Whether you are an emerging organization of three to five offices or a larger dental enterprise, truly accurate inventory management always seems just out of reach or, even worse, is ignored altogether.

What do we mean by inventory management? Inventory management for dental practices means that at any moment you know what products are on the shelf in a given office.

As growing dental organizations purchase more and more supplies, having an efficient way to account for how many supplies are available at an office can help drive smarter ordering and cut down on wasteful expenses. But at most dental practices, the problem with inventory management isn’t just the accuracy of inventory counts or the time it takes to manage bulky spreadsheets – it’s the process itself. The harsh reality is clinical staff must take valuable time out of their day to count, record, and enter supply data – at every office in the organization – which adds up to a tremendous labor and opportunity cost for large and growing dental organizations.

The Solution to Dental Inventory Management

In order to solve dental inventory management for your dental practice, first start at the beginning and identify the root problem you want to solve. Ask yourself, “What am I trying to solve? Is it always knowing what’s on my shelf, or is it to ensure I am not buying more than what I need?”

We know inventory management is the answer to these questions, but the process itself may not be practical for dental organizations using manual record keeping and inventory checks. (Nevermind the scalability issues if you have multiple locations.) Just think, is adding another task to your overworked staff’s checklist the best idea when you want them focused on providing the best patient care and service possible? 

Instead, why not empower your staff and solve the actual problem (overspending on extra inventory) by prioritizing purchasing compliance, using data and budgets, automating decision-making and approvals, and leveraging receive and reconciliation functions to keep accurate inventory records. 

Prioritize Purchasing Compliance on Dental Supplies

Compliance can be captured in one word: predictable behavior. But, before you can truly drive company-wide compliance, you have to answer a few questions:

  • How do we order supplies?
  • What do we buy?
  • Where do we buy it?
  • And what does that current process look like?

To get started, create one environment where all office purchasing and vendors/suppliers can live. By creating a single controlled environment where all supply purchasing takes place, dental practices can not only manage spending but also increase formulary acceptance by simply encouraging the right behavior in the right place. More importantly, that behavior is producing data, and now that data is captured in one system. With all of your data in one place, you can begin to build a single source of truth for what is actually coming into the organization, the true savings of each supplier, and the KPIs that make each office run more efficiently.

Use Data to Drive Smarter Purchasing Behavior

Now that all of your purchasing data is in one place, it’s time to turn that data into valuable information to drive better decision making. For example, as your purchasing compliance increases, your data becomes more accurate, enabling you to review historical trends and plan the supplies you need based on last month’s revenue and this month’s scheduled appointments. Think of it this way: If your offices can forecast the number of patients for the next three months, why would you buy supplies to serve double or triple of what is forecasted? It’s unnecessary to buy supplies for 1,000 patients when you know your office will only have 250. By eliminating autopilot purchasing behavior and uncovering relevant inventory data, controlling cash flow and operational costs can become less daunting and more manageable.

Automate Decisions & Workflows

Automating time-intensive chores is one the easiest and most efficient ways you can improve your office’s operational reality and overall mood. Whether an office orders inventory every two weeks or every two days, office managers should have the freedom to purchase what they need when they need it without interruption. Implement a system that gives the appropriate employees remote control and visibility into the organization’s purchasing behavior and product catalog while fostering a hands-off approach to individual office inventory needs.

Set this plan in motion by finding a solution that:

  • Allows your organization to set minimum and maximum budgets
  • Showcases certain products from select suppliers
  • Creates rules and workflows for who orders what
  • Automates purchasing approvals
  • Alerts the right person when the rules or processes are broken
Drive Accurate Receive & Reconciliation Data

It’s hard to keep track of received orders with just a few offices, but as your dental practice scales, it becomes impossible to do it for an entire enterprise with hundreds of locations. More frequently than not, a dental assistant is on the phone or writing an email to a distributor explaining that an order was not completely fulfilled, only to have the burden being placed back on them. In the era of knowing where every online purchase is at any time, there is no reason why dental offices should not have the same experience. Don’t let headquarters pay an invoice for supplies that have failed to arrive. Try a technology that gives you full traceability of every order placed by every office in your organization. For example, CureMint’s receive and reconciliation features allow you to see what has arrived, where and at what prices, so you can accurately keep track of your supplies at the agreed-upon price.

Procure-to-Pay for Inventory Management

Today, dental offices are running primarily on fixed costs, making ways to save money few and far between with cash flow left hanging in the balance. And right now, with saving money at the center of everyone’s minds, initiatives like improved inventory management supporting that goal are paramount. 

As you review inventory management solutions for your organization, consider a dental procure-to-pay solution to upgrade your procurement process, reduce the time it takes to order supplies, and save thousands of dollars on dental supplies. Procure-to-pay software for dental practices provides instant data into order volume and history that can help you stay on top of inventory management while also empowering staff to make better supply purchases. 

By looking at how your offices purchase supplies and investing in ways to support positive, sustainable change across the organization, you can not only solve inventory concerns but also cut costs at the same time.