Z5ers of every level – from co-founders to new hires – have been on the road this week helping hospitals all over the country conduct their physical inventory counts. We’ve seen our fair share of what, exactly, makes a good inventory, y’know, good.
But maybe that’s not what you want. Maybe you want an inventory that’s slow and painful for everybody.
So we put together this list of tips and tricks to make sure that your inventory-taking process is absolutely, 100% awful.
Before you even begin your count, make sure that you do absolutely nothing before you begin your count. Yes, you read that right. As tempting as it might be to tour your counting areas and get insights from the people who will actually be counting the product on the shelves, that’s a lot of work, and that’s not why you took this job, is it?
Avoid training of any kind. Don’t take advice from industry experts or supply chain veterans (in fact, stop reading this blog now), and definitely don’t tell your people what’s expected of them before the big day comes.
Oh, and on the topic of people: don’t bother making sure that your employees and coworkers can take time out of their schedules to count. In fact, don’t even tell them when they’re counting. It’ll be fun to watch first panic, then horror creep across their faces.
Speaking of those horrified counters, make sure that you give them absolutely no lifelines whatsoever while they’re counting. Do they have a question? Too bad. Do they have a suggestion? Good God. Just the thought of that is stomach-churningly progressive.
It doesn’t matter what other (often life-saving) tasks they need to accomplish. What’s important is that they’re all sent off on their own to count with no instructions, no clarifications, and no support.
After all, doesn’t the Hippocratic Oath translate to “Survival of the Fittest?”
LET THE CLOCK WATCH YOU:
Time management? What time management? Your time is yours to spend, and so is everybody else’s. Want your inventory to take weeks, even a month or two? No problem. If all those other hospitals can get away with disrupting patient care for that long, shouldn’t you?
If you want to rush, that’s fine, too. Hospitals getting their inventory done in a day? Amateurs. You can finish it in an hour. Sure, you’ll have to fudge a few numbers – okay, a lot of numbers – but copy/paste/adjust slightly is how you do your taxes, and you’ve never been busted. How much could things have really changed from last year?
RELY ON COUNT SHEETS:
Sure, some people think there are consequences to using count sheets, but you don’t read all that dry, academic fluff. You know what’s on your shelves, because you put it into a spreadsheet. There’s no way product has moved. Not into the counting area from somewhere else. And certainly not out of the counting area to some other hiding/hoarding place. Nope. No way.
Recalling our last mantra, don’t worry if you or your counters end up spending an hour hunting for a single item from your list, only to end up recording a count of 0 when it’s not found. That’s time – and somebody else’s dime – well spent.
Count sheets are the past, and those who don’t study the past are blessed to repeat it.
IGNORE NEW IDEAS:
Companies, industry experts, and even your bosses are gonna come at you with all sorts of “improvements” to the way you’ve done inventory for years. Helpful things like “technology” that makes the old methods obsolete. They might offer “full service inventory management,” where they provide “project managers” and “labor” and maybe even “advanced data analytics.”
Every time you find out about one of these “solutions” to your inventory count headache, remember: you and that headache have grown quite close over the years.
Why change now?
While this blog is aimed at the CFOs and Materials Managers who want to keep healthcare solidly in the 20th Century, we realize there is a slim chance that you’ve read through the whole thing and realized that Inventory Classic doesn’t taste so fresh anymore. You want to push things forward.
So here’s our advice. Every time you’re tempted to do the minimum required… Every time you want to let everyone else take care of inventory for you… Every time you dread the thought of another physical inventory count…
Maybe get some help. Maybe partner with a company that will make your employees say, “Oh, my God, this is so much easier.” Maybe make sure that partner can take your count to the next level by identifying that excess stock before you have to count and throw it away.
But no. Making things better is a whole lot of work. And that’s not you. Is it?
Headline photo via Depositphotos / Z5.