Does Excel Inventory Management Work?
Maybe…until your spreadsheet turns into a monster!
Since many of TRXio’s clients have used Excel inventory management in system in the past, we are frequently asked if inventory control in Excel is a viable solution? We decided to break down the pros and cons for you.
Excel Inventory Management Pros
- Customization: Microsoft Excel offers total customization, meaning it is possible to create an Excel inventory spreadsheet to track just whatever you want; however you want.
- Low cost: Since you likely already have Excel installed on your computer, the program won’t cost you much.
- Familiarity: Practically everyone already knows how to use Microsoft Excel and is comfortable with the program.
Excel Inventory Management Cons
- Complicated reports: As your inventory grows, your inventory spreadsheet will require intermediate-to-advanced Excel skills, including the ability to create pivot tables, etc.
- Cost of Your Time: You will need to invest many hours to create a reasonably functional tool in Excel. And, there is no guarantee that it will be a viable long-term solution.
- Your spreadsheet might turn into a monster: As you continually add data to your inventory spreadsheet, it will likely become a monster, potentially containing hundreds of columns, pivot tables, etc. It will become increasingly difficult to manage with too much data, too many sheets and too much scrolling.
- Unable to protect data: There is not a way to protect data in Excel so formula cells might be inadvertently altered or lost.
- No traceability: Microsoft Excel does not offer a way to track who entered data, who made changes to data, etc. This means there is no data audit trail, which can be critical.
- Non-code validated: The data is not code validated (i.e. a can of soda vs. soda can, two different items that should be the same)
- Limited knowledge: There is usually only one user who knows how the inventory tracking spreadsheet works, usually the person who created it. What happens if this person is unavailable when needed?
- Single access: Excel is not made for multiple users, so only one person may access to the spreadsheet at a time.
- Limited reporting functionality: Excel inventory management becomes really painful when it is time to run a detailed inventory report since the system has very limited reporting functionality.
In summary, Excel inventory management may work for tracking a small inventory with a limited number of products. However, as your inventory grows and your spreadsheet turns into a monster, it will likely become too difficult and time consuming to manage.
If your business has reached the Excel point of no return, you will want to explore a more robust inventory management system, including TRXio. TRXio (pronounced “tracks-i-o”) is a scalable inventory management solution for small businesses. The product helps you organize inventory, create consistency and minimize costs while providing you accurate and real-time reports, analytics and data on the status and item detail of your products, inventory and equipment. The product also allows you to have multiple users. Please contact us at 844-to-track for more information on TRXio.
Answers to Other Inventory Questions:
Other Inventory Management Techniques: