What does it even mean to manage inventory? What does that all encompass? Before we get into that, I just want to start off by saying thank you! Thank you for reading… but also, thank you on behalf of your hospitals for doing research and trying to learn all you can about inventory. I know it can be a really tough job, and often thankless (how often do we get thanked for having everything the team needs on hand?). So, thank you for learning everything you can, and doing your best every day!!
Let’s get down to the meat and potatoes… so what do we hope to accomplish with managing inventory? There are several crucial goals to keep in mind. It is important to establish your own goals and vision for your hospital’s inventory system. Understanding your goals and vision for not only you, but for your hospital as well, will help give you clarity and a roadmap for allocating time, energy, and resources to provide the best possible outcome.
The most important goal for inventory management is to have the tools, supplies, and medications on hand to provide the best patient care possible, all while striving to maintain (or improve) profitability.
Before I talk about more inventory specific goals, I want to talk about goals and a vision for YOU. How can you feel supported and appreciated in your role as an inventory manager? What does this mean for you? For one, I think it is very important to have dedicated inventory management time where your role and responsibilities of the hospital are respected and valued. Also, that education and training are valued, offered, and prioritized! Furthermore, it is important to have your responsibilities and job description clearly defined. How can you be successful if you are unsure what is expected of you?
My homework for you: sit down, and reflect for a minute. How could you feel supported and appreciated? What do you need in order to feel successful? How does that look for you? Some of my favorite questions to ask when thinking about my vision or what I want:
- What strengths have other people commented on about you and your accomplishments? What strengths do you see in yourself? Why do you & your position exist in the hospital? What purchase do you serve?
- How does your job serve your practice’s mission? What makes you distinctive in your current work — and can you leverage that uniqueness to achieve a future you desire?
- What is the impact you would like to have on your practice and how would you like to be perceived?
Now that we have talked about becoming successful within your role, let’s talk about inventory management specific goals. Some of the important ones that can be prioritized are:
- Products, supplies, or equipment is available when it is needed to use or to sell
- Inventory analytics and measurements are reviewed and analyzed on a regular, consistent basis (an ABC analysis can be helpful for this)
- An accurate inventory budget is used and reviewed by not only you but the entire management staff
- The entire veterinary team understands the importance of proper inventory management, and consistently supports the efforts towards proper control (reading how indirect costs affect your hospital may be helpful for your staff)
- Overstock, expired stock, and stock-outs (running out of product) is minimized and controlled
- There are standard operating procedures and guidelines in place for adding new products or bulk/promotion purchasing
- Shrinkage controls (protection measures) are discussed, documented, and “enforced”
- Inventory reports and data are routinely monitored
- Inventory benchmarks are consistently and routinely reviewed (it is easier to do a minor course correction than a major overhaul!)
- There is an effort to understanding, determining, and utilizing proper inventory turnover
- Regulations, OSHA standards, and DEA compliance is researched and maintained at all times (the Controlled Substance Guide & Log Book will help with this)
Now it’s time to think about what goals are important to you and your hospital. Think about the steps you can take to work towards those. In upcoming posts, I’ll be talking about tasks and things to do to make these goals happen. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to me! I don’t bite, and I’d love to chat! You can also check out the super supportive, super helpful Veterinary Inventory Management Group.