What Does a Supply Clerk Do?

Supply clerks are responsible for managing a company’s supply areas in such a way that all essential supplies required for the business’s continued operation are available in sufficient quantities. Typically, the supply clerk will collaborate with departmental supervisors and purchasing agents to determine the quantity of different items to keep on hand and to develop reordering criteria based on usage patterns in order to keep the supply inventory under control. A supply clerk will do this overseeing the processes for disbursing items from the supply room inventory, conducting periodic inventory reconciliations to ensure the accuracy of supply room records, and sending requisitions to purchase agents, who will then assign a purchase order number and place orders with vendors for fulfillment.

One of the most important responsibilities of a supply clerk is to keep accurate records of the type and quantity of items in the supply room. In the past, this was frequently accomplished through the use of a manual filing system that allowed for the quick posting of receipts for recently received goods as well as the disbursement of items to various departments. Authorized individuals from those departments would fill out a simple request for parts or other items, noting the department that would receive the goods, as part of the process. The supply clerk would use the request to retrieve the item and quantity from the inventory and deliver them to the appropriate department representative. The request form would then be updated with the disbursal date and time, signed a department representative, and used the supply clerk to deduct that quantity and type of good from the inventory records.

To receive inbound goods and add them to the inventory, a supply clerk would use copies of bills of lading and packing lists. Before being accepted, the goods are usually inspected, signed for, and assigned to a specific storage location within the supply room. The assignment of specific locations made it easier for different departments to retrieve goods as needed, and it also reduced the chances of unit count errors.

Today’s technology allows the supply clerk to update the supply inventory quickly using a computer database. The database can be programmed to identify any item that is approaching the minimum units to keep on hand, allowing the clerk to quickly prepare and submit reordering requisitions. A supply database can also help with a cycle count, which is a common task in many supply systems. A cycle count is essentially a periodic physical count of all items in the inventory that is used to reconcile any discrepancies between supply records and the actual number of units of each item found in the inventory. This task allows for any discrepancies that may arise as a result of counting errors or parts and other equipment that have been declared obsolete, as well as ensuring that essential supplies are always available when needed.