Mobile inventory management software allows you to track assets and inventory using iOS or Android smartphones with the inventory management mobile application installed. You can now replace traditional barcode scanners / mobile computers with the smartphones for barcode / qr code scanning, data entry and look up. Inventory management mobile application linked to a cloud software creates a powerful inventory and asset management system. With the minimal time and money investment you can track assets and inventory anywhere, and provide real time asset and inventory information to all authorized employees.
Mobile Inventory Management, Asset Tracking With The Smartphones
Mobile inventory and assets are constantly moving between storage locations, employees, clients, service vans or job sites.
You need to have mobile devices to track inventory and assets movements and inventory stock changes.
That's when mobile inventory management software comes into play. It allows you to
track assets and inventory in rel time using a smartphone and a mobile application for barcode scanning, data entry and look up.
You can use mobile computers specifically created for the field inventory management, or you can use
regular smartphones or tablets and save money on purchasing expensive inventory management hardware.
There are different kinds of the inventory management software systems that have mobile functionality built into them. Here is a summary of what they are: hopefully this overview will help you decide what type of mobile inventory software might work best for your situation.
Mobile-Optimized Inventory Management And Asset Tracking Software Systems
If you are subscribed to a web based inventory management and asset tracking software, you can likely use it on a tablet without any special changes. However, if you want to use a web based inventory management system on a smartphone and the web pages are not mobile-optimized, the inventory software will be very hard or impossible to work with.
Some inventory and asset tracking software vendors solve this problem by providing a mobile-optimized software version. If this is the case, you will get the same inventory management functionality in the mobile and desktop versions of the software. You will need to use a mobile browser to access the inventory application on a smartphone, type in a web address or use a bookmark. Importantly, you will not be able to take advantage of the smartphone hardware capabilities that are useful for the field inventory management and asset tracking. These capabilities include barcode and qr code scanning, taking photos, capturing GPS location of the inventory transactions or capturing an electronic signature.
Inventory Management And Asset Tracking Software With Native Mobile Application
Native mobile applications are written for a specific smartphone platform (android, iOS, windows phones). You download native mobile applications from a respective application store (Apple App Store, Google Play). Once the inventory management application is downloaded to your mobile device you can open it by clicking on its icon. Native mobile applications tend to be faster and more responsive than the mobile-optimized web sites. There are several types of the inventory management mobile applications and / or asset tracking mobile applications that you can encounter:
- Hybrid Inventory Management Mobile Application
Hybrid mobile applications generally mix native functionality with the mobile-optimized web pages embedded in the application frame. Some inventory management applications will simply include mobile-optimized web site into the framework of a native application without including any native functionality. In essence such inventory and asset tracking applications work as a mobile-optimized web site. The only difference is that you will download a mobile application from the respective application store and open it by clicking on the application icon.
You may encounter quite a few inventory management mobile applications like this. It is simply much easier and cheaper to produce a mobile-optimized version of a web based inventory software and embed it in a native application "frame" on all smartphone platforms. As with the mobile-optimized web sites these inventory management applications will usually lack native smartphone hardware capabilities.
- Stand Alone Native Mobile Applications For The Inventory Management And Asset Tracking
Stand alone inventory management mobile applications are the ones that you can download and use by themselves. They are not connected to a cloud inventory software and do not have a central database / data storage. Due to the absence of the server-based capabilities these inventory management applications are very basic, and cannot cover the requirements of an average business. They can suit a single person company who need very limited inventory options, such as entering inventory items into the system and updating inventory count.
It is also important to understand that although it is convenient to be able to enter and lookup inventory and assets on a mobile device, some functions of the asset tracking or inventory management software are simply not suitable for the mobile application. Reports, inventory system setup that requires large data entries, import and export of inventory data, etc. are the functions that belong to the office computer with a big screen and a keyboard. Standalone inventory management mobile applications also have the same drawback as the desktop inventory management systems: inventory data are entered and accessed by a single person and are not easily shareable.
- Native Mobile Applications That Extend Functionality Of The Cloud Asset And Inventory Software
These inventory management mobile applications do not simply copy existing inventory and asset tracking software to the mobile device. Instead, they extend a cloud inventory software to include functionality that makes tracking assets and inventory faster and easier, especially in the field and other out-of-the-office locations.
Field employees who deal with managing inventory and tracking assets usually need to process inventory and assets transactions, check inventory stock, access and collect data on an asset. These functions naturally belong to the inventory mobile application on a smartphone. Smartphones' capabilities of the QR code or barcode scanning, taking photos, capturing GPS location, capturing signature, sending data to the cloud and availability of the mobile forms for data collection are all used to enable real time efficient asset and inventory tracking.
Functions that are usually done in the office - setting up the inventory management system, importing / exporting inventory data, reviewing inventory and asset reports - are done using a web based dashboard.
For most businesses native mobile application that extends the functionality of a cloud inventory management software system provides the most value. Cloud invenrory management software with a supplementary mobile application provides a centralized real time access to the inventory data for all team members, and enables fast and efficient asset and inventory tracking in the field or warehouse.
Mobile Inventory Management And Asset Tracking Takeaways
Mobile asset tracking and online asset tracking are not mutually exclusive. The same is true for the mobile inventory management vs online inventory management. Instead, a good mobile inventory management system will combine a web based dashboard with the inventory tracking mobile application, so that each task is performed on the most suitable platform.
Inventory management tasks that are performed outside of the office (in the field, in the warehouse, on the factory floor) are better suited for the smartphones,
which can be easily carried along. These tasks may include:
- processing asset or inventory transactions (stocktaking, sale, assets check in and check out, recording assert or inventory transfer)
- checking inventory stock
- checking asset specifications
- filling out inventory and assets related form
- documenting production process
Native inventory management mobile applications that use smartphone capabilities (qr code / barcode scanning, taking photos, recording GPS location, capturing electronic signatures) are preferable to the mobile-optimized web inventory software without these capabilities.
On the other hand, inventory and assets management tasks that are performed by the administrative staff in the office:
- setting up inventory software
- entering inventory into the system
- importing / exporting assets and inventory
- reviewing inventory reports
belong to the web dashboard. These inventory management tasks are not well suited for mobile phones due to their small screens and processing power.
The best mobile inventory system will combine a mobile application for the field inventory management and an administrative web interface for the inventory system setup and reporting.