment Tracking. Automated tracking uses software or a system that records important information such as cost, location, movement, historical use, and maintenance details, as well as expiration dates for some items.

Improving Search and Rescue Inventory Management

Search and rescue has a dynamic inventory. It has varieties of assets and multiple locations designated for every emergency and operation. The SAR team’s primary job in every operation is to assist citizens who are in distress. When there’s an emergency, every responder is so focused on providing assistance, and oftentimes, they don’t even think about keeping track of the equipment that comes in and out of the storeroom.

Nowadays, manual tracking of assets is no longer recommended. It makes it impossible to record everything accurately and swiftly and usually results in a lack of efficiency in equipment tracking. 

Automated tracking or tracking using an equipment management system is the key to improving data records. Every supply and equipment is labeled with a barcode that can be quickly scanned during check-out or check-in. The team will no longer have trouble locating assets thanks to automation, as it will have records of who has them and when they were last used in the activity history. The team can also easily make a report by downloading the recorded information in the system. 

IT Asset and Inventory Management

What is IT Asset Management (ITAM)

ITAM is also known as IT inventory management. It ensures the organization’s resources are used efficiently to support the needs of users and business functions. Its process involves gathering detailed hardware and software inventory data, which is then used to make purchasing and asset utilization decisions. 

Having an accurate IT asset inventory allows businesses to make better use of their assets and avoid unnecessary asset purchases by repurposing existing assets. IT asset management also allows businesses to reduce the risks and costs associated with unknowingly launching new IT operations on outdated infrastructure foundations.

Traditionally, businesses have relied on spreadsheets when organizing IT inventory. This is a time-consuming process. The inventory catalog alone includes a lot of information such as product numbers, quantities, users, locations, and other information. It takes a long time to fill out a spreadsheet every time there is a change in inventory. This problem resulted in the birth of IT asset management software (ITAM) which provides automation that is more convenient and beneficial.

IT Asset Management (ITAM) softare

ITAM is in charge of the IT infrastructure. By tracking the status of each asset as it depreciates over time, it helps businesses in maximizing the value of IT equipment and software.

ITAM tool is very common nowadays, especially to companies that use numerous IT assets that can be challenging to monitor manually. What an ITAM tool

does is automatically detects and records the hardware and software information of computers and other devices on a network for management and compliance purposes. It’s a very powerful tool and fundamental in IT asset management. Whenever management requires computer or network data for an audit or even regular asset management, they can simply pull out information from the ITAM software.

In the past, people who manage IT assets used to spend their time on-site. They would walk around manually counting everything and looking for a spreadsheet that had the information they needed. Because of the arrival of modern technology, they do it a lot less now. They can now simply pull out the software that contains extensive and accurate asset information and filter out the items they need to inspect or report on.

ITAM Challenges

Despite the fact that ITAM tools can easily detect all devices and software connected to your network, there are still loophole in the process. What makes ITAM complicated nowadays is the fact that most employees now work from home. IT people monitor not only the devices they have but also how these devices are spread across multiple locations and users. They should maintain the right allocation of devices and make sure every asset is being useful to its assigned user. 

It’s crucial to be able to track down where your company’s assets are at any given time, not just the computers, but also the peripherals such as keyboards, mice, monitors, and headsets. Only then will you be able to effectively allocate and manage your company’s resources as well as make informed decisions about IT asset optimization and management.

What makes ITAM complicated nowadays is the fact that most employees now work from home, making tracking every asset practically difficult.

Increasing Inventory Visibility

With the current situation where most people work remotely, having inventory visibility is undeniably tough. Where your assets are located and who’s using which device are the common questions you may have. Whenever you need information about the quantity and location of each asset you have in the entire network, how confident are you that you’ll be able to locate them easily and make an accurate report about them? The following items might help you.

The Map

Inventory visibility plays a major role in a remote work environment. Making a visual drawing, a visual map that allows seeing the assets and their location is one of the things IT technicians would do to get more visibility. A map gives a comprehensive view of all assets in the IT bubble. It makes things easier and not confusing to look at because assets are placed on the map as they were in real life.

The Map

IT infrastructure can have multiple locations such as rooms, shelves, bins, vehicles, and remote users that require constant monitoring. Having a birds-eye view over your resources, knowing the quantity and who’s using them can help you better allocate assets to meet business needs. 

How it works is that all the IT assets discovered by the ITAM software in the network are automatically imported and synchronized to the inventory map. This way, you can track and organize them based on how they are assigned or moved in real life. 

When your inventory dashboard is a map, you can transfer or assign items by dragging and dropping them between locations. To ensure the asset counts are accurate and distributed properly, you can do quick cycle counts at any of the locations by looking at the location on the map.

Activity History

People that work at home, require multiple items to perform their job. Hundreds of employees multiplied by the number of assets can be cumbersome to monitor when moved between locations or users. To make things easier, a record of who has which items and documentation of activities and changes is a must-have. 

Having an activity history is great for a company that requires accountability to every asset they have. Activity history has a record of every change made including who made the changes, the date and time, and the assets involved. 

The Takeaway

Every business has IT assets that need to be monitored, hence, accurate IT asset management should be aimed. With numerous assets an organization has, it is important to consider the best way to minimize effort and errors as it affects the overall financial situation of the business. 

Automation is highly beneficial in capturing, analyzing, and reporting asset information. It allows operational processes and decision-making to be established based on accurate data. 

Like common inventory management, IT asset management requires a high level of asset visibility. 

Asset mapping is an emerging feature an inventory software can offer. It is like having a birds’ eye view, it helps to easily locate and count assets in multiple locations.

Activity history is another catch. It records information in every change and movement of assets within the organization.

Inventory in the Field

Field operations often cover large geographical areas, they also have remote warehouses, and trunk or van stocks. This type of business requires a meticulous way of managing the inventory. With multiple locations and a variety of small and large products, manual tracking is beyond difficult.

Field inventory is commonly associated with items that are always close to customers. These items are immediately available, either for sale or paid service, and are dispersed in multiple locations.

Field Inventory Management Challenges

1. Having the right product at the right time

When a business offers a type of service that relies on what the customers or the circumstance require, the availability of the correct items at the right time is highly valued. However, businesses sometimes overstock because of the fear of running out of supplies.

2. Excess stock

Some businesses tend to overstock because they have very little, to no way of looking at what they have in stock. They would repurchase even though the items they currently have are moving slow. This would cause the said items to expire and/or become scrap.

3. Too many small value items 

Small items with small values can be cumbersome. Optimization of every single inventory unit with small values, multiplied by several locations would require a lot of time and effort.

Beneficial Way to Manage Field Inventory

Inventory is one of the largest business assets. Traditional techniques of inventory management are effective, but that alone is no longer efficient, given the sudden changes in the environment and the different customer preferences.

The image above shows the WAREHOUSE, the FIELD 1 (yellow) that represents overstock, and the FIELD 2 (red) that represent stock out (these fields can also be company vehicles or mobiles that carry inventory for sales or services).

The traditional way to resolve this problem is to transfer some products directly from FIELD 1 to 2, or transfer items from the WAREHOUSE to FIELD 2, then transfer overstock items from FIELD 1 back to the WAREHOUSE or to other locations that require them. The traditional way is often forgotten because of the pressure to have the right product in stock at the right time, and not having inventory visibility

The key to inventory visibility is to have a very keen eye that oversees the locations and inventory levels in the overall operation. It would also help to have a centralized inventory management system that records all the changes made including the username, date, and time. All of these will help in inventory optimization and will lessen the cost of missing and lost inventories.

An introduction to technology such as an inventory management system is a great investment. It serves as the eye that oversees the entire operation. It also helps greatly in resolving common challenges, especially when the industry in questions requires detailed information of daily operation from multiple locations.

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