Managing the Lab | Supply Chain

The Importance of Visibility in the Biotech Procurement Process

Visibility into every stage of the biotech lab supply procurement process is key — especially during a time of supply chain uncertainty and ambitious research milestones for life sciences R&D.

When biotech lab teams don’t have visibility, the “order pending” or “order processing” notification without context can mean delayed research, frustrated bench scientists, wasted lab space, and a hit to the lab budget. Alternately, modern eprocurement systems like life science marketplaces provide full visibility with up-to-date shipping information, alternate product recommendations, and one-click reorder to keep biotech labs stocked and on track with research timelines.

Here’s a look into the biotech procurement process and ways to improve visibility for lab managers and finance teams.

Why the Lab Supply Purchasing Process Needs Visibility

When full transparency isn’t an aspect of your internal spending policies, labs are vulnerable to mismanaged financing. Instead, when visibility is integrated into the procurement process at every step, finance teams can avoid overspending.

Taking a proactive approach to supply procurement visibility allows you to:

  • Enhance information sharing between coworkers and within the supplier-vendor relationship.
  • Achieve faster and more informed communication practices.
  • Reduce time spent managing status updates, due to widely accessible shared data.
  • Empower employees by giving them a clear understanding of budget availability and allocations.
  • Improve workflow efficiency with cross-department document sharing.
  • Automate procurement and purchasing workflows, reducing manual work.

To increase spend transparency even further at your lab, here are 7 Tips for CFO Spend Visibility.

How to Create Visibility During Biotech Supply Procurement

Spend visibility is the first step toward effective expense management. Without it, it can be increasingly difficult for finance teams and lab managers to visualize the complete financial picture of their lab. Here is how to create visibility during the biotech lab supply procurement process.

Step 1. Use transparent communication.

Visibility begins with transparent communication, and when it comes to digital procurement, the most effective way to adopt transparent processes is through modern eprocurement technology.

For example, if a platform is outdated the end scientist might just see "order processing" but not know if that specifically means if the shipment is "in transit" or "waiting in a warehouse". Failure to differentiate through complete visibility makes it hard to plan experiments and run an efficient lab.

Transparent communication can be achieved:

  • Utilization of a central procurement platform that is accessible by every department.
  • Engaging team members in regular training sessions and spend compliance reviews.
  • Establishing a baseline spend by identifying purchase trends.
  • Creating collaborative workflows using cloud-based platforms.

Step 2. Create one-click approval systems.

Many labs are operating on a system of outdated or unnecessary approval systems that have the power to slow operations down, create bottlenecks in research progress, and provide opportunities for miscommunication. Essentially, the more manual processes involved in the procurement process, the more opportunity for human error arises as well.

By transitioning to a one-click approval system, finance teams and lab managers can reduce the possibility for approval errors while speeding up the procurement process. Additional ways to speed up approval systems include:

  • Creating a catalog of pre-approved vendors and items that employees can order with no approvals.
  • Implementing spend limits that prevent employees from purchasing over budget.

Step 3. Integrate automated processes.

Recent years have seen a monumental rise in lab automation—and with a projected growth of 7% through the next decade of innovation, shows no signs of stopping. Automating procurement processes is a two part system: adopting the use of an eprocurement system and auditing your procurement process.

By switching from manual processes to a centralized order tracking platform, teams can reduce the possibility for human error during the entirety of the procurement workflow. And by auditing your procurement process from start to finish you may uncover additional opportunities for automation.


Step 4. Establish trust.

With increased visibility comes an increased need for fostering trust based relationships. Finance teams need to trust that individual employees will abide by new procurement process policies, lab managers need to trust that finance teams are efficiently managing their supply budget, and vendors need to establish trust between themselves and lab managers to ensure that they continue using them in the future.

As the eprocurement world continues to expand, the need for establishing professional trust based relationships has only been magnified. Digital marketplaces make it easy for buyers to work with a full roster of vendors. For those small and emerging suppliers looking to stand out from the competition, taking the time to establish trust with your customers will pay dividends in the future.

The biotech lab supply procurement process is always evolving alongside the industry at large. To ensure that your procurement process is visible to all parties, integrate the use of eprocurement tech tools and establish a culture based in open communication. To get started streamlining your ordering process, schedule a demo with ZAGENO.

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