For effective and efficient inventory management, the accurate data collection and sorting are an crucial requirement. In the meanwhile, an effective and efficient channel of communication and cooperation between/among the departments and individuals of inventory management is also crucial to the quality of inventory management as well as to the total quality management of the whole business at large (Evans, J. R. and Dean, J. W., 2000). So, inventory management not only one of the most important tasks in supply chain management for modern businesses but also the requirement of competitive marketing environment since without an efficient inventory management, errors would not be avoided so as to make customers satisfied. To be sure, successful data management is the proposition of guaranteeing customer satisfaction and the promotion of service efficiency. On the contrary, inaccurate data collection and data management may lead to a series of inventory management problems (Towill & DelVecchio, 1994; Berry, Naim, & Towill, 1995). This is exactly the case for Best Inc. Here in this case, we can see that there is not an effective data collection mechanism that can be used to guarantee the efficient use of the data and there is a considerable disparity concerning the actual inventory and the data revealed by the computer records. This essay, based on the analysis of the inventory management problems of Best Inc., tries to investigate into the factors influencing the quality of inventory management of modern businesses. Here, the author intends to point to the factor that inventory management is one integrated part of the total quality management of a business that is important for gaining customers as well as the targeted marketplace of a business in the more and more competitive business environment today.
2. Literature review
2.1 Inventory and supply chain management
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The basis for inventory to become an important aspect of modern business management lies in that it is one of the major contents of the whole supply chain management in modern businesses. So, the study of inventory can not be separated from the study of supply chain management in general (Sullivan, J., 1999). It is a hot topic in the recent years in the study of the total quality management of a modern business organization. Nowadays many managers have realized that inventory management can not be separated from the overall process of the total quality management of a business in order to gain a overall competitive advantage of a businesses. So, it is safe to say that the successful management of inventory is a decisive process of modern organizational management.
3.2 Key components of supply chain management
Supply chain management is a key concept of modern business management. It covers multiple disciplines concerning the management of business resources of various kinds. Within the last few years, supply chain management as a whole has been widely emphasized by business organizations because it is a managerial strategy that guarantees the free flowing of the business resources. The total quality management of the supply chain of a business is a complicated and integrated job that involves an overall perspective of business management. Since this is a complicated job, the use of technical aids and new management principles and methodologies are necessarily needed. This means that the TQM job is a complicated procedure that involves different processes and detailed tasks, which usually involves the management of products (such as product promotion, advertisements of various kinds and after-sale service etc.) and the management of personnel (such as work division management and customer relationship management etc.). Usually, it contains the following several aspects:
Customer need management;
Work division management;
Transportation, inventory and logistics;
Global issues (Silver, Pyke, & Peterson, 2000)
Here we can see that inventory is an integrated task of all the supply chain management. To be sure, it is one of the factors influencing the overall management of the supply chain which is important for the completion of the management of a modern business under the integrated structure.
3.3 Important issues of inventory management
To carry out the inventory management successfully, there are some crucial issues. First, inventory management should be considered as an inseparable process and content of the whole quality management of a business. And since supply chain is a complicated job that depends on close cooperation of all the departments of a business, inventory can be seen as one of the crucial parts of the whole chain. So, the detailed job required to be accomplished in inventory management is not separated from all the endeavors of a business in order to improve the general quality of the business management (Sanne van der Wal and Roos van Os, 2000). In the second place, inventory management should be based on scientific method, which is the result of a precise and believable record of data. That is to say, without such data, the quality of inventory management would be negatively impacted. Thirdly, a business should establish a reliable communicative channel between different departments and individuals in order to exchange the information concerning inventory data and the application of the data. So, it is not only the perfection of individual jobs that plays an important part in the whole inventory management but also the communication and cooperation between/among all the staff members of the inventory department as a whole.
3.4 The importance of accurate data collection and communicative channel
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The reason why data collection is important to retailers lies in at least two aspects. In the first place, an accurate collection of data promotes the efficiency of sales. As it is known to all, goods put in random order are difficult to find and this slows down the speed of sales. Imagine a shop without effective and accurate collection of data concerning the amount of goods and the places of storage, it would produce a chaos in finding the goods to sell to customers. So, in modern inventory management, accurate collection of data is important to promote the service efficiency. Secondly, accurate collection of data is as well important to meet customer needs and to enhance customer satisfaction (Ishikawa, K, 2002). Generally, the factors influencing customer satisfaction come from different sources. It is not only the quality of goods that can make customers satisfied. In many cases, the service quality is as well an crucial factor. Anyway, no one likes to tolerate wait long in front of the counter. In some other cases, customers would also become impatient to a the supplier of goods when they can not find the goods that are stated in the data collection notice but can not be found on the shelf. So, accurate data collection is considered to be one crucial element of customer management as well. In the modern marketing environment, the satisfaction of customers is the basis for sustained development of any businesses. As a result, without efficient management of data, there would be a great harm to customer satisfaction.
4. The problems of Bestââ‚¬â„¢s data collection and its consequence
In inventory management, human error is difficult to avoid. This is often reflected in the problem in collecting business data, and this is exactly the problem of data collection of Best Inc. These problems can be summarized as follows:
I. Disparity between inventory and computer records
First, there is a disparity of the inventory and the computer records. This can be seen as the carelessness of the related staff members as well as the loose management of the inventory data. The immediate consequence of this disparity may be that the customers may be misled when buying certain products in Best. Furthermore, it is also misleading the managers of the company to carry our product replacement plans.
II. Lack of promptness in checking inventory
This is the responsibility of the managers of the company. Lacking the promptness in checking inventory records and actual inventory is sure to bring about negative consequence to the overall knowledge of customer needs and the management of inventory. And this would result in serious problems in inventory management.
III. Negligence of customer psychology
As is known to all, customer psychology is easy to be influenced by the quality of service provided by businesses. In the case of Best, the inaccurate data collection may harm the customer satisfaction. And this in turn will be a negative factor influencing the overall management quality of the company.
IV. Lack of effective and efficient communicative channel
The case of Best is very typical in reflecting the lack of an effective and efficient channel of communication channel between/among the departments and individuals responsible for the inventory management. To be sure, the above-mentioned several problems can all be seen as the sub-problems of this. Say, if there is an efficient channel of communication, there would be a regulation within the department to regularly check the accuracy of these data. Also, such a communicative channel is the guarantee for the exchanging of ideas concerning how the data could be kept and applied by the overall supply china management of the company. And in this way, inventory managers and frontline staff members can as well check the records in the computer and the actual inventory in proper place. If all these jobs were done successfully, the customers would be satisfied in the service quality of the whole company. And by achieving all these, the total quality management of the company would be effectively promoted.
V. Lacking the sense of total quality management
Inventory can be regarded as one integrated chain of the whole total quality management of a business. It is one part of the et of management principles that are based on the observation of the overall organizational business behavior. Or, it is a product of the management methodological innovations accelerated by the revolution of marketing information exchange style and the new features of modern business organizations. For many companies today, the term TQM is closely related to the corporate programs that aim at organizing employee teams and statistical process control of business resources (Besterfield, D. H., et al., 1999). So, in this sense, the management of inventory can not be separated from the integrated process of total quality management that requires the maturity of management techniques based on the utilization of all the business sources of a business organization. As a result, the problem of Best, though revealed by the problem of inventory data collection, is in its essence the lack of the sense of total quality management that is based on the overall thinking of the management processes of the whole company.
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To summarize, the management of a modern business is a complicated process that is based on the close cooperation and communication of different departments. Though the management inventory is only one part of the overall business chain management, it is actually one integrated content of the whole management process. Without the overall consideration of the whole management process, the division of work within a business organization would not be successful. So, to be sure, the management of inventory, and inventory data collection and management in particular, is a very important part of the total quality management of a company. The failure of inventory management of Best is definitely the separation of inventory management from the total quality management of the whole organization.