Searching for Search Functions

Ironically, spreadsheets are designed to help organize lots of data and yet the more data you add to them, the less organized it can feel. The reason is obvious to many people who are trying to manage the inventory of an organization. When the company experiences rapid growth and success, it’s even worse. When the spreadsheets get more and more full of data, sometimes it can be a challenge to find the data you’re looking for. Inventory management software solves the problem beautifully.

Have you ever wanted to narrow down the long list on the spreadsheet based on certain criteria? There’s a few basic ways to do this. This article briefly explains a few ways to search general spreadsheets, such as Excel or Google Sheets. This article makes the point that searching spreadsheets for data is cumbersome and inadequate. For the function of data searchability, inventory management software is much better. The intended audience for this article is anyone who has a role in their organization that entails inventory management.

This article covers:

  1. The Find function in spreadsheets
  2. The Sort function in spreadsheets
  3. The Filter function in spreadsheets
  4. How Inventory Management Software works significantly better.

The FIND Function

You may have tried to search the entire spreadsheet by using CTRL + F and typing in the character string you are looking for. For example, on a spreadsheet of different products, say personal protective equipment (PPE), you might be looking for masks, so you’d try CTRL + F and type the word “mask”. This function would find every place on the spreadsheet where the word “mask” exists. But this would only highlight the word mask, nothing more.

The SORT Function

Sorting in spreadsheets is not quite as easy as using a CTRL button and letter. For example, let’s say you want to sort based on a column in Google Sheets. To sort a column, right click on the top of the column and then click where it says More. You would then want to scroll down and select either the alphabetical or reverse alphabetical option (A-Z or Z-A).That wasn’t so bad, only a few clicks. But still, if you ever need to sort the column based on something besides alphabetical, you’ve got more steps to complete. And if you want to reduce the items to only show cells with a certain criteria, you’ll have to use a filter. Filtering on spreadsheets is covered in the next section.

The FILTER Function

Again, the larger the quantity of data being added to a spreadsheet, the more challenging it is to access the data in certain ways. You might want to add a filter on the column. Let’s say you have a long list of products on a spreadsheet, and there are many details to each product spanning multiple columns. Putting a filter on a column is used when you are looking for something very specific. You want to get rid of everything else that is not part of what you are trying to see. This is especially useful when you have a large amount of items and the list requires quite a bit of scrolling. Not to mention, when you need to email or print some of the data but not all of it, you need to use the filter function.

The most commonly used spreadsheets are Excel and Google Sheets. They both have the ability to filter based on a column, and they both have the ability to filter more than one column at a time. So let’s take a look at filtering on Microsoft Excel. First, you need to select a cell that will be included in the range of what you want to filter. Then you click on the Filter button/symbol found in the Data tab. This gets you to the filtering stipulations screen in which you have many options of what and how you want to filter.

How Inventory Management Software Does It Better

One could argue that, in a way, Inventory Management Software (IMS; WMS) is merely a glorified spreadsheet. Well, the rebuttal of that argument is that the limitations of spreadsheets can speak for themselves. As the data grows, the spreadsheets shrink in effectiveness and efficiency. Therefore, a glorified spreadsheet is exactly what is needed.

There are a lot of major advantages to using better software for tracking products and processes. Such as, this type of software is used to create orders to receive against and pick against, thus automatically adjusting the levels of quantity and even locations of products in the building. But what some people who are still using spreadsheets to track their inventory are missing is that Inventory Management Software also contains a much easier and more powerful method for finding, sorting, and filtering inventory.

This feature alone drastically increases the speed of data analysis, the organization of reporting, and overall visibility of inventory compared to the average, overcrowded spreadsheets. In a nutshell, a good IMS/WMS has grids (think of grids as different pages of a spreadsheet document; these could be a grid of products, or accounts, or sales orders) that all have the power to find, sort, and filter all at the same time across multiple columns (columns such as products, their prices, the quantity on-hand, quantity allocated, expiration date).

So, if you wanted to find the cheapest size large N95 masks that were last received into one specific location out of your ten locations, you would narrow your list of products down by just a few clicks of the mouse over our interactive fluid columns. And you could export your specified list by one more click.

Let Flowtrac show you how easy it is to find, sort, and filter data grids in our robust, user-friendly software packages. Contact us via our website, by phone, or email. We provide you with a demonstration of how much more efficient your organization can become with intuitive inventory and tracking software.