I’ve said it over and over: staying on top of your part master and keeping those part numbers straight and up to date, is not only important for keeping your inventory in check and your trucks on the road, but for keeping your costs in line as well.
In my last post, The Problem with Bad Part Numbers in Your Item Master, I talked about the two ways having part numbers in your item master can be costing you much more money on service and parts than you thought. In this article we are going to explore how “garbage” data gets into your part master in the first place, and how to keep it out of there.
Bad parts data can sneak into your master in a couple of ways, but the biggest culprit is the lack of a well thought out (and firmly adhered to), process. Too often, a company will allow anyone to enter a part into the system. And while this may seem like a good idea that saves time and manpower, much of the time it can result in mistakes. Mistakes that happen because someone is rushed, unfamiliar with the entry system, or at the very worst, just plain careless. (Not that any of your employees are careless...)
You’ve probably experienced a few of these in your own part master: The letter O is entered instead of a zero. Or an “S”is keyed when it should have been a “5.”Someone enters the dealer part number, and someone else uses another supplier’s number. One of our customers that didn’t have a specific part number entry system in place found their employees had created 204 different part numbers, all for one single part. And that didn’t just cause confusion between their different locations, they found that they were paying 82 different prices to the different suppliers for that part. Plus they were continually ordering parts they already had in stock under a different number. All money that was flushed down the drain, not to mention all the money sitting on the stock shelves.
So how do you stop this “Garbage In, Garbage Out” syndrome? You need to develop and implement a process for entering everything—parts, suppliers, and prices—into your part master.
How do you get started developing that system?
Here are some of the most important steps a successful process must contain:
- One person, and one person only, must be responsible for all parts entry. And for speed of entry, multiple people may do the entries, but the person responsible must approve them all. Most fleet management systems allow for parts to be entered and ‘staged’ until approved before they become part of the Parts Master.
- Develop a standard for descriptions. To get the most out of your fleet management system, good descriptions make for fast, accurate searching when looking for an existing part.
- Develop a standard for suppliers. We use the ATA VMRS codes key 34 that is a standard for all parts suppliers.
- Audit entries daily. Most systems have a standard report that lists new parts or suppliers, as well as parts that were changed or updated. It’s best to check these every day, so you can catch errors and correct them as soon as they happen.
Is it a big job to put a process in place for your part master? Yes it is. But the companies who have implemented a “Data Governance” program for their companies have reaped big rewards over time. And that translates into bottom line dollars.