Inventory management is a component of supply chain management that involves supervising non-capitalized assets, or inventory, and stock items. Specifically, “inventory management gwankhosupervises the flow of goods from manufacturers to warehouses and from these facilities to point of sale.” Thus, inventory management hinges on detailed records of products or parts as they enter and leave warehouses and points of sale.
Inventory Management Works
A company's inventory is one of its most valuable assets. In retail, manufacturing, food service, and other inventory-intensive sectors, a company's inputs and finished products are the core of its business. A shortage of inventory when and where it's needed can be extremely detrimental.
At the same time, inventory can be thought of as a liability (if not in an accounting sense). A large inventory carries the risk of spoilage, theft, damage, or shifts in demand. Inventory must be insured, and if it is not sold in time it may have to be disposed of at clearance prices—or simply destroyed.
Inventory represents a current asset since a company typically intends to sell its finished goods within a short amount of time, typically a year. Inventory has to be physically counted or measured before it can be put on a balance sheet. Companies typically maintain sophisticated inventory management systems capable of tracking real-time inventory levels. Inventory is accounted for using one of three methods: first-in-first-out (FIFO) costing; last-in-first-out (LIFO) costing; or weighted-average costing.
Inventory Management Methods
Depending on the type of business or product being analyzed, a company will use various inventory management methods. Some of these management methods include just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing, materials requirement planning (MRP), economic order quantity (EOQ), and days sales of inventory (DSI).