Promising Practices: 3 - Warehousing and Inventory Management. Brief #3 in the Promising Practices in Supply Chain Management Series
(2014; 16 pages)

Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program. 2014. Promising Practices: Warehousing and Inventory Management. Arlington, VA: Management Sciences for Health.


This series of briefs has been developed for use by in-country stakeholders. The briefs provide both proven and promising practices that may be used to address specific supply chain barriers faced by each country.

  • Proven practices are defined as interventions with proven outcomes in improving health commodity supply chains in low- and middle-income countries tested using experimental or quasi-experimental evaluation designs. Examples of proven practices are identified by this symbol throughout these briefs.
  • Promising practices are defined as interventions showing progress toward improving health commodity supply chains in low- and middle-income countries.

To view all the briefs in the Promising Practices in Supply Chain Management Series, visit

Defined broadly, pharmaceutical warehousing or warehouse management is “the physical movement of stock into, through, and out of a medical store warehouse.” Warehousing is a key element of pharmaceutical supply chain management. It ensures the constant availability and flow of essential quality health commodities, in appropriate quantities, in a timely and cost-efficient manner, through the supply chain system. Key warehousing functions include receiving and storing stock, inventory management, and distribution management. This brief focuses primarily on warehousing, even though warehousing and distribution are highly interrelated, and the same entity is often responsible for both functions. Please see the Promising Practices in Distribution brief for more information on the distribution function.

While storing stock is a key function of warehousing, the need for large warehouses and large holdings of stock may reflect inefficiency in the supply chain. In an ideal supply chain, large warehouses storing large volumes of products are unnecessary because products enter and exit the warehouse quickly and efficiently on their way to the service delivery point. The task before all supply chain practitioners is to determine how much storage space is truly necessary if operations are as efficient as possible...

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