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 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 well-justified decision, which will go a long way in ensuring cost-efficiency, decreasing workload, and decreasing the probability of errors.
In this article, we provide all the essentials you need to know before starting the development of lab equipment tracking software. 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.
Main Features of Laboratory Inventory Management System Software
Lab inventory systems automate and optimize inventory and equipment management, store and manage related data, help with documentation, and even billing if required.
A robust and reliable inventory management software in place helps to reduce costs, increase the organization’s productivity, decrease the probability of human error and 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 to receive 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 ongoing 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 needs. 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.
3 Benefits of Using Laboratory Inventory Management Software
A lab inventory management system can bring numerous advantages to your laboratory and streamline internal processes.
Data entry automation
Most systems are equipped with barcode or QR-code readers that capture the product information and update the inventory registry. First of all, this feature eliminates repetitive and error-prone manual data entry, which boosts the productivity of your employees. Additionally, such systems remove data duplication and guarantee correct data capture, categorization, and display.
The automated scanning feature places the items in single cloud storage that provides unlimited access to authorized users. As a result, your employees receive the most recent data about samples and inventory state in a particular laboratory or warehouse. Having access to real-time inventory tracking, you will never experience shortages or excesses as well as unexpected losses of your lab items.
Planning and forecasting
Every time you are running low on an item, you will receive a notification alerting you to restock. With inventory management software for the laboratory, you always stay on top of the game and feel safe about the availability of supplies at your warehouse or lab. If you add or track historical data, the system can also provide forecasts based on the previous behavior and give you pointers to which items you might need more of.
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 the 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 the lab management software costs for your case. 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 a Product Manager
- prototypes from a Business Analyst
- a visual concept from a UI/UX Designer
- architecture concept from a 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. If you would like to find out how to develop a medical app or lab inventory management system, get in touch with KindGeek to cooperate.
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.
Custom vs. Out-of-the-Box Lab Inventory Management Software
If you are in 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 lab equipment management software yourself. Each option has its pros and cons, though the latter grants more independence and flexibility.
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. Depending on the scope and specialty of the software, sometimes the investment is worth it. For example, building a custom decision support system in healthcare is a great investment for a large lab. Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of creating your own inventory solution.
Advantages of a Custom Management 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.
Disadvantages of a Custom Management Solution
- 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 hassle if you don’t already 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 hospital management systems, fintech solutions, education apps, 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 KindGeek. We will help create lab management software for you.