Finding the right inventory management solution for a business can transform the whole R&D structure into a more flexible and adaptive process, allowing for quick adjustments to rapidly changing market conditions or new business directions. The times of rapid business growth and development introduce a lot of uncertainty within a business, impacting employees and the whole R&D workflows. In times of such fluctuation and unpredictability, software solution providers must take up a role of a stable constant which not only allows R&D businesses to use a software solution for efficient scaling but also facilitate the growth by evolving and adjusting for the needs of a growing business. For R&D companies operating in today’s diverse and rapidly changing environment, inventory management is an area where flexibility and innovation plays a particularly important role. R&D businesses must therefore take extra care when choosing and investing in an inventory management solution.
Why is inventory management important?
Start-ups and expanding R&D businesses normally generate strategies aiming to drive revenues and expand market share through expanding operations to new geographies, finding better alignments with suppliers and cutting costs in R&D and distribution. To facilitate these objectives, companies often find cloud-based technological solutions to work most efficiently, as they allow for high flexibility whilst supercharging productivity through cutting down manual work. A technology solution like an all-in-one inventory management platform can significantly reduce costs, improve efficiencies and help rationalise complex R&D environments.
Many R&D companies struggle to achieve balanced inventory levels in their labs. Mismanaging lab inventory can easily lead to stagnation of lab operations, which for R&D businesses lie in the heart of the day-to-day company-wide operations. Not having the required inventory can therefore hinder entire businesses, leading to stock-outs and unhappy clients. On the other hand, stocking up on inventory items and consumables in the lab can mean increased storage costs, increased inventory turnover rates and loss of materials.
Inventory management implies ordering of lab consumables and items, their efficient storage, as well as their control and monitoring. Generally, it is about keeping the right number of items in the right place for the right time at any given point throughout an R&D process. Getting these parameters right is not only important for maintaining order and productivity in the lab, but also crucial for maintaining adequate inventory costs. Considering these factors, robust inventory recordkeeping is imperative for a progressive R&D business.
Recognising the need for an inventory management solution
Whether it is a pre-seed start-up or a mature business, a point when companies start outgrowing the technology they were initially equipped with is inevitable. This can occur due to a multitude of reasons – it could be that the technological solution providers are unable to scale up their services or that the technological product that they offer becomes incompetent considering the current needs of an R&D business. Regardless of the situation, in most cases, an R&D businesses simply want to have more functionality from the solution such as APIs, intuitive interface, bespoke security and progressive functionality that do not require clients extensive time to master. This problem equally persists in the context of inventory management. Companies cannot afford to spend time and resources on manual inventory management or inefficient designs of old-fashioned inventory management solutions that don’t have the capacity to adjust to their needs.
Some direct signs of an R&D businesses struggling to manage their inventory include reoccurring lab overstocking or understocking, having inaccurate stock counts and using storage facilities inefficiently. Businesses dealing with these problems are better off turning to cloud-based unified inventory management solutions to help automate their labs and reduce inefficiency. Other signs indicating that companies must search for new technologies include:
- Inefficient and time-consuming inventory check and monitoring process
- Continuous mismanagement of inventory levels at multiple lab levels
- Increasing amount of human error introduced through manual data entry
- Inability to forecast inventory demand on multiple R&D levels
How to evaluate your inventory management requirements
Companies trying to answer the question of which inventory management solution would work the best for them must first evaluate their current business needs. R&D businesses should not only assess their current short-term needs but also attempt to forecast the inventory requirements for the future, considering company growth and increase in R&D output. It is also important to critically evaluate the current company-level and lab-level improvements which could be brought about with the introduction of an innovative inventory management solution, reviewing any technology gaps and employee needs.
In order to facilitate this reviewing process for R&D companies, we have come up with a set of questions which will help businesses to identify inventory gaps and evaluate the need for a new solution. Consider the following questions in your next brainstorming session with your teams:
Which inventory management solutions do we currently use? How do these solutions limit our operations?
Is our current solution meeting our expectations? Are we on course to overgrowing our current solution to the point that it will no longer be able to adjust to our needs?
Where is the business headed and how would our needs change in 3-5 years?
What do we need right now in order to improve our inventory management? What will we require in the future?
To dig into this issue further, businesses could hire an external consultant to bring in their independent opinion. Businesses can also directly ask solution providers to evaluate the business’s current needs and forecast exact expectations of how their solution could help a specific R&D business. To discuss how Labstep can help your business grow and become more efficient with your inventory, contact email@example.com.
Labstep is a provider of scientific data management software for R&D organisations across industries (Biotech, Pharma, Biology, Chemicals, Agriculture etc) who need to manage, capture, share and use data effectively.
The Labstep platform is an end to end flexible research environment that connects your notebook, inventory, applications and data in one collaborative workspace.
To learn more about Labstep’s lab inventory management module, get in touch. Contact us or book a demo today.