Lab Efficiency | Automation

Stop the wild goose chase: How to spend less time tracking lab supply orders

Does tracking down your lab supply orders sometimes feel like a wild goose chase? How many phone calls and emails does it take to learn that your order hasn’t been approved yet or that it hasn’t left the warehouse or that it was delivered to the wrong loading dock? The truth is that even one phone call placed, or email sent to locate an order is one too many for scientists, lab managers, and procurement.

Throughout 2021 and 2022, ZAGENO, the leading lab supply marketplace, surveyed hundreds of research scientists, lab operations, and procurement professionals across various biotech and pharmaceutical R&D labs, both with and without procure-to-pay (P2P) platforms, about their lab supply purchasing processes. Not surprisingly, the number of hours wasted tracking lab supply orders arose as a major pain point for all involved.

An average of 6 hours per week is wasted tracking lab supply orders

For those without a centralized, consolidated ordering hub, order tracking remains a very manual process, usually happening via email and phone calls to the tune of an average of 6 hours per week.

Chart depicting hours spent tracking orders per week, per role

Hours spent tracking orders per week, per role


While most of the burden falls on procurement (who spend a whopping average of 22 hours per week tracking orders), research scientists also must divert critical time away from the bench for these tasks.

On average, procurement professionals spend a whopping 22 hours per week tracking lab supply orders.

As organizations scale, the time spent sourcing R&D products increases dramatically. This is particularly apparent when searching for products and tracking order/delivery statuses. In fact, scientists spend more time tracking lab supplies as their companies grow.

  • Emerging biotechs: Scientists spend 1.5 hours per week on order tracking
  • Mature biotechs: Scientists spend 2 hours per week on order tracking
  • Large pharmaceuticals: Scientists spend 9 hours per week on order tracking

While P2P systems play a strategic role in helping biotechs scale, they do not reduce the amount of time spent tracking orders, which jumps from 2.4 hours per week for biotechs to 10 hours for pharma. Further, scientists spend double the time tracking orders post-P2P implementation.

Graphic depicting two clocks, one indicating 3 hours and the other indicating 6 hours

Scientist hours spent per week on order tracking, with and without P2P


Accessing a self-service lab supply marketplace such as ZAGENO during or after P2P implementation directly connects scientists with purchasing, receiving, and suppliers and significantly automates order tracking, removing many unnecessary touchpoints.

Too many manual touchpoints make order tracking too time-consuming

The average R&D lab places hundreds of orders per week, each one requiring separate follow-up. Without automated ordering, a scientist described the following scenario:

“You have to check each item to see if it was dispatched since you don’t get a notification in the event of a delay. You think, ‘Oh, that should have arrived by now. Let me check what happened’ and discover it is not even dispatched yet because there is suddenly a delay for 4 weeks. Then you need to cancel that one because you can’t wait that long, start looking for alternatives and go back to the beginning of the cycle. With how often that happens, ordering is quite often a nightmare.”

Unnecessary lab supply order tracking steps include:

  • Repeated calls and emails. Locating an order’s whereabouts can require repeated phone calls and emails to the supplier, receiving dock, and others.
  • Lack of proactive notification. Purchasers often do not receive notification from the supplier about backorders and shipping delays.
  • Non-centralized inventory management/order history. Scientists often cannot view their own order history and must manually track their orders and delivery thereof.
  • Fragmented receiving processes. Scientists must manually check to determine if and where their item has been received.

How to spend less time tracking lab supply orders

While the life sciences industry has specific ordering needs, ZAGENO believes that the business-to-business (B2B) experience can and should offer the same convenience to its customers as that of business-to-consumer (B2C) experiences, such as Amazon.

What does the ideal lab supply order tracking process include?

  • Self-service, single log-on order, delivery, and receipt tracking
  • Streamlined approval flows
  • White glove customer service
  • Customizable order confirmation, order status, shipment status, backorder status, delivery tracking, and receipt notifications
  • Automated backorder notifications
  • Quick turnaround from order submission to purchase order
  • Consolidated order history and reporting

All of these features and more are available with the ZAGENO lab supply marketplace. Within days, give your scientists, lab managers, and procurement professionals the gift of time better spent by contacting ZAGENO today to learn more about our self-service, automated lab supply ordering process.

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