Inventory Liabilities Prove Daunting For High-Tech Companies

Compiled By Deborah Austin For high-tech manufacturers, 2001's inventory charges and write-downs were the first tidal wave. Now another looms: off-balance-sheet inventory liabilities (OBSILs), suggests a new report from management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, MacLean, Va. For manufacturers that have amassed purchase commitments far outstripping demand, OBSILs pose invisible risks to shareholders and even management -- until suppliers push for make-goods on promises -- says the report, "High Tech's Inventory Overhang." The report outlines a process for manufacturers to assess potential liabilities and dispose of them effectively. Key steps include:

  • Assessing current risks
  • Immediately communicating inability to meet supply-chain commitments
  • Vendor negotiation
  • Leveraging tradables to reduce cash outlay
  • Ongoing OBSIL-monitoring processes
The best way to avoid OBSILs? Prevention -- with supply-chain and product-management processes focused on running lean rather than scaling up. To download a PDF version of the report for free, visit
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