The Importance of Inventory Management

Jeff Presnall | April 25, 2023

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Accurate inventory management is one key to profitability, customer satisfaction, and business success in commercial and in-plant printing.

The main problem? That first word: accurate. Simple in concept, but diabolically difficult in execution.

Accurate data allows for informed decision-making and more profitable results. But keeping inventory data accurate using manual systems and processes is a logistical and operational nightmare—if it’s possible at all.

In this post, we’ll show you just how important inventory management is to commercial print shops and in-plant printers. Then we’ll review how Avanti Slingshot’s™ automated web-based inventory management software can empower you to keep accurate control of your inventory, reclaim profitability and confidence, and better meet customer expectations.

Inventory Control Issues Plague the Print Industry

Throughout the commercial and in-plant printing industries, inventory control issues are the norm. Without an automated inventory management solution, print professionals are forced to handle inventory manually.

Controlling inventory by hand (or perhaps by best-guess eyeballing) is neither accurate nor efficient, but without a viable alternative that actually works with the systems you already have in place, manual seems like the only option.

Inventory control issues carry costs—sometimes significant ones. When you can’t output an order to meet the delivery date or on the specified paper, the customer experience suffers. When a press goes offline because you’ve run out of substrate or ink or any other consumable inventory item, that’s time (and revenue) you’ll never reclaim.

Paper-based, manual inventory workflows can hamper profitability, too: when you don’t know the exact cost of reordering, you can’t produce accurate, reliably profitable estimates. If the price of a type of paper has shot up, an estimate based on last month’s or last year’s price is going to lose you money—or lead to an embarrassing conversation with the customer.

Want to dive deeper on estimating? Download our eBook Estimating’s Special Sauce to keep learning!

The good news is there’s a viable solution: Avanti Slingshot™. Our print MIS includes powerful web based inventory management tools that put you in the driver’s seat and help you automate so you’re finally working proactively, not reactively.

Finally Proactive: Avanti Slingshot Puts You in the Driver’s Seat

Avanti Slingshot is the missing link in your inventory management. Slingshot customers gain powerful insights that can’t be replicated with manual processes, including:

  • Understanding actual current costs vs. estimates
  • Knowing exactly when to reorder
  • Automatically receiving PO requests to be processed
  • Visibility into inventory data by warehouse, category, and more

Most importantly, Slingshot customers gain a powerful automated inventory management system, one that doesn’t just tell you when to reorder—one that can do most of the reordering for you!

For orders coming in, Slingshot will automatically generate a PO request for your team to act on if inventory isn’t available. Vendor emails and costs are both in the system already, giving your team members the ability to communicate faster and more accurately with vendors.

The Power to Track Raw and Finished Goods

With web based automated inventory management via Slingshot, print shops finally gain the capacity to track not just raw goods, but finished goods as well (and anything in between).

Is tracking finished goods really worth it, though?

We believe it is. Not only that but with Avanti Slingshot powering your automated inventory management, the difference in resource commitment is minimal. You’ll only need nominally more time or resources to track finished goods along with the raw goods.

For complete inventory management, print shops must track both raw and finished goods. Here’s why.

Raw Goods

Your raw goods are the fuel for production. Your goal is to consistently fulfill orders and keep the presses running. Neither happens if there isn’t enough substrate: you just can’t get jobs out the door without it.

Finished Goods

It’s tempting to think of finished goods as sitting on a truck rolling out to your customer. If that’s all finished goods are, then we might agree that tracking provides little value.

But finished goods are more complex than that. Some might be warehoused, awaiting a buyer—or warehoused and already sold. Others are used for subsequent processes, feeding back into production workflows alongside raw goods.

If you can’t find warehoused finished goods (or, worse, they aren’t there at all), you can’t sell or provide those goods. And if you don’t have enough of the print material that feeds back into production, workflows get held up, and production stops.

In other words, to paraphrase what Peter Drucker (never) said: if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. When you know the status and levels of both raw and finished goods, you can make quicker decisions and better help your customers.

Start Your Journey Toward Automated Inventory Management Today

Upgrading to a modern, comprehensive print MIS is an investment, and the process takes time. Avanti Slingshot is customized to every customer’s print environment and existing workflows and systems. The process starts with a detailed Workflow Evaluation, then if we’re a good fit for your print shop, we’ll begin a discovery stage to dive into your specific needs.

During this period, we’ll conduct detailed pre-sales analysis and provide you with customized benchmarks for materials so that from day 1 of operating with Avanti Slingshot, you’ll be operating on real data for reorder points, optimum stocking levels, economic order quantities, and more.

This is critical because, as I always say:

"As a former business owner, one of the biggest values a system like this brings to clients is the availability and reliability of accurate data.”


If you’re ready to start your journey toward available, reliable, accurate data powering a transformational automated inventory management system, get started now with a free customized workflow evaluation.