Lab inventory management is where you have to do a lot of mundane repetitive work, which a human mind despises, to ensure that the lab can run efficiently and the employees have everything they need where and when they need it. Overall, inventory management is a cumbersome and a taxing process, which has no right to be so clunky and clumsy in the era of automation. Thus, the desire to build lab inventory software is a natural and a well-justified decision, which will go a long way in ensuring cost-efficiency, decreasing workload, and decreasing the probability of errors.
This article will provide all the essentials you need to know before starting the development of lab inventory management. It will describe the functionality of management software, the cost of building one, the benefits of tailored inventory management solutions, and will dive into some nuances of software development as a whole.
The Functionality of Laboratory Inventory Management System Software
Lab inventory management automates and optimizes inventory and equipment management, stores and manages related data, helps to deal with documentation, and even billing if required.
A robust and reliable inventory management software in place helps to reduce costs, increase the productivity of the organization, decrease the probability of human error and helps to ensure that the lab is always fully equipped.
Thus, a well-rounded inventory management software should have the following functionality:
Monitoring of supplies. A lab employee armed with a barcode scanner and a convenient mobile app should be able to monitor the availability of all the supplies, consumables, reagents, samples, and equipment. Also, he or she should be able to process the inventory transactions, manage receiving the supplies, track expiration dates, and manage repairs of equipment.
Paperwork and documentation. An employee should be able to deal with all related paperwork using the app, fill out testing documents, update all the information about samples and equipment, etc.
Planning and scheduling inventory demand. A well-tuned inventory management system can help to forecast and notify about inventory demand when the supplies are running low, so you don’t have to worry about a sudden lack of resources. A powerful data analysis functionality can actually help determine future demand accurately, thus, ensuring that the lab is always operating at its maximum capacity.
Project management capacities. The software should provide the possibility to monitor the status of the on-going inventory-related processes in real-time, schedule tasks, and update them if required.
Overall, if you decide to create lab inventory tracking software for your lab, such a digital solution will be tailored to your lab. It will have all the functionality the lab needs without the excessive features that add only costs. The modular nature of such software makes it flexible and allows us to easily add new features and improve the performance in case of unpredictable loads. As follows, the list above is just a picture of an average lab inventory software made with wide strokes. Custom software will be unique to each particular organization.
Costs of Lab Inventory Management Software Development
Long story short — the cost of developing complex software is highly dependent on the needs of the organization it addresses, the features that should be included, technologies used, that stage of the idea preparedness, rates of the software development provider, etc. Any, even rough, estimate of the development costs should be performed by a professional based on the requirements provided by a customer. Otherwise, the amount of money or hours blindly guessed without analyzing a particular case won’t reflect the situation and may give you a wrong idea of required investments.
Thus, if you have a well-described idea of the future lab inventory system, we suggest that you contact a software dev professional so they can quickly estimate a rough cost of the development process. If you have time or if your idea is a rough draft our advice is to choose the Discovery Phase, which is the best way of not only determining accurate development costs but also building a solid foundation for further development of the inventory system.
The Discovery Phase will also provide you with
- product concept from Product Manager
- prototypes from Business Analyst
- a visual concept from UI/UX Designer
- architecture concept from System Architect
In addition, our experience demonstrates that the results of the Discovery Phase can be used to gather further investments if they are required.
Custom vs Out-of-the-Box Inventory Management Software
If you are in a dire need of management software, you have two options. The first one is to buy an out-of-the-box solution from third-party providers. The second one is to develop laboratory inventory management software yourself. Each option has its pros and cons, though the latter grants more independence and flexibility.
Out-of-the-box Management Solution
Advantages of out-of-the-box software
- Easy and quick to start using. Such software is just ready for you to install and use it.
- Short-term cheapness. The monthly fees are insignificant compared to developing a custom solution.
- Developed community and support system. Solutions that have been in the market for a while have a quite active community as well as tech support.
Disadvantages of out-of-the-box software
- Not flexible. Mass-market software is difficult to expand with the functionality unique to your company.
- Long-term pricey. Often, you have to pay for the software for as long as you use it.
- It’s all about compromise. Mass-market software is created to fit the ‘average’ company. As a result, such systems make compromises that may decrease their efficiency for the sake of prevalence.
Custom Management Solution
To build custom inventory management software for laboratories is to commit to an initially costly and lengthy investment, which, however, will result in a long-term profitable, scalable, and reliable solution.
- Perfect fit. The software will be created to be an ideal fit for your company, with features that complement the organization.
- Easy customization. Adding new functional/updating custom software is just a matter of your wish, time, and investments.
- Full control and independence.
- Easy to scale. Scaling with custom software is much easier because it caters specifically to your company’s needs.
- Costly and comparably lengthy to start using.
- Requires a team for support and maintenance
- Real-life testing. No matter how thorough the quality assurance phase of the development process is, it is not possible to test the custom system considering all possible business cases. The adjustments will have to be made on the run.
Overall, if you want more flexibility, long-term efficiency, reliability, and independence, the most relevant option is to create clinical laboratory inventory management software yourself.
If you want to build lab inventory and project management software you either need an in-house team of developers to create one (which is a hustle if you already don’t have one) or choose a nearshore software development partner who will handle all the heavy programming and business analysis lifting for you. With years spent developing, analyzing, and discovering nuances of software creation for HealthCare, FinTech, Education, and other industries, we can become such a partner or simply help you figure out the initial steps required to get the development machine up and running.
In any case, if you are interested or want some valuable advice, contact us, we can help to create lab management software for you.