Inventory Management Web Exclusive: Inventory Management 101? Look Again
Unfortunately very few people come to your door with a degree in inventory management. So what expertise is required when selecting or training an inventory manager/director?
If you’re fortunate to find someone who has direct inventory management experience, that’s obviously a start. The key is finding or grooming someone who has the following attributes:
• good common sense
• both good analytical and business economic sense
• strong social or interaction skills
• someone who can “hold their own” under pressure and hopefully have a good sense of humor and self.
You may be asking, why a good sense of humor and self? That’s because an inventory manager is always in a “lose-lose” situation. If you have too little inventory, fill rates suffer. Too much inventory results in overstock and has a negative impact on the bottom line.
So a good inventory manager has to be willing to stand up for the best interests of the company and say “it’s my fault, now let’s stop pointing fingers and work together to resolve the problems.” Strong inventory managers understand that they walk a finely controlled line to maximize company profits.
If you’re grooming people internally, they’ll certainly have the advantage of knowing your company. But keep in mind that it may take at least three seasons for them to effectively manage the process, be able to confidently stand their ground and not give in to departmental or individual management pressures.
The first season often is purely a learning season. In the second season, your new inventory manager will begin to understand the products’ relationships to categories, presentations and seasonality. They may also start to make forecasting decisions. In the third season, they’re learning from their experience (both good and bad) to be able to plan, forecast and control inventory properly.