Businesses that produce or sell a variety of products require a part-numbering system to keep accurate track of their product lines. These numbers, or combination of numbers and letters, should uniquely identify a product line, so you can track location or use. Part numbers may refer to model numbers, serial numbers, product codes, etc. Several systems are advocated with heated debate over which is best.

Step 1.

Create a highly descriptive number, which serves as shorthand to relay information about the product. Some sources caution against such usage, because the numbers are long and are frequently prone to user inputted errors, but other sources praise the amount of information contained therein.

As an example, if you had a huge product line of "widgets,” you might choose a number like "A1110BL04NY03," which would tell you, without looking at a source-book: A - Type A 11 - Produced in the eleventh month, November 10 - Produced in the year 2010 BL - Color blue 04 - Four elements NY - New York manufacturing plant 03 - Revision three

Step 2.

Use a sequential numbering scheme. If you only had 3 products, you might choose a number like 0003, telling you this is the third product in your line. Notice that, even though a single digit would suffice, using at least 4 digits helps avoid confusing the part number with quantities and other such numbers. However, as the number of products increases, these generic numbering systems would make it impossible to describe a product without looking up the part number.

Step 3.

Combine both systems. For your widget company, you might choose to use elements of both, such as A003. This number signifies a type grouping of "A," with a subset number of "003." This allows at least rudimentary description, shorter numbers and separation from other numbers, such as quantities, dates, etc.