When we’re working at the ground level, it’s easy to focus on the need that’s right in front of us and lose sight of the bigger picture. If the first question you ask a software vendor is “Do you have something that can help me manage my seed inventory?” you might fall into this category. Stop and ask yourself: “What do I expect the software vendor to provide as a solution?” Do you need something that only helps you manage seed inventory? Or are you looking for software that can help support and grow your seed business?

If we stop and reflect on all the other aspects of a seed business that impact inventory, then I expect you might realize an application that only solves the challenge of managing seed inventory is not going to go as far as you want.

You also need to manage all the other activities and processes that impact inventory, otherwise you’ll still have disjointed ways of working with data that’s distributed in various silos and staff chasing their tail trying to keep all the different spread sheets and systems synchronized and up to date.

For example: If your inventory system requires you to enter the quantities of seed that have been shipped to know the remaining inventory, but the order and billing for those shipments is elsewhere (such as a different system or a spreadsheet), then you’re updating the same information in multiple places — all for the same transaction. It is important that a bill be sent for the seed, so you do that first. But how long does it take for someone to remember to update your inventory system with the shipment? If this does not happen immediately, the system is broken and your inventory is no longer accurate. If you cannot rely on the “inventory system” to tell you what you have, what is the point in the system?

Consider asking the software vendor the following: “Do you have something that can help me be more efficient and effective so that I can grow my seed business?” Then you may get a real solution that helps you manage everything from your expected production and grower payments all the way through shipping and billing the customer. Orders and shipments automatically update inventory in real time. When you look at what you have in inventory, you can also see if there is sufficient production to meet demand.

Don’t let the trees block the view of the forest; the investment you make has to benefit your business as a whole.

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