Inventory and Accounting managed by exception

Mark Canes

Many people ask us about using email alerts to help manage their business more proactively or effectively. Email is so readily accessible that there's a temptation to use it as the main (or only) communication tool.

Now I've said this before, so I guess this counts as "saying it again":

  1. Yes, these days you can get email alerts on just about anything pertaining to your wholesale business as long as you have suitable inventory / accounting software, BUT:
  2. No, you should not get set up to receive alerts on any and every exception in your business. There's a better way to manage exceptions.

So what do I mean by exceptions? In a typical wholesale / distribution business, two of the most common daily events that may require corrective action are:

  1. Price overrides and margin exceptions: your sales people override the default price, and / or give the customer a price that reduces your actual gross margin below an acceptable level, and
  2. Inventory levels falling below the required minimum quantities.

Both of these (and many others) can be included in reports that you print on demand, but if you don't print the report for a few days then you receive the information too late to do anything useful about the exceptions. On the other hand, if you receive an email alert each time an exception takes place, you may end up with so many emails in your inbox that you don't have time to read them all, much less take remedial action.

The answer, my friend, is in scheduled exception reports. Taking our second type of exception, if during the day 10 different SKUs fall below minimum, instead of getting 10 separate emails during the day, you'd get one email listing all ten at the end of the day. Much easier to deal with.

But it gets even better: let's say there were also 6 SKUs from yesterday's report, that you had not yet placed an order for. These could show up again on today's exception report, as a reminder that you still have to deal with them.

My best advice on email alerts is to avoid all but the most important and time-sensitive ones, and for all other exceptions, use the scheduled exception report approach.