#atozchallenge: Inventory

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I spent a good part of my career in IT and training working with inventory control applications, primarily with hospitals and public utilities. Later in my career, I worked with customers in the aerospace and government procurement.

Any business needs to keep a stock of items that are crucial to their business, whether it’s banking forms, lubrication grease, transformers, batteries, legal pads and pens, even items like airplane engines and railroad gates. They need to make sure that the parts are there when they need them, while keeping their inventory costs to a minimum. Knowing how much of an item you need over the course of a week or month will give you an idea of how many you need to keep on hand and how often you need to order. If you know you use ten widgets a day (on average) and it takes 15 days (on average) to get widgets from your supplier, you know you need to order when the on-hand quantity is 150 or less. If you know that it might take as long as 20 days to get the widgets, you probably need to order sooner than that, probably when your on-hand quantity drops below 200 on hand. The additional 5 days’ worth of inventory is considered your safety stock. If there are variations in your daily usage, you might want to keep even more safety stock on hand for those situations. It all starts with a good forecast.

I could probably talk your ear off about inventory management, so I’ll stop here…

17 thoughts on “#atozchallenge: Inventory

  1. We’ve always been fairly good about keeping our home supply inventory stocked. It’s such a pain to be out of something. I still run into problems every now and then but I continually look for ways to keep this from happening. Sorry for being such a horrible A2Zer this year. Thanks for your show of support when you could, my friend. We’re almost done. Thank the good Lord!


    1. This has been a busier year than usual.Seems the fewer people that participate, the harder you have to work. We had just under 250 people do the challenge this year, and they were really good about visiting and commenting. I have my work cut out for me in May…


  2. I remember taking inventory when I worked at Woolworths. I also remember being in the middle of counting an item and customers asking me a question. This often made me have to go back and start counting all over.


  3. I have several consulting engagements where a company wanted to add custom inventory management features to their off-the-shelf accounting system. Features to take care of seasonal items and special situations.

    The funniest one I ran into was an electrical wholesaler who had us do an analysis of his inventory compared to his sales and purchase records. Expensive and time consuming, but it revealed a lot. One think that popped out was that he had about 20 of these weird base light bulbs. He hardly ever sold any.

    He said, “my biggest customer has a lot of those fixtures in his house. If he come here for a bulb, or a bunch of bulbs, I want to make sure I have them. Because if I don’t, he’s going to stop at my competitor.”


  4. I never had to do inventory while I was working at Michaels, thank goodness. They had a special crew for that. I do have plenty of inventory in my studio but other than making sure I have enough adhesive, I don’t have to count product.


  5. Thankfully, I never had to do inventory but my ex did when he worked at Radio Shack. He always said it was a nightmare


    1. Physical inventories are a real pain to do. In college, I worked at a department store that did physical inventory monthly in some departments (including mine) and of course the big count at the end of January. We got really good at it after a while….


  6. Hi John – now???? Lots of challenges the world is experiencing … thanks for the info though – cheers Hilary


  7. At one point I was a sales rep selling greeting cards to stores. I, too, could talk your ear off about inventory management– and the store owners who could not, could not, could not understand the process.

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