The overseeing and controlling of the ordering, storage and use of components that a company will use in the production of the items it will sell as well as the overseeing and controlling of quantities of finished products for sale. A business's inventory is one of its major assets and represents an investment that is tied up until the item is sold or used in the production of an item that is sold. It also costs money to store, track and insure inventory. Inventories that are mismanaged can create significant financial problems for a business, whether the mismanagement results in an inventory glut or an inventory shortage.
Successful inventory management involves creating a purchasing plan that will ensure that items are available when they are needed (but that neither too much nor too little is purchased) and keeping track of existing inventory and its use. Two common inventory-management strategies are the just-in-time method, where companies plan to receive items as they are needed rather than maintaining high inventory levels, and materials requirement planning, which schedules material deliveries based on sales forecasts.