An inventory management specialist usually works for manufacturing companies and centers of distribution. This kind of professional is responsible for keeping track of all physical assets. For example, in a manufacturing company, someone with this job might make sure that buyers order the proper amounts of raw materials. He or she might oversee deliveries and outgoing shipments, and make sure that what is received or sent out matches numbers entered on bills of materials. This kind of specialist also might be responsible for developing asset tracking systems.
Purchasing is often a primary duty of the position. He or she must be familiar with the different suppliers in an industry and understand how to get the best equipment and materials for the most reasonable prices. An important part of purchasing is contract negotiations. A specialist might work with representatives from suppliers to develop contracts that are agreeable to both parties. He or she also makes sure that suppliers follow the terms of agreements.
It is also common for an inventory management specialist to ensure that all equipment is in good working order. He or she plans inspections and creates a reporting system that employees can use when they find that equipment is damaged. Many inventory specialists believe that it is most cost effective to repair equipment the moment problems are reported. This is a good way to avoid replacements, which are commonly more expensive.
An inventory management specialist also must be aware of projected demand for his or her industry. Knowledge of projections help a specialist to know how much material to order. Lean management, a system by which companies waste as little as possible, is a common practice among manufacturing companies. In order to cut back on waste, and therefore to increase profit margins, an inventory specialist aims to order the exact amount needed.
Inventory management specialists often rely on their asset tracking systems. For instance, they might place bar codes on each piece of equipment. Inventory employees can scan bar codes to retrieve equipment information from a database. An inventory specialist might determine which kind of information is included in each account and develop protocol for updating asset information.
Training and employee management also are important duties for an inventory management specialist. A specialist might work with each inventory worker to see that he or she knows how to store equipment and materials and how to record information in a database. If all employees follow inventory protocol, it is easier for specialists to keep track of assets.