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lab life

Upleveled Lab Management: Streamlining Supply Requests

At the heart of any successful laboratory is an organized and efficient system for managing supplies. As a lab manager, it can be overwhelming to navigate the barrage of verbal requests, sticky notes, and emails that come your way on a daily basis. Unfortunately, without a clear strategy and process in place for managing these requests, it’s easy to miss an important order, potentially delaying a critical experiment, or accidentally order duplicate items, wasting budget.

Why deal with requests in the first place?

In smaller laboratories, especially those without a lab manager, it’s common for researchers and staff members to independently order supplies when they run out. While this can usually prevent missed supply orders, it is seldom a cost-effective way to operate. When these orders are made, they often aren’t accounting for inventory already on hand or stock of reagents that could be shared. This can lead to duplicates and overages of reagents. 

Further, it can be hard for a lab manager to get accurate data on expenditures and what chemicals are where. As a result, lab managers end up wasting large amounts of time tracking down invoices and performing inventories before safety inspections. Consolidating the order process with one person helps to reduce unnecessary spend and keep labs more organized and compliant.


Strategies for managing requests

Without consistent and streamlined strategies in place, the management of incoming requests can quickly spiral out of control. Some common methods include keeping a whiteboard or notebook list of items to be ordered. Without a strong process, lab managers often end up needing to cross-reference these lists against verbal requests, sticky notes, and emails. However, managing so many different channels can create a chaotic and time-consuming process.

In order to successfully manage orders and have a handle on spending trends, labs must be strategic about how requests are received and fulfilled. The ideal approach is to make the request process as straightforward as possible for lab members while ensuring your lab can receive, organize, and track orders effectively. 


Keep it simple

A simplified process streamlines the ordering and helps ensure that everyone knows exactly what to do to get their supplies on time. An effective system will help keep up with the many requests coming in and helps keep individuals accountable for their supply needs. This often means designating a single way to make a request, whether that be writing it on the whiteboard, sending an email with a specific subject line, adding items to a shared document, or using a dedicated software platform like Quartzy. 


Keep it consistent

The key to effectiveness when streamlining a supply request management process is consistency. If lab members make requests outside the process and lab managers make exceptions for them, there will always be confusion that can disrupt a research program. Put guidelines in place that are clear and accessible to all members of the lab. Make sure everyone knows what the rules are and is aware that their order won’t be made unless it's submitted through the proper channel.


Technology can help

There are tools that make it easier for lab managers to streamline the ordering and fulfillment process. A lab management platform like Quartzy can help automate many of the administrative tasks that come with supply management, eliminating chaos and freeing up time and resources to focus on research. 

With Quartzy, lab members can make a request and easily track the progress of their supplies all in one place. Further, they can view current inventory levels and locations of supplies and reagents that are already on hand. Lab managers receive all requests in a single place, easily acquire approvals, quickly plan and make orders, and have everything they need to track budgets and spending.


Reach your eureka moment faster

Managing supplies is a necessity for any successful laboratory. Effective lab managers understand how to create a simple and effective process that streamlines requests so that everyone has what they need, when they need it, to keep experiments running on time. The right system helps a laboratory run smoothly while making the most of its budget. 

Lab management software minimizes the chance of errors, saves time and money, and improves efficiency throughout the lab. Click here to learn more about how Quartzy can help streamline your order request process and request a demo.

Topics: advice, purchasing, consumables,

Mara Unkefer
Mara Unkefer

Mara is a scientist-turned-storyteller based in Baltimore, MD.


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