Learn more about the sample inventory
Functions and benefits
The inventory is prescribed by the German Civil Code (HGB) in order to record current assets. Performed as a full count, this requires considerable time, effort and personnel costs – often even necessitating warehouse closures. Not only that, but the process is also subject to numerous sources of error that can lead to apparent differences and seriously jeopardise the quality of inventory reliability.
Against this backdrop, a range of measures designed to facilitate inventory procedures have been legally approved, of which sample inventories are arguably the most efficient.
The function of the sample inventory
Generally speaking, it is a measuring method that checks and verifies the accuracy of inventory management, i.e. that the system-supported inventory matches up with the number of items actually in the warehouse. Confirmation that this is within statutory tolerances releases the business owner from the obligation to perform a full inventory. The inventory provided by the system is adopted and evaluated for the annual financial statements (assumption method). There is no extrapolated value adjustment, determined quantity differences in the individual sample inventories are simply corrected on the stock item.
The benefits of sample inventories
The immediate advantage of this method is a reduction of approx. 95% in the time and effort required to count. This not only cuts costs, but also considerably reduces both personnel requirements and error rates. The counting of large numbers of items by large numbers of people is inevitably going to lead to errors, particularly as it often involves bringing in staff who have little or no knowledge of the warehouse situation. This is often compounded by time pressures that only permit the checking of imbalances if the deviation is particularly high which, in turn, leads to incorrect figures creeping into the inventory management system…
Sample inventories require less counting, thus reducing the amount of staff required and the time pressure. It also means that more knowledgeable and experienced staff can be primarily deployed for this task and allows time to pursue target/actual differences in more detail, thus helping prevent erroneous entries and increasing process reliability after the inventory.
A further advantage is the ability to also use sample inventory systems for inventory controls during the year. These are not subject to the external inventory regulations, but in-house objectives. By taking additional samples from various inventory sections and goods groups it is possible to monitor the inventory quality on an ongoing basis with a minimum of effort.
Which countries permit the use of sample inventories?
Sample inventories as a substitute for full inventories were first deemed legally acceptable in Germany in 1981, as defined in detail by a statement issued by the Auditing And Accounting Board (HFA) of the Institute of Certified Accountants in Germany (IdW). The statement was issued in both English and German and is still relevant to this day, as well as still being the only English-language set of rules concerning sample inventories.
Austria also permits the use of sample inventories by statute, as does Switzerland.
As well as being directly tested for the aforementioned countries, our systems are also used for the purpose of sample inventories in many countries, both inside and outside Europe, that don’t have any specific regulations concerning such inventory methods. In such cases, use is permitted via individual agreements reached with the respective auditors with regard to the applicable rules, certification and references provided by Stat Control.
Which sectors and industries use the sample inventory method?
The application range is being continuously expanded and Stat Control can boast references from virtually all sectors. We will be happy to put you in touch with a customer from your sector.
This inventory method was initially used in major industrial companies, such as Siemens AG. Siemens was one of the forerunners and as early as the late 1970s was already using an IT-supported warehouse management system, thus fulfilling one of the key conditions for performing sample inventories.
IT-supported warehouse management has long since become a common industry standard. These days, programs are sophisticated and processes increasingly accurate so that, generally speaking, every modern warehouse in the industry and production sector is now in a position to replace its full inventory with statistical methods.
The world of commerce primarily uses sample inventories in storage areas. This method has considerably facilitated the work process in the wholesale and dispatch area in particular, where fast response times are key.
Sample inventories are also successful on the floor, although their suitability depends on the availability of inventory data.
For some years now, logistics service providers have also been switching from full inventories to sample inventories. Customer acceptance has increased considerably, and businesses are able to considerably reduce the time, cost and effort required.
Suppliers generally have a large stock of spare parts that need to be managed and inventoried. In comparison to industrial and commercial enterprises, the turnover rate is generally lower, while the criticality of individual items is often very high. This means that it is essential to prevent inventory errors. The continuous monitoring of the spare parts stores during the year also plays a significant role.
Rules for facilitating inventories using statistical methods
Since the end of the 1970s, according to § 241 Section 1 of the German Civil Code (HGB), inventories can be based on sampling instead of demanding a complete count. The approved mathematical methods and how they are to be applied was defined in statements issued by the Institute of Certified Accountants in Germany (IdW) and the Working Group for Economic Administration in Germany (AWV) at the start of the 1980s. The rules for their implementation and testing are also defined in detail.
These stipulated specific operational conditions which many companies at the time were unable to fulfil, particularly with regard to the requirement for a reliable, IT-supported inventory management system. This situation has improved significantly since the mid-1990s and these days, most modern warehouses are able to meet the required conditions.
Auditors also expect a certified system to perform the sample inventories and it goes without saying that the Stat Control systems are both audited and approved.
Approved mathematical/statistical methods
The methods to be applied within the meaning of the German Civil Code (HGB) were defined in 1981 by the IdW. Generally speaking, the IdW has approved four extrapolation methods and the sequential test as permissible sample inventory procedures suitable for a range of warehouse situations.
In conventional storage areas, the extrapolation methods are generally used. They require a moderate level of inventory reliability and the counting work equates to about 5% of the stock items.
The count results are evaluated in our STASAM system using all four approved extrapolation methods (mean-value, difference, ratio and regression estimation) and the method with the most accurate result is used to document the inventory. Experience has shown that while the regression estimation method is the most sophisticated method mathematically speaking, it is also regularly the most accurate method.
The sequencial test is a special method for particularly reliable storage areas and is covered by our STASEQ system. It requires the least counting work – ideally a mere 30 samples. If the figures deviate from the target quantities of the samples, further samples will be taken which, in the case of uncertain inventories, may actually involve more time and effort than is required for the extrapolation methods.
The various inventory procedures can be combined with one another or carried out as a permanent version spread throughout the year.
Our inventory systems are regularly audited and certified by leading auditing firms for inventories. This is comparable to the Vehicle Type Approval issued for vehicles and confirms that the systems operate in accordance with regulations and properly map the inventory procedure. This certification is generally a standard requirement of auditors for the use of sample inventory systems. The complete primary documentation on which the audit is based is readily available and we are happy to provide you with a copy of the audit certificate to submit to your auditors at any time on request.