“Inventory is bad, inventory is evil,” finance and operations professors intone across business schools worldwide. And every B-school graduate knows companies should balance enough inventory to meet customer needs while accommodating shifting preferences. That said, companies face a paradox; holding too much inventory ties up valuable cash, but too little inventory is risky since some suppliers could lose their financial footing. In a global financial crisis, is inventory still evil?
Forecasting sales and inventory levels is probably one of the most difficult jobs of a product and/or supply chain manager as companies need to marry demand signals with supply. Adding more complexity to the mix is global supply chains that span weeks, multiple countries and sometimes oceans. Lots of hand-offs, tons of data to track, and lots of points for things to go wrong.