After reading different blog posts and learning from the class, clearly inventory is valuable. How valuable probably depends on a company by company basis. However from my previous job experience, I found that maybe too much value was put on inventory. The past couple of summers I worked at Follett School Solutions, in the warehouse. Follett is basically a textbook distributor. We don’t make any books, we just buy and resell. Part of the job is finding the books in the large warehouse. After the books on the order are found, they are passed on to the next line of people (packers), who clean and pack the books. Finding and collecting books, especially a large order, can take a long time. After cleaning, packing and counting the books, often times the packer will realize that they are short some books. Once they realize this, they bring the books over to a different group of people (inventory auditors), who then look in the warehouse to get more books to fulfill the shorted order. Sometimes they don’t have the books on hand (in the warehouse) to complete the order. This is where I take issue with my company.
I’ll give a common example of a situation like this. Let’s say a school orders a variety of 300 textbooks in September that need to be shipped as soon as possible, since school has already begun. The packer sees that they only have 299 books, and they are short 1. They bring the order over to the inventory auditor, who then recounts to make sure, and then looks in the warehouse to find that 1 extra book. More times than not, the inventory auditor will come back empty in their search to find the missing book. Personally, I would ship out the 299 books on hand and then ship the 1 extra book as soon as I could. However, Follett does not do this. Follett will order 1 book from the textbook maker, and wait for the book to arrive, and just push the 299 books to the side. This could take 2 or 3 days and sometimes longer if the textbook company does not have a book on hand themselves. Meanwhile, the school that ordered these books is in session, and can’t begin teaching the subject since they don’t have the proper materials on hand. Ask any teacher how 2, 3, or 4 lost days can destroy a lesson plan. Yes, the school shouldn’t have waited so long to order the books, but still, Follett only makes matters worse by not shipping out a large order that needs to be sent ‘ASAP’.
In my opinion, it’s not a big deal to just ship out 299 and then wait however long for the 300th book to arrive. I am not sure what these schools do while they wait for their books to arrive. In my opinion, the goal should be to get the books to the customer ASAP. Inventory is important, but jeopardizing and delaying orders because of being 1 short in inventory seems ludicrous to me.
Am I crazy? Or does this not make sense to you either?