Excel for inventory management is risky

inventory management

Almost every small business starting out relies on Microsoft Excel to manage separate business functions. It’s an excellent business tool that is free that everyone already knows how to use, so why not use it for inventory management?

When it comes to inventory management, spreadsheets can be used for everything from manually updating when shipments arrive and are shipped out, to determining what items are in stock, when to replenish, and how much to order. Excel has plenty of valuable features capable of handling a start-up business’ inventory, as long as you put the time and energy into developing an effective governance strategy and template.

While it’s not uncommon to start with Excel for inventory management, it is important to remember that these templates are designed for a small number of products and limited variants. Excel works best when used appropriately and can negatively impact a business if relied on too much in situations where other tools would work better.

Using Excel as a low-cost inventory management solution

Inventory management templates are effective when setting up your inventory. If you have ever done a desperate Google search looking for a free inventory spreadsheet template, you know that there are a ton of options from which to choose. A basic template should include key columns like product numbers, product names, item descriptions, item price, cost or value, item stock, quantity to reorder, quantity sold, time to reorder, etc. Ultimately, you create your template based on your inventory management needs.

Unfortunately, the more columns you have, the more difficult it is to keep up with everything. And this brings us to some of the major risks (and stress) that come with keeping track of your supply and demand with Excel.

Here are five risks of using Excel for inventory management:

1. Making Mistakes

It is easy to make mistakes in Excel, but hard to find errors on sheets of numbers and data. To avoid them, you will need to have strict management, proper organization, and regular auditing practices in place for your inventory management spreadsheets. This can be a time-consuming and mind-numbing process, but it’s really only the way to stay on top of human error.

2. Out-of-Date Information

Excel is not a real-time inventory management solution, so you will never be able to see the real inventory value at that moment. When using Excel for inventory management, it’s important to make sure that it is updated as often as possible to avoid issues like overselling a product that you cannot then backorder.

3. Inaccurate Reporting 

One small mistake in a formula or miscalculation can have a huge impact on the rest of your numbers across multiple worksheets. You can use a few simple Excel formulas to calculate information automatically for total sales and total profit, but when it comes time to make recommendations based on that data, you need to be constantly checking and rechecking your calculations for accuracy.

4. Data Consolidation

One of the biggest issues people have with Excel is not being able to analyze historical data. It might not be a big deal in your first year of business, but as you grow and expand, the data you collect from multiple sources is gold. With it, you can track your sales based on the period for better inventory optimization in the future, etc. It’s certainly possible to manually consolidate your data, but it’s time-consuming and laborious – and there are easier ways.

5. Data Loss

Even though Microsoft has made huge improvements to Excel in the cloud, users are still infamous for saving spreadsheets to their desktop and forgetting to save it to the cloud or OneDrive. While this can be avoided with a strict set of rules and backups in place, it still causes a lot of complication and uncertainty to those involved in planning management.

Reap the benefits of a dedicated inventory management solution

The bottom line is that Excel does not work with medium to large inventory volumes.  Hundreds of columns are too complex, time-consuming, and difficult to keep up-to-date manually. If you have a growing inventory of products or want to handle multiple location tracking in real-time, a dedicated ERP system with inventory management capabilities will be necessary to save time and money in the long run.

We know that it’s hard to make informed decisions and grow your business without the right technology in place. Jet Global specializes in providing reporting, analytics, and budgeting solutions for Dynamics 365 Business Central ERP customers. With Dynamics 3365 Business Central, you get a dedicated inventory management system that grows with you, managing your sales, inventory management, accounting, and operational processes in one platform. With Jet Global, you get fast flexible dashboards and financial reports in Excel online. No more manual data consolidation. No more out-of-date information. No more risk.

Using Excel will allow you to cut costs at first, but eventually will result in too many inefficiencies and chaos. A better ERP and reporting solution will eliminate all of the risks included above and give you the tools you need to grow and be successful. For more information on Jet Global and the benefits of their solutions and how they integrate with Dynamics 365 Business Central, contact us on  info@allonline365.com or +27 (21) 205 3650.

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Resource Credit | Jet Global 

Creating Dashboards for Excel: The Limitations

dashboards

The purpose of business dashboards is to help you make quick calculated decisions based on raw data. Instead of combing through data from different applications and spreadsheets, a manager should be able to open up a dashboard and quickly get a visual update on a specific project.

When you have a dashboard that transforms your data and provides timely operational visibility, you are able to easily access, track, and respond to changes that impact performance – without any worries of inaccuracies or errors. This can apply from budgeting to project management to sales reporting.

Unfortunately, in the real world, many of us don’t have the right tools or technology in place to make this happen. So, when we can’t do something within our current business systems, where do we turn?

To the familiar tool, we all know and love – Excel.

The 5 problems with creating dashboards in Excel

To create a dashboard, you just need to be able to create different charts, tables, and other visual elements that give you a high-level overview of your data. As a flexible, cost-effective analysis tool, Microsoft Excel seems like a sensible solution when you’re starting out. Essentially it helps you take your data and transform it into useful information, very similar to the way a dashboard needs to work.

The other plus is that there isn’t a huge learning curve, unlike external software designed for data visualization and performance measurement. It all seems like a great plan, up until the point you experience some of the time-consuming headaches and inefficiencies of creating, customizing, and maintaining those dashboards in Excel.

Dashboard design is a complex process in Excel. You definitely need to have a certain skill level and a clear idea of what you’re building to come out of it with a functional dashboard. You need to lay the appropriate groundwork, and it’s very easy to make mistakes. But apart from the skill and time required to create a personalized dashboard, there are 5 areas of concern when relying on Excel alone for your dashboards:

1. Data Consolidation

To build a dashboard, your data needs to exist in Excel. That means if you have multiple data sources, you need to import it all into an Excel workbook and clean it on your own. This is one of the biggest advantages you will get if you invest in a business intelligence solution.

2. Version Control

Most managers will want to share an important dashboard with their team, so everyone is working towards a common goal. Distributing an Excel spreadsheet can have a few side effects though, including certain charts breaking and lack of version control.

3. Customization Options

When it comes to customizing a dashboard in Excel, you have to rely on the chart wizard. Unless you’re an Excel wizard yourself, this can be time-consuming and have formatting limitations. It’s definitely not a simple drag-and-drop experience that a business intelligence solution can provide.

4. Real-Time Updates

One of the major downfalls of Excel-based reporting is that it doesn’t show data in real-time. Unless you have a developer who can connect Excel to a database and automatically refresh data, you’re going to be relying on dashboards with old data.

5. Collaboration

When developing goals and identifying KPIs for a dashboard, it’s important to include other employees and managers in these bigger discussions. Like the real-time data problem, it can be difficult to collaborate with other members of your organization when creating dashboards in Excel.

Go beyond Excel with Jet Global

As a Microsoft Dynamics customer, the best way to start working towards performance improvement and reaching your goals faster is to consider a more robust solution to handle your dashboards. To become a performance-driven culture fueled by data and insight, you need to have better data management practices in place and a business intelligence solution that can connect all your data in one central location and transform it into an easy-to-digest format that helps drive instant decision-making and process adjustments.

To put the right information into the right hands, you can easily design and create a KPI dashboard by selecting queries and applying calculations within the BI tool itself. Most BI solutions come with a variety of pre-built dashboards and chart options. In Microsoft Dynamics solutions, KPIs can be set up through Power BI or another third-party BI tool that uses a live connection to the data source, like Jet Analytics. 

www.allonline365.com

Resource Credit | Jet Global 

Empowering investors with real-time data and insights in Excel

Microsoft, Nasdaq, and Refinitiv empower everyday investors with real-time data and insights in Excel

Financial investments are among the more important things to track in everyday life and millions of people choose Excel to manage their budgets and track their assets. To make this seamless, last year we introduced Stocks, a Data Type in Excel powered by artificial intelligence (AI), which turns a stock ticker into an interactive entity with layers of rich information like price, change, currency and much more.

We’re excited to announce we’re working with Nasdaq and Refinitiv to pull current financial information for the full range of U.S. exchange-listed equities, including stocks on the Nasdaq Stock Market, the world’s largest exchange company, and from Refinitiv, one of the world’s largest providers of financial markets data and infrastructure, right into Excel Stocks Data Type.

The stock Data Type turns Excel into a more robust tool for tracking personal investments, enabling you to track the latest stock prices, trading volume, and other financial information without leaving Excel to search outside sources. Now with trusted, real-time data from Nasdaq and Refinitiv, this becomes even better. Stocks in Excel now expands financial data to include bitcoin, bonds, international currencies, extended-hours pricing information and information about the company, like industry and company description, in addition to other previously available data like mutual funds and stock indexes, such as the Nasdaq Composite, Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and  more.

“Expanding the reach of real-time market data is essential to making markets more accessible,” said Oliver Albers, Senior Vice President and Head of Strategic Partnerships for Nasdaq’s Global Information Services. “Our collaboration with Microsoft is a significant step towards bringing important market information to individual investors. Microsoft’s focus on empowering individuals aligns perfectly with our mission to make financial markets more inclusive.”

“Anyone with an interest in financial information needs quick, reliable data to navigate today’s complex and fast-moving global markets,” said Brennan Carley, Global Head of Enterprise at Refinitiv. “Refinitiv has many years’ of experience in delivering data to financial professionals within Microsoft Excel and we are now delighted to give everyday investors access to these capabilities via our partnership with Microsoft.”

To understand more deeply how Stocks in Excel works, let’s look at the Microsoft stock. When you type in MSFT and click Stocks, Excel recognizes it as a stock and gives you an option to convert it into a rich entity linked with many properties of related information, including real-time attributes such as Price, Change, Last trade time, 52-week high/low, and other pricing information. You can choose to capture these attributes in different cells or use a preview of available categories. Imagine adding a list of ticker symbols from your stock portfolio in one column and having Excel provide the price and your daily gains or losses, refreshed with the click of a button.

By bringing together the power ofMicrosoft-backed data services with highly trusted sources of market information like Nasdaq and Refinitiv, we’re helping everyday investors like you access the same data as the market sees, enabling better financial literacy. And this is just the beginning: soon, you’ll be able to see historical data and automatically update the prices every few minutes.

We’re excited to continue our journey to continually improve Excel to help you get the most out of your data. Start tracking your personal investments using Excel for Office 365 today and this template to help you track your investments.

www.allonline365.com

Resource Credit | Microsoft 365 

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