Inventory control systems maintain information about activities within firms that ensure the delivery of products to customers. The subsystems that perform these functions include sales, manufacturing, warehousing, ordering, and receiving. In different firms the activities associated with each of these areas may not be strictly contained within separate subsystems, but these functions must be performed in sequence in order to have a well-run inventory control system.
In today's business environment, even small and mid-sized businesses have come to rely on computerized inventory management systems. Certainly, there are plenty of small retail outlets, manufacturers, and other businesses that continue to rely on manual means of inventory tracking. Indeed, for some small businesses, like convenience stores, shoe stores, or nurseries, purchase of an electronic inventory tracking system might constitute a wasteful use of financial resources. But for other firms operating in industries that feature
high volume turnover of raw materials and/or finished products, computerized tracking systems have emerged as a key component of business strategies aimed at increasing productivity and maintaining competitiveness. Moreover, the recent development of powerful computer programs capable of addressing a wide variety of record keeping needs—including inventory management—in one integrated system have also contributed to the growing popularity of electronic inventory control options
Given such developments, it is little wonder that business experts commonly cite inventory management as a vital element that can spell the difference between success and failure in today's keenly competitive business world. Writing in Production and Inventory Management Journal, Godwin Udo described telecommunications technology as a critical organizational asset that can help a company realize important competitive gains in the area of inventory management.