Key Long Term Metrics in the World of Inventory Management

Many of you have seen the movie Moneyball; and many of you also know how the game has changed in the last 20 years. The metric of batting average, home runs and RBIs has given way to more detailed “sabermetrics” such as on-base percentage and batting average with runners in scoring position.

For better or worse, baseball has changed. The changes in baseball are a reflection of our move from intuitive decision making towards a model of empirical, data-driven decisions. These types of decisions have even crept into the work of inventory managers.

The duty of an inventory manager is two-fold; they have the responsibility to make prudent purchasing decisions and they have a responsibility to meet the needs of their customers, who require equipment for their academic and project based pursuits. Both require a full suite of reliable metrics and data.

To serve the needs of his/her institution, a manager of circulating equipment must make decisions on the value of equipment such as:

  • What technologies are on the rise or in decline?
  • What are the current trends?
  • What are the repair, training, and maintenance costs for a particular piece of equipment?
  • How much should be invested in high-priced cutting edge technology?

For customers, are critical pieces of inventory available when needed? If not, why?

  • Are there too few to meet the demand or are there shortages due to repair needs or one-time events?

Inventory managers need to quanitfy customer satisfaction based on both short-term and long-term data. This includes evaluating the relative success of individual interactions with customers and long-term data about how well the inventory was able to serve the needs of all customers for a certain period of time.

  • Were all reserved items available at the time of pickup?
  • Were the any kinks during any part of the customers interaction with the inventory? (reservation, checkout, return)?
  • Were there long lines when the customer arrived to pick up equipment?

Here are a few things to keep in mind when monitoring short term vs. long term metrics:

Short Term Metrics
Short term metrics are the most relevant to serving customers on a daily basis:

  • What is going out today?
  • What times will be the busiest?
  • What types of equipment will be running low today?
  • Will staffing levels meet demand?
  • Which events will require advanced preparation and setup?

Long-term Metrics
Long-term metrics serve both the patrons and the overall objectives of the institution.

  • Do the hours of operation serve patron’s needs?
  • Are the policies too restrictive?
  • What equipment is at or beyond end-of-life?
  • What should be repaired or replaced?
  • What is the repair/maintenance track record for various makes and models.
  • What can be repaired in-house and at what cost?