Inventory Management Lessons From March Madness

I know what you’re thinking– how could inventory management possibly be related to a NCAA basketball tournament? Here’s the thing: they’re more alike than you may know. From preparation to execution to the end result, there are many lessons from March Madness that you can apply to the way you manage your inventory.

Are You Ready For It?

How do athletes prepare for March Madness? They train, practice, study their competition, come up with game plans, and more. The more ready they are for what’s ahead, the better. You can apply this idea to the way you manage your inventory.

When it comes to safety stock, you don’t want to have too much or too little. Too much means you’re paying extra carrying costs, and too little means you’re missing out on potential profits. As a result, the best way to prepare is to ensure that your forecasting is accurate. Using an inventory management system, you can predict future stock levels and demand.

Without the right system, you may be left manually entering data. But, as we explored earlier, data integrity has a huge impact on your supply chain. When it comes to manual entry, this is human error-prone process. As a result, you may be using bad data to forecast. Don’t forget: when it comes to data, garbage in means garbage out.

It’s no secret that it’s always better to be prepared. Whether you’re playing 67 other teams in basketball or managing your inventory, preparation is key.

There’s No I In Team

You know what they say: there’s no I in team. In basketball, there’s five players allowed on the court for each side at a time. Their mindsets are aligned and they’re all on the same page. As a result, they work together to achieve their goal: winning. Also, each player has a designated role to play. For example, the point guard acts as the coach on the floor, the center plays near the baseline usually scoring in the key, etc.

Similarly, you have teammates in your supply chain. Depending on your firm, you may have less than five, you may have much more. Just like in basketball, each member has a role. Your team is your suppliers, customers, vendors, and everybody else who is part of your supply chain. No matter how many parties you’re collaborating with, communication is vital. Do the other members of your supply chain team know what your goals are? Do you share the same goals?

When there’s open communication between all parties, you can be sure that everybody is working together and on the same page. In basketball, players are always communicating with one another. Maybe it’s the point guard calling out plays, or the forward signaling they’re open to receive the ball. By openly communicating, the team can work together to get the job done.

One way to open up communication in your supply chain is with visibility. With a cloud-based inventory solution, you can give your partners a real-time view of your inventory levels. This can also help you build trust with your supply chain partners. When you collaborate with others, you can work together to achieve your goals.

Know Your Risks– And Your Rewards 

This year, for the first time in March Madness history, the No. 16 seed team beat the No. 1 seed team. Only 2.18% of brackets were predicting this, knocking out almost 98% of brackets right at the start. This underdog win came out of nowhere, and clearly most people were not expecting it.

Are you ready for unexpected disruptions in your supply chain? Increasing climate change risks could cause great damage to your supply chain. The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season was the most active in history, bringing major disruptions to the logistics, energy, and agriculture sectors. It shut down ports, millions lost power, and there were billions of dollars in crop damage.

The key to surviving unforeseen supply chain risks is building a resilient supply chain. You can do this by gaining visibility, identifying the weak spots, and collaborating. With these three strategies, you’ll be able to make real-time decisions, improve vulnerabilities, and make network-wide changes.

The Winner – Is It You?

Here’s one stark difference: unlike filling out a March Madness bracket, the odds of you winning at inventory management aren’t 1 in 9.2 quintillion. In fact, they’re much higher than that. Using these strategies, you can gain control and visibility of your inventory. You can avoid stock outs and overstocking, make real-time decisions, and build a responsive, resilient supply chain.

With these March Madness lessons in mind, you can be an inventory management winner.


Are you interested in learning more about how inventory management can help you?