Inventory control managers keep businesses running. They provide information
on how much stock is on hand, what raw materials are needed to make more and
how many orders can be filled.
Retail stores, warehouses and manufacturing plants employ these managers
to get things where they need to be when they need to be there. If there aren't
enough products in a store, sales are lost. If a factory runs low on raw materials,
it can't make the finished product.
But it's just as important not to have too much of something on hand. Storage
space is expensive to buy or lease. Businesses pay tax on everything they
have in stock. And inventory must be paid for even if it's not sold. So having
too much of something around can be a real drawback in the competitive world
Just in time refers to the practice of keeping inventory as low
as possible, and having materials or products delivered only as they're needed.
APICS (the Association for Operations Management, formerly known as the American
Production and Inventory Control Society) offers specific advanced courses
in "just in time."
Most inventory control managers work regular hours, though those in retail
stores can find themselves harried during holidays and other busy seasons.
And almost every manager must go through inventory review at least once a
year, which involves physically counting every item in stock.
Inventory control managers manage other people, as well as the timely,
well-planned flow of goods.
Computer programs can track customer purchases and match them with store
or factory stock. The once painstaking process of matching everything up is
now largely automated.
But inventory control managers aren't worried about losing their jobs to
a computer network. Regardless of how efficient computers have become, the
human element remains vital to inventory management. "The computer has made
our jobs easier, but there has to be someone in there that can reason," explains
inventory control manager Lynn Davis. "The computer can't read between the