Digital platforms offer significant benefits over spreadsheets for inventory management. Yet, many companies are still using Excel to handle their forecasting and planning because it is familiar, and processes may be perceived as challenging to change. However, for companies that want to benefit from predictive analytics and seamless collaboration, spreadsheets do not offer sufficient functionality to keep up with the growing complexities of the supply chain world. In turn, modern solutions enable companies to increase operational efficiency and maximize profits.
According to a Gartner survey, 95% of supply chain professionals have already invested in or plan to invest in modern inventory management solutions in the coming years. But pitfalls are abundant in the digitization journey across technology, planning, and execution decisions, with 49% of supply chain professionals reporting they still comb data manually when it comes to making decisions.
In this blog, we analyze the benefits of switching from Excel for inventory management to an end-to-end Supply Chain Management solution.
Shortcomings of Using Excel for Inventory Management
Admittedly, Excel is a comfort zone for most. It is a widely available tool and allows users to sort and filter data. But is this solution enough for businesses in the future?
Let’s take a closer look at why you should leave Excel for inventory management in the past.
Little Automation – When using Excel, planners must make changes, updates, corrections, or data imports manually. Spreadsheets do not automate these processes and require many more hours of planners’ time spent on lesser data tasks.
Limited Collaboration – Data management in Excel is not convenient for multiple users since it lacks a specific access model. If several people are simultaneously working within a spreadsheet, planners are more likely to make errors, and it is impossible to track changes.
No Real-Time Monitoring – Excel requires planners to enter the data manually. Thus, data can be outdated, unreliable, and may not reflect current market conditions. Modern cloud-native platforms can directly integrate 1st and 3rd party data sources. Data flows in real-time and automatically updates without waiting for multiple, time-intensive, error-prone Excel update jobs.
Too Many Errors – As spreadsheets grow, they become very fragile, and the smallest of errors in data lead to huge losses for companies. Errors can creep into spreadsheets within any company: people mistype words or transpose digits, and as spreadsheets are imported or combined, the data becomes old and outdated. Without the functionality of a real-time solution, data trapped in Excel Spreadsheets are limited and prone to error.
Lack of AI-based Operations – Excel spreadsheets do not use artificial intelligence or machine learning. Modern solutions, such as Vanguard and our proprietary algorithms, automatically sift through options and outliers to outperform manual decisions. AI looks for correlations and corrections across data, reducing analytics time and manual error. Vanguard enables companies to leverage complex AI modeling that selects the correct forecast method, runs multiple simulations, and optimizes data across the organization.
Why Modern Solutions Outperform Excel
Modern inventory management solutions significantly improve business outcomes for companies in the ever-changing world of inventory management. Solutions such as Vanguard Predictive Planning™ reduce the time and resources consumed by manually imputing data into Excel spreadsheets.
By leveraging a modern solution, companies achieve resilience that overcomes uncertainty through probability-based collaborative planning.
Here are some advantages of the Vanguard Predictive Planning™ platform:
- End-to-end supply chain management provides a unified, consumable view of any action’s impact.
- AI-based predictive modeling is built-in and included in every platform package for better resilience against variability.
- Automated, easily configurable workflows save time that allows planners to focus on what matters.
- A collaborative, cloud-native, secure platform that shares and tags essential information to alert colleagues to findings – both within an organization or with a client or supplier.
Excel spreadsheets may be comfortable, but they are too limited, time-consuming, and unpredictable for growing businesses. While moving to a modernized solution may seem daunting at first, Vanguard Predictive Planning™ was designed by and for Excel lovers. Vanguard allows users to use their favorite Excel features and formulas, transformed by an automated AI engine, collaboration hub, mesh network, and so much more – making outcomes 1,000% more powerful.
Do you want to benefit from migrating from Excel for inventory management to a modern solution but not sure how to begin? Download the recording of our webinar, Breaking Up with Excel with Concord Foods. Hear from Jen Moore, Sales Planning Manager at Concord Foods, as she discusses the challenges to digital transformation, the advantages of an automated, collaborative, AI-based planning platform, and how they achieved success with Vanguard in less than three months.