Managing the Lab

3 Major R&D Lab Supply Ordering Pain Points

Conducting an experiment is a bit like being a small business owner. Scientists can be responsible for coordinating everything, including  product identification and comparison, order entry and tracking, backorder management, schedule setting, and budget maintenance. Oh, and they’re also responsible for, you know, doing the actual research.

The R&D ordering process is not a smooth one, especially for organizations without procurement automation. A scientist at a major biopharma company shares, “R&D scientists spend too much time researching products to buy, placing orders, chasing deliveries and post-delivery administration of orders for products and services, including invoicing and reconciliations.” Her experience is all too common.

3 major R&D lab supply ordering pain points

  1. Lost time and experiment delays. Scientists can spend 20% of their weeks searching for lab supplies, in addition to tracking down in-stock alternatives for backordered products. Delivery tracking requires going to multiple websites and channels and contacting suppliers. Experiments become further delayed if product alternatives for backordered items cannot be found and also due to procurement’s time-intensive, manual process to add long-tail suppliers.
  2. Barriers to automation. Many punchouts / hosted catalogs don’t cover enough of R&D supply spend, forcing the purchaser to obtain non-catalog quotes. Carts and check-out are usually supplier-specific, with separate approvals for every order and every supplier, as well as manual order tracking processes.
  3. Lost money. Comparing products for the best price is difficult when purchasing site by site, resulting in a significant price spread for products across multiple suppliers. Negotiating prices is also difficult across thousands of longtail suppliers. Third-party services often charge markups for tail supplies.

These pain points can be at least partially addressed through procurement digitalization via a procure-to-pay (P2P) system, and even more fully alleviated by complementing P2P with a self-service digital marketplace, such as ZAGENO. Just like any successful business owner who must adapt to successfully wear many hats, lab scientists must take advantage of tools that free them to focus on their core mission; spending less time obtaining lab supplies and more time putting those supplies to work in successful experiments.

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