Let’s consider the case of a large hospital that noticed its inventory figures were not truly reflective of how many necessary items were available. When preparing for an operation, it’s important to overstock with required items for surgery, and in this instance, staff would constantly find that the number of syringes the computer said were in the cupboards, were there but in very different quantities. This led to manually ordering extra stock instead of relying on auto-replenishing. The problem fully unravelled when it was also discovered the average costing figures were completely wrong. This left the various departments in the hospital with stock budget blowouts.
With an item like syringes which are packed in boxes of 100 units, part of the problem comes about when there’s a discrepancy between whether one item vs one box of said items is counted into or out of stock. If when preparing for surgery a number of items are taken out of stock for use and then some are returned as items without noting the difference between boxes vs individual items, then chaos sets into the inventory system. In this instance, it was taking one staff member a whole day at a time to do returns, and stock was starting to pile up – further affecting the inventory reality.
The hospital in our case study was having exactly these issues. Once they identified the problem it seemed a relatively simple matter to resolve it, but the options before them to bring about real change were complex. They agreed they did not wish to hire consultants or write new code – both of which would be expensive, time-consuming, and require a lot of testing.
THE RANGE OF TECHNOLOGY OPTIONS EACH HAD ITS OWN CHALLENGES:
- Keyboard Emulation Software – Slow, lack of validation and required babysitting
- Scripted Loading Software – Not end user friendly, takes consultants to setup and control. Requires additional language skills (such as PHP) for better functionality
- WebADI / SQL*Loader – Custom development / consultants
- Toad / SQL Developer – Very flexible but high expert knowledge required
- More4Apps Tools – Prebuilt end user excel based solution for downloading / uploading data
Their ideal outcomes were to have updated items with correct units of measure, correct average costs per items, use min / max options, and reduce open purchase ordering. But they also found that for changes to be made effectively, many items had to be disabled, and then removed or added to Blanket Orders and Bill Of Materials.
Using Manual, Macro, Queries – the loading time was predicted to be as high as 76 days, including 6 and a half days for set up: