Star Wars and Inventory Control — What lessons the Saga holds for the businesses

Originally published on Capterra

Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations. — Steve Jobs

All businesses have a collection of assets and inventory items they need to maintain, and with the right solution in place, you can gain more control over your assets and greater return on your investment. Carrying out an effective inventory control system is a must for businesses. It automates the management of assets and tracks goods and inventory items.

Effective inventory management reduces losses and increases productivity. It should come with a number of productivity boosters including maintenance, reservations, custom data options, data storage and backup, reports, integrations, etc. Some inventory management software are equipped with an asset tracking module to ensure proper inventory control.

You may ask why it is so important to have an inventory control system for your business. Without one, you could miss out the following benefits:

  • Improved inventory control
  • Organized collaboration between employees
  • Reduced equipment downtime
  • Lower instances of theft
  • Lower chances of asset/inventory misplacement
  • Reduced time and cost

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a saga was born and it was epic.There were valiant heroes, powerful villains, and explosive battles. That saga is Star Wars. It introduced us to the Republic, Rebels, the Galactic Empire, and the Trade Federation. For me, as a sci-fi fan, Star Wars was my mythology. The kid in me will never get enough of it.

But what’s the connection between inventory management and Star Wars? I want to take Star Wars as an example to illustrate some of the strengths of inventory management. I will point out scenarios where they (Federation, Rebels, Republic, and Empire) could really have used an inventory control and management software to avoid blunders by maintaining inventory in the best way possible!

Star Wars and Inventory Management, missing it was

A few weeks ago, some guests visited the Oscars from a galaxy far, far away. Today. I have revisited the all the Star Wars films (tough work, I know) and their characters’ adventures. I discovered many inventory control and management lessons that reflect some important advice for Star Wars fans in the real world. Like, without a proper inventory control and management system, how well the Republic, Senate, Federation, Resistance and Galactic Empire did, and what could have been done better with the existence of an efficient inventory management system?

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. — Colin Powell

Based on my experience with three of the top inventory control software, I jotted down some notable inventory control points and features of an inventory management software as illustrated in scenarios from episode I to VII. Like Yoda said, “Always pass on what you have learned.”

Just sit back and enjoy the read, Chewbacca-style!

#1: Important to maintain, your inventory is

Improved inventory management can lead to increased revenue, lower holding and handling costs, and better cash flows. In the case of Star Wars, it is easily noticeable that they have a lot of inventory to maintain and account for on both sides of the battle. Starting from the registered and unregistered vehicles/ships, portable communication devices, protocol to astromech, army and regular droids, remote probes, scanning probes, starships, weaponry, life pods, and so much more.

Things would have been definitely a lot simpler and easy to figure out if all parties had managed their inventory perfectly. They could have avoided having their ships stolen, their droids being put on sale by the Jawas, and they could have located registered ships.

Well, a web based application would have done wonders for them, as it’s accessible across the galaxy.

Then comes the thousands of Stormtroopers, resistance pilots, and the Federation’s droid army. An inventory management software also supports users’ data storage and asset assignments, which would have been really helpful in determining who checked out the empire’s ship or accessed the archives or assigned a trooper to a job.

These inventory control systems categorize your inventory into three different types (i.e. assets, inventory, and asset stock). You can add vehicles as assets, toxic darts as inventory, and portable communication devices as asset stock.

Figuring out where to put your items? Click here.

#2: Hard to find a Vendor, for Starship’s Spare Parts in Tatooine is

In Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace, while escaping a hostile blockade, two Jedi knights along with Naboo’s Queen Amidala find themselves stranded on Tatooine due to their damaged starship. The breakdown added barriers to reaching the Republic, like finding a vendor to buy the hyper-drive generator from, having the currency to pay for it, and managing insecure and distorted communication. The Empire had the upper hand here — the more time it took to arrange the parts for the Jedi, the easier it was for the Sith Lord’s apprentice to track the starship.

Solution in this World? Inventory Management systems enable businesses to add data about their vendors to repair continuous service and maintenance issues. Vendors who provide repair and maintenance services can also be tracked.

If Tatooine had an inventory management system or the Jedis were keeping a track of vendors who could provide parts for the starship in Tatooine, their journey could have been a lot simpler and Anakin wouldn’t have had to race in a dangerous gamble. Knowing what kinds of parts a starship requires is a tricky thing, but an inventory management software makes it easy. You can add an asset, its specs, and additional information in custom fields to make sure you don’t miss out on anything.

If R2-D2 was a staff member, you could measure its performance via custom reports and award it on a performance basis, in case you missed the real time instances.

#3: Impossible to locate, the planet Kamino is

In Episode 2 — Attack of the Clones, to locate the mysterious world of Kamino, Obi-Wan consults the Jedi Temple’s Archives Library only to discover that Kamino doesn’t exist in the records. Wow, data on an entire planet washed out of the archives because one rogue Jedi decided so!

Obi-Wan interrupts Yoda as he teaches a class of younglings to ask his advice on the search for the missing planet Kamino. “Lost a planet, you have,” says Yoda. One of the student suggests that someone must have erased it from the archive memory. Well, my question is who did it?

“Meditate on this I will,” says Yoda, but how could he when the dark force had clouded his vision to see. The funny thing is, we didn’t really find out till the end of the episode. Yet again, the Empire managed to perfectly arrange a clone army because the archives maintenance, handled by the Jedi temple, was nowhere close to as effective as it should have been.

Solution in this world? An inventory management software that enables businesses to save unlimited documents and images to the app. In our case, unlimited data on systems and planets could have been stored in web-based software (perhaps integrated with DropBox, Google Drive, or the like) if Star Wars existed in our galaxy. Also, visibility could have been restricted to the Jedi Knights, and they would have to ask for approval to access documents. If a Jedi turned rogue and decided to delete an archive memory, you could keep a history trail on it too. I am sure, this way, we would have found out who erased the system from the archives in the first place.

#4: Droids accessing Starship Command and Control Rooms, stop we must

How come R2-D2 was always able to access the Empire’s classified files? Like the prequel Episode 3 — Revenge of the Sith, it happened in Episode 4, when R2-D2 was able to scan the Death Star’s classified files and locate Princess Leia’s cell.

With R2-D2 accessing the starships and control rooms so easily, I would have loved to somehow enable the entire web-based application on it. Things would have been a lot simpler and the Sith Lord and Resistance could have been fighting the droids like a team. Star Wars also has a BB-8 version of astromech droid, and it’s even smarter than R2-D2. If Darth Vader was alive, I know just what his reaction would be!

If I was to take the other side, and the Sith Lord hadn’t lured the Jedi on purpose, the solution to stop R2-D2 and the other droids from accessing the command rooms and ships would be to download the app on all vehicles and in all divisions. This way, a secure web-based solution would have saved the day again.

Talking about the dark lords, Anakin was seduced by the Sith Lord easily because he wasn’t rewarded for his bravery by the Jedi council. Inventory management software not only supports inventory control, asset tracking, user and customer modules, but are also equipped with reports. If the Jedi council could’ve studied the importance of performance appraisal and monitored its member reports, Anakin would never have turned to the dark side.

#5: Too many features, an inventory control software has

Episode 4 — A New Hope definitely holds a ‘must-learn lesson’ for Star Wars fans. Why take all that risk of feeding some secret plans against your enemy into a droid’s memory banks when you can just email them? With inventory management software, you can do better!

Upload them as an attachment on a user’s detail page or directly to another administrator. Let the authorized users/admins see those plans. It would have saved a lot of lives and loss of inventory and equipment. Be the custodian of what you share, assign, or want to keep track of!

The next lesson is learnt when the Jawas manage to put C-3PO, R2-D2, and other droids on sale for the people in Tatooine. If these droids had barcodes identifying who they belonged to, people could just scan them and have identified the owners. There would have been fewer misplacements or occurrences of stolen assets.

These barcodes can be stored against their asset/inventory details in an inventory management software, which enables the user to track them without any hassle. It’s part of asset tracking. Some of the top inventory control software have built-in label designers, which allow you to print any information you want on the labels along with the barcodes.

In the same episode, to quickly raise funds to pay for transportation aboard the Millennium Falcon, Luke negotiates the sale of his landspeeder with a vendor, but is saddened by how quickly the value of his model has fallen since new models came to the system. This brings up another feature and benefit of having an inventory management software i.e. equipment upgrade reminders and license upgrade alerts.

Set up notifications, maintenance reminders, machinery upgrade alerts, and receive emails to take specific actions on particular assets/inventory. Unlike Luke, you wouldn’t have to fall behind. You can also determine which items to retire if they’re not in use. Maybe if Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon had an upgraded in shield and Death Star couldn’t have pulled it in using the magnetic field.

Like we discussed above, the Galactic Empire could also have avoided unauthorized access to its classified files by R2-D2, if they were using a secure web-based inventory management solution.

#6: Retire them if no use, solution that is

What happens to the starships that get brutally damaged during battles or wars between good and evil? How these people log the destruction? Well, if you have watched Episode 7, then you might have guessed that they don’t log anything, and the ships just kind of rot in the desert. Episode 5 — The Empire Strikes Back shows the same neglect!

Why not log them as damaged or retired in your system for inventory control. If they had done something like this, well, they could have salvaged some pretty good spare parts, workable starships, weaponry. But they didn’t.

Both sides had heroes and yet both sides had a loss of soldiers. Darth Vader was pretty much killing the useless commanders and no one kept a record of dead soldiers. But wait, what happens in our world? Of the users you create in an inventory control software, not all of them work for you forever. So you either deactivate their accounts or add new users.

Yet again, we had R2-D2 access the system when the security codes were changed. Was the system so vulnerable that anyone was able to access it? Yes, it was. And the solution could have been a secure web-based application for inventory control, user access, and visibility.

#7: Things could have been different, if inventory management there was

Hearing those weird languages throughout the Star Wars saga, it is my duty to let you all know that these SaaS companies are striving hard to enable different languages on applications for inventory control and management. Another solution is that you can simply hire people to communicate with vendors and customers to overcome language barrier like Jabba did with C-3P0.

In Episode 6 — Return of the Jedi, some Resistance spies managed to bring in new information on the 2nd Death Star and steal an Empire shuttle. Based on a strategic plan, Han Solo and his team took the shuttle to destroy the Death Star’s shield. They were spotted by the Empire’s command room, and got a clearance to go ahead when asked for a security code (which was old). I thought the Empire guys were supposed to be smarter than this. Guess not! An inventory control management could’ve managed that very well. It allows you to feed in custom information in the asset/inventory detail pages, so whenever a user checked in/out a starship or a shuttle, they would’ve had to put in the clearance code. It also enables you to make such fields mandatory to fill.

The Empire, no matter how well it did throughout the episodes, was still able to face a hard defeat.

#8: Better inventory management, there was in the first order

We thought Darth Vader finished the Emperor and the Empire was defeated at last. At last, freedom was restored in the galaxy, but they brought in a new threat after three decades called the First Order.

I couldn’t found any prominent issues in Episode 7 — The Force Awakens, as this time they locked in the shuttle, so the rogue Stormtrooper wasn’t able to flee off with the captured pilot easily. Han Solo’s millennium falcon was kept with Tatooine.

Top 3 Inventory Control and Management Software for Businesses today

When businesses lack the tools to quickly give them accurate, actionable reports, they can get bogged down. Invest in the right tools to calm your fears and help you to take positive actions. Based on my experience with the following tools, I managed to point out some prominent issues in Star Wars saga, and hopefully was able to guide businesses to understand the importance of having a secure and up to date inventory management system.

1. EZOfficeInventory — Proven Asset tracking solution and Inventory management software. It extends the value of businesses to drive down IT costs, reduce security & compliance risks, increase service management efficiency and gain control over inventory. An easy to use asset tracking software. Click here for a demo video.

2. NetSuite — Real-time inventory visibility, advanced inventory & order fulfillment for distributors, and complete procure-to-pay purchasing. A complete system for your entire company.

3. Sage ERP — Web based solutions that are flexible, customizable, scalable and easy to use. Software with Solutions that ‘do it all’. Click here for a demo video.

Everything around you that you call life was made up by people no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use — Steve Jobs.

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