07/05/2018

Choose the right people for inventory management


Your team works best when each member’s individual skills have a chance to shine in service to the practice. And while clinical skills may be easy to see, different “soft skills” are also needed for successful practice operations.

Many practices rely on a single point person for inventory control, and the role tends to default to a dental assistant. However, inventory is not a task but rather a system— one that needs the right point person for some processes and the whole team for others. As with most processes, practice leadership must establish, document and assign specific roles and responsibilities. Here are four inventory management roles and guidance for filling them:

  1. Who places orders on a regular schedule? Consider having a single point person to avoid gaps and duplications in ordering. Seek a team member who, regardless of their “main role,” exhibits strong time-management, organization and communication skills. He or she must be able to dedicate time each week to place orders with a keen attention to detail. Have a team member who’s a natural problem-solver? That’s the one.
  2. Who compares prices to find the best value? Ideally, your point person should also be the champion for saving on supplies, taking pride in finding good value. This doesn’t mean finding the cheapest options; instead, it’s finding the supplies you love or quality alternatives at the most competitive price. And, every team member’s input should be welcome when it comes to finding savings or identifying innovative products.
  3. Who tracks supply use and reordering? Assign accountability appropriate to your team size and structure. You may need to have one role or several that divide and conquer. One way to divide and conquer is to assign roles and responsibilities by category, with three different trusted team members assessing dental supplies, dental equipment and office supplies. Another way is by department, with one person assessing the hygiene department supply levels and another assessing restorative levels. Your point person should then receive requests by a specific day each week, allowing time to aggregate, evaluate and ask questions before placing an order.
  4. Who stocks and organizes a central supply area? When the bulk of your inventory is in one stockroom, there are several benefits:
    • You have a better view of what’s on hand, and your team will be less likely to waste or hoard supplies.
    • Your team has a designated place to make notes on supply needs.
    • Inventory can be rotated appropriately — with older products in front to be used first to avoid waste due to expiration.
    • Designate who will stock the central supply as deliveries come in and check expiration and who, if a separate role, will stock treatment areas with just what they need.

Remember that clear role expectations support your success, and be sure to recognize each team member’s contributions along the way.

This article is part 1 of a two-part series. Watch for part 2, “Communicate clear processes for inventory management” later this month.

To learn more about managing your practice’s dental supplies or how TDSC can help, visit tdsc.com/news.



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Searching for better prices can seem like a daunting process, even with the convenience of 24/7 shopping sites in place of brick-and-mortar stores or paper catalogs. How can you efficiently evaluate your ordering and find ways to save? Ask an expert to do it for you. CDA’s newest subsidiary, TDSC, an online source for dental supplies, has a team that will research and compare prices for members through a no-cost, no-obligation service.

Your purchasing decisions make a significant impact on both your bottom line and how your office team allocates its time. In fact, the details revealed in just a single order can help you understand true costs, control overhead and streamline operations. The TDSC Marketplace is a new source for dental supply savings for CDA members. Here, an actual order from a current Marketplace shopper is broken down to highlight strengths and opportunities for further efficiencies.

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