Your policies and procedures must be enforced in order for you to achieve effective inventory management. Often companies will promote the warehouse employee who knows most about your inventory to the position of warehouse manager. Unfortunately, unless this person is a leader, the results may be disastrous. While he or she probably will work hard, they may not have the ability to lead others. As a result, they may adopt the attitude of “if you want it done right….do it yourself.” Often, these folks burn themselves out while other warehouse employees stand around and watch them do it.

A good warehouse manager must be a leader. He or she must also:

• Be able to set and achieve goals (e.g., “all orders received by 3pm will be shipped the next day” or “all stock receipts will be processed within 24 hours of arrival”)
• Insist that all policies and procedures are followed
• Not be afraid to provide constructive criticism when necessary
• Be neat in appearance and insist on a neat workplace

Assign employees who have the best knowledge of your products the job of receiving material and putting away stock. Many companies start new warehouse employees in the receiving department. These people may be eager, and have good intentions, but they don’t know your inventory. They may mix items that are similar in appearance, but are actually quite different. Or, they might be afraid of asking too many questions and “stash” products they can’t identify. After all, out of sight, out of mind. How often have you heard someone say…

“Yeah, I saw those D345J’s come in. They were right over there. But I don’t know what happened to them. We’ve searched everywhere but can’t find them…..”

Always remember that lost material is extremely expensive. Experienced people know your products. They know the difference between similar looking items. And, they know how to put away stock so that customer orders and outgoing transfers can be filled quickly, with a minimum of effort.

Have new employees fill orders. It’s a great way for them to learn your products, your customers, and your paper flow. And, just as important, it’s easy to check their work as the orders they pull are packed for shipment.

Having the right person in the right job helps to ensure that you protect what is probably your largest asset, inventory. This practice will lead to efficient and effective business operations.