Business & Leadership Behaviors Project Management Thoughts

KonMari & The Challenges of Automating Your Inventory – Part 3: After the Inventory

The last few weeks we’ve been talking about Stuff.  As a society, we haven’t exactly embraced the Less is More concept – and we all seem to be overflowing with too much Stuff.

The irony is that in the middle of all of this Stuff is a repeated feeling of not having what we need when we need it.  Ever have the thought “I don’t have anything to wear” when staring at a closet full of clothes?  Ever spend hours looking for a specific tool only to give up and head to Home Depot just so you can get the job done?

You know you have clothes – they’re right in front of you.  You know you have tools – you have a workbench full of them in the basement.  But what you see in front of you isn’t fulfilling your immediate need.  And that is when stress and spending gang up on you.

I’ve been watching the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.  The topic and approach have hit me from a couple of different angles.

The first is that my firm, HL Group, is in the asset inventory business – it’s what we do.  We manufacture a mobile inventory solution that helps businesses create and maintain visibility of their Stuff.

The second angle is that, like most homes in the US, I have piles on my kitchen counters and tubs of lord knows what in the basement.  As someone who spends her weeks helping organizations get their arms around what they have and where they have it – you’d think I’d be on top of things at home.  But what can I say, the Cobbler’s kids have no shoes, right?


The Anxiety & Overwhelm Combo

Over the last couple of weeks, we talked about the WHY of doing an inventory and the HOW of getting it done.  While it may seem obvious why we’d need to review what we have – many of us get caught up in the anxiety and anticipated stress of the actual event and back out.  Those that do get started either don’t go in with a good plan of attack or get overwhelmed when the reality of the challenge sets in – and they quit.

In my opinion, the keys to getting through your inventory (especially the first one) – is to first keep that WHY front and center.  There are tangible – financial – reasons to endure this.  Keeping that in mind can help keep you motivated.

The second key is to ensure you know what you’re getting into and have a well thought out plan of attack.  Granted, I’m a project manager with a somewhat abnormal affinity for plans.  But a plan for your inventory activity can help make the whole process move much more smoothly.


The Post-Survival Now What

Once you get through that physical inventory – and I’m confident that you will – there are a few more steps to take if you want to wring the most value out of that effort.  So after you finish that celebratory team pizza, there are a few things that need some review:

The Data  Once you have all of your results in, the data work begins.  Review the inventory activity results and identify the discrepancies.  The first inventory will likely produce MANY.  That’s actually a good thing.  One of the key goals is to understand the reality of what you have and where you have it – not just what your reports and systems thought it looked like.

When you know (and trust) the truth of the data, then you are able to take action on it.

The Process  How did the inventory process go?  Get feedback from everyone involved including the inventory team, their supervisors, the departments that supported you and any other staff that were in any way involved.  Taking a little time to solicit input can provide some valuable direction for the next inventory event – and have the added benefit of ensuring that all involved feel like they have a voice in the process.

If the process continues to improve, the inventory events will also improve and the experience will get exponentially less painful.  And let’s face it – if it’s easy, it gets done.

The Actions   Once you know what you have and where you have it – do something about it.  There were likely items needing repair (get them fixed and report their readiness), needing disposal (get rid of them and remove them from your asset pool), and in the wrong location (move them and record their new location).

The data that you now have (and trust) can also be used to review budgets, operational strategies, adjust insurance policies to remove coverage on disposed items and so much more.


Reap the Benefits

There are many benefits to getting (and keeping) your arms around what you have and where you have it.  Marie Kondo wouldn’t be a household name if there wasn’t a need – and confirmation of happiness with her results.

The same is true for our businesses.  In this constantly changing world, we all need to be operating as efficiently and effectively as possible.  That’s not possible if we’re wasting hours looking for tools or blowing our budgets on panic purchases.

Taking the time to invest in staying on top of our Stuff will pay off in time, money and stress reduction.  Not a bad ROI, don’t you think?



Anne Hale is the Director of Client Services at HL Group, Inc., a premier provider of mobile inventory management, RFID and supply chain solutions. She manages our client engagements, helps with sales and marketing and is attacking the Stuff situation in her basement.