How to Scope Your Inventory Clients’ Needs
Going into any task requires some background information. When working with a client and their inventory system, you need to understand as much about how they operate as you can so you can tailor their new system around their needs. We’re here to show you how to decipher what your inventory client really needs for their systems.
Understand your Client
Firstly, you’ll need to figure out whether your client’s needs should be scoped. To identify whether a scoping session is needed, there are a range of factors which could determine if it’s necessary. One of them is the sector they work within. Scoping sessions are required for any business operating in distribution-based industries such as:
The size of the business also matters. If your client employs over 50 people, or is worth over £30million, scoping your client’s needs will not be required. Their size might determine the systems that they operate – here are some of the types of systems that these businesses will use:
- Server-based operations
- Bespoke/semi-bespoke approach
You’ve understood your inventory client’s profile, now it’s time to find out what they want. This stage is all about assessing what your client’s primary requirements are. What are the issues with their current system? How could they be solved? However, during the initial contact, you should gain an understanding of any constraints that the process could have. These could be regarding the total budget or the timeframe in which the job should be completed.
Your client will also need to put some work in and contribute to the process with you. They need to leave the initial meeting with food for thought, as well as collecting as much information to give to you as they can. This can be achieved through a full business review, going through all current systems, inventory spreadsheets, and requirements for improvement. During this stage, all departments of their business should be consulted before returning to you with findings. Screenshots of their current systems will also be very helpful, as they give you a visual representation of what the issues are and what could be improved upon.
Now’s the perfect time to start asking the client in-depth questions by setting up a scoping meeting. In this session, you can go into greater detail so that you can provide the service your client wants. Your questions should be about any relevant department to the improvements you intend to make. These could include:
- Product Details: What types of products do they sell? How are they assembled? How can they trace their products?
- Current Systems: What systems are currently in use? How long have they been in place? What are the main frustrations?
- Sales: How do they process their orders? Which sales channels do they use? How do they forecast their sales?
- Purchasing: How many suppliers do you use? What other documentation do they use? Do they provide dropshipped products/back-2-back orders?
- Warehousing: How many warehouses do they have? Where are they located? Are their internal processes paper or digital?
- Manufacturing: Are their products manufactured inhouse or are they outsourced? What current systemisation do they use? How are they tracking their people/machines?
After getting a good idea of what your client is after, you will need to sort your findings into two categories: ‘must-have’ and ‘nice to have’ requirements. It’s natural for your clients to be tempted by something new – your task is to bring them back and let them know what they need in order to meet their requirements, and what features would serve as a luxury. Then you’ll need to analyse said requirements and underline the steps needed to complete them.
For more information, watch our webinar on scoping sessions for you clients.