How to Prepare for Physical Inventory Counts

You and your employees may groan whenever it’s time to do a physical inventory count. This task is tedious, time consuming, and quite frankly boring. However, it often has to be done for accounting and auditing purposes. A physical inventory count lets you know if the items in your warehouse’s inventory management software match what you actually have on the shelves. You may also need to do a physical inventory of your own warehouse equipment from time to time to make certain you have everything you need and that it’s in good shape.

One thing you can do to make this task a little less painful is to properly prepare for your inventory count. Here are a few tips that will help you and your team complete your physical inventory more quickly and accurately.

Put Someone in Charge

It doesn’t have to be you, but you need to designate someone to be in charge of the inventory process. In fact, it may be best if it isn’t you—as the warehouse manager, you’re going to have many other tasks on your plate, so it may be better if you have someone who can devote their full attention to taking inventory. Whoever is in charge of the inventory needs to have full authority over the process, even if it means overriding someone who is technically higher up. That’s the only way the inventory process will be able to go smoothly.

Have a System

If you have an inventory management program in use, you probably already have a system in place. Each pallet or piece of inventory needs to have a number assigned to it. That makes it easier to track and count. Otherwise, if may get listed by two different names, and that can be very confusing and lead to inaccurate counts.

You also need to have a system for going through the inventory and checking off what’s been done. You may start at one end of the warehouse and work your way to the other end, or in some cases, you may actually do certain aisles first. No matter what, make sure everyone involved knows what has been counted and what hasn’t.

Remember that the Warehouse Doesn’t Shut Down

That means you’re going to have inventory coming in and moving out while you’re doing your physical count. Be sure to have a process in place to take that into consideration and account for these changes in your count. Your other option is to try to minimize or stop shipments and intake for the time it takes to do a physical count, but that may not be an option.

Counting Your Own Inventory

If you’re taking a physical inventory of your own equipment, including things like forklift spare parts, yard ramps, etc., be sure not to double-count items that your employees are currently using. This type of inventory may be best done by having a few people come in early or stay late so you can count items while they’re not in use.

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