Inventory control managers are responsible for all aspects of inventory management, such as receiving, shipping, and keeping accurate records of any material movement within an operation. This position is integral to a supply chain organization, considering that it keeps costs in line and ensures material availability for customer fulfillment. Without an inventory control manager keeping tabs on inventory accuracy, gaps would exist and constrain an operation from fulfilling demand.
What Do Inventory Control Managers Do?
An inventory control manager’s specific roles and responsibilities will vary among each company, but overall, the general duties are the same. The overall objective of an inventory control manager is to maintain accurate inventory levels, in which physical and systematic levels need to correlate. Especially for high-volume manufacturing/logistical operations, inventory control is integral to an organization’s distribution strategy. The primary responsibilities and duties include:
- Track inventory through optimal inventory control procedures
- Evaluate material frequently and locate inventory discrepancies
- Document all movement of material (shipping, receiving, location transfers, etc.)
- Analyze cost-correlation of inventory reduction/gain
- Delegate tasks to employees and train new hires
While some operations use paper or inventory lists, most utilize software to keep track of inventory status, as this is the most efficient manner for staying on top of all material movement. Like other supply chain positions, inventory control managers will have a mixture of being on the floor and in an office.
How to Become an Inventory Control Manager?
The academic degree required to become an inventory control manager will vary, but a Bachelor’s in Supply Chain Management or a related field will suffice among most companies. To shift into this position it will usually be a trade-off between experience, a degree, or the requirement of both.
Like other management positions, qualifying for an inventory control manager position boils down to the company’s size and what attributes they consider necessary. A significant portion of managerial positions will require a degree, regardless of the specific supply chain industry. Inventory control managers are not unique to this requirement, as it requires in-depth knowledge that an academic degree program can provide.
Considering it is a mid-level management position, supervisory experience is typically needed as there is required oversight of employees within this position. Some companies do not require a degree and promote those from within into these roles. But, in these cases, there may be significant experience needed before being considered for a managerial position. With a degree, this can shorten the time frame and expedite the process. Some positions may require a few years of experience and a degree, in which the most advantageous option to better your odds for this position is to obtain a supply chain or related degree.
Professional certifications are usually not required for this position but can help you stand out to hiring managers. Professional certifications are beneficial on resumes and enable an individual to gain further insight and knowledge into the industry. Here are a few of the most beneficial certifications available for those seeking an inventory control manager position:
- Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM)
- Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP)
- Lean Six Sigma Yellow/Green/Black Belt (LSS)
- Project Management Professional (PMP)
- Certified in Logistics, Transportation, and Distribution (CLTD)
Acquiring any of these certifications will allow an individual to have a more in-depth look at how the supply chain industry works. Considering that this position is inventory management-based, obtaining credentials such as the Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) and Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) may be among the most advantageous.
Lean Six Sigma certifications can be beneficial to all areas of supply chain, as the methodology specializes in process improvement concepts. Some colleges and programs offer these certifications for free, eliminating the need to pay for the coursework.
Important Skills for Working as an Inventory Control Manager
Inventory management can be complex and overwhelming, considering the number of possibilities in which something can go wrong. After all, this is why there is a need for an inventory control manager, as their job is to mitigate the risk of inventory discrepancies.
Inventory control managers must be detail-oriented, analytical, and communicate tasks and duties to team members effectively. It will also help to have a strong memory, as this will serve well in keeping track of inventory locations by recalling if something was altered or changed. Here is a list of the most important skills for working as an inventory control manager:
- Strong attention to detail/critical thinking capabilities
- Ability to effectively communicate tasks and duties to team members
- Analyze data through software and report on current inventory status
- Problem-solving/continuous improvement strategies to mitigate inventory risks
- Implementation of strategy to ensure inventory accuracy
Inventory control managers will also need to establish a set of technical skills, usually consisting of Microsoft Suite tools such as Excel and Outlook. There will also be on-the-job training on an organization’s ERP software and what the system entails. These ERP systems will have all the information needed about the manufacturing/logistical operation.
The Career Path of an Inventory Control Manager
An individual may take a few different avenues to become an inventory control manager, but most start in individual contributor roles such as a warehouse associate, supply chain associate, or inventory control associate. You may need supervisory-related experience, so shifting into warehouse or production supervisor positions can be beneficial.
Regardless of a degree, an inventory control management position will usually require a few years of experience in any of the roles mentioned. For those with a degree, two to three years of experience in a supply chain environment may be required before being able to move into an inventory control manager position. Once in an inventory control manager role, there are many opportunities for future senior positions such as senior supply chain manager, supply chain director, and others.
Inventory Control Manager Job Description
An inventory control manager specializes in the oversight of material movement within an operation through effective inventory management and control procedures. The primary objective is to maintain accurate inventory levels, and the inventory control manager will develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) and analyze metrics to control these processes. A general job description will include:
- Monitor KPIs and track performance of inventory accuracy
- Develop and implement solutions pertaining to inventory accuracy improvement
- Coordinate efficient inflow and outflow of material
- Oversee day-to-day inventory processes
- Evaluate and adjust any discrepancies between on-hand and systematic inventory
Inventory control managers will report to senior management about all aspects pertaining to inventory and potential solutions for any areas in need of improvement. They will need to develop/enforce key processes for team members to follow to ensure adequate inventory management and control of flow.
Career Outlook for Inventory Control Managers
Inventory control managers are a sub-category of the “logistician” industry, as they analyze and monitor inventory – part of an organization’s supply chain. The outlook for the supply chain industry has grown significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, as demand for goods shifted upward tremendously.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, logisticians have a job outlook of 30%, far exceeding the average. Inventory control managers will continue to grow over the next decade due to the need to move products much more efficiently to fulfill customer demand. This is especially prevalent during the pandemic and with the rise of e-commerce, as many individuals have converted to online sales and at-home delivery. As consumers are purchasing more and wanting demand to be fulfilled much quicker, the demand for logisticians and inventory control managers has also increased as well.
How Much Do Inventory Control Managers Make?
According to salary.com, inventory control managers make roughly $96,000 per year, with a salary range of $73,000 to 123,000. The amount you will make as an inventory control manager will depend on the employer, prior professional experience, academic qualifications, and region of the country.
If you are an analytical and data-centric individual, then an inventory control manager position may be a fit for you. As supply chain consistently continues to evolve and grow, inventory control management positions are further expanding and are great careers for college graduates to pursue.