Inventory constitutes an important item in the working capital of many business concerns. Net working capital is the difference between current assets and current liabilities. Inventory is a major item of current assets. The term inventory refers to the stocks of the product of a firm is offering for sale and the components that make up the product Inventory is stores of goods and stocks. This includes raw materials, work-in-process and finished goods. Raw materials consist of those units or input which are used to manufactured goods that require further processing to become finished goods. Finished goods are products ready for sale. The classification of inventories and the levels of the components vary from organisaion to organisation depending upon the nature of business. For example steel is a finished product for a steel industry, but raw material for an automobile manufacturer. Thus, inventory may be defined as “Stock of goods that is held for future use”. Since inventories constitute about 50 to 60 percent of current assets, the management of inventories is crucial to successful working capital management. Working capital requirements are influenced by inventory holding. Hence, the need for effective and efficient management of inventories.
A good inventory management is important to the successful operations of most organisaions, unfortunately the importance of inventory is not always appreciated by top management. This may be due to a failure to recognise the link between inventories and achievement of organisational goals or due to ignorance of the impact that inventories can have on costs and profits.
Inventory management refers to an optimum investment in inventories. It should neither be too low to effect the production adversely nor too high to block the funds unnecessarily. Excess investment in inventories is unprofitable for the business. Both excess and inadequate investment in inventories are not desirable. The firm should operate within the two danger points. The purpose of inventory management is to determine and maintain the optimum level of inventory investment.