New year, fresh start. As we head into 2022, is it time to enable better visibility into your medical device inventory? It’s a noble goal, because inventory visibility can benefit the whole team, from your field reps to your sales leadership and finance staff. But creating visibility can be difficult without the right tools. Here’s why it matters and what you need to know to get started.
What is inventory visibility?
Simply put, inventory visibility is knowing what you have and where it is at any time. It’s critically important, because accurate visibility can mean the difference between case coverage and an angry account. And it’s anything but simple—as you already know, inventory can be parked far from where it’s needed. Being able to see field inventory across distributor, rep, and product line, and account for warehouse inventory, incoming returns, pending and approved requests, and more can change how your business works—for the better.
Why visibility into medical field inventory management matters
The years 2020 and 2021 took “supply chain” from industry-speak to household vocabulary because suddenly we were focused on what it took to get goods where we needed them (and what happened when we couldn’t). Even nearly two years into the COVID era, supply chain management continues to be a number-one priority across markets. This is especially true in the medical device industry. And, despite adjusting to a pandemic-era normal, we’re not out of the woods yet. According to research by McKinsey & Co., systemic supply chain shocks lasting two months or more will happen, on average, once every 3.7 years. Once a decade, this kind of supply chain shock could threaten up to 40% of a company’s earnings.
This threat helps to put into context the importance of increased inventory visibility and tools to enable medical device inventory tracking.
How medical field inventory solutions benefit your team
Improved visibility can help your team at every level, from day-to-day field operations and inventory wrangling to strategic levels. In fact, it can be said that better visibility equals improved financial performance. Here’s why.
Accurate visibility hinges on real-time information for what’s happening in the field. Think about a typical day for a distributor’s field rep. They’re submitting transactions all day long, from case and sales order data to replenishment requests. That data is fed into the system, giving your customer service and field services personnel the information to make decisions about inventory allocation that will ultimately affect business performance.
Daily inventory wrangling also grinds your team down. As your sales operations staff handle incoming transactions from the field, they’re scrambling to plan inventory three to four days out (at best). This is inefficient at best; at worst, it contributes to the kind of burnout that damages performance, productivity, and the bottom line. With better inventory visibility, your sales reps won’t be waiting on updates on shipments, inventory requests, or returns—and your sales operations people can focus on work more strategic than wrangling.
The critical last piece of your supply chain is that link between your sales rep’s transaction data and what your market needs and wants. Enabling powerful visibility gives you the ability to read the market and translate it effectively through your entire business.
Finally, consider that you’ll always operate under resource constraints; no firm has an unlimited amount of inventory, and you must strike a careful balance between optimal inventory footprint and the required financial investment. Your firm and team, though, don’t have to be constrained by visibility. With the right tools, integration, and training, you can eliminate visibility constraints—and cut down on the friction and time waste of inventory wrangling.
Ready to improve visibility into your medical field inventory? Here are key considerations to get started—and to inform your evaluation of potential solutions.
- Adoption matters. If true visibility depends on the reps at the tip of your supply chain, you need a software with high adoption rates—and the expertise to roll it out to encourage adoption. All solutions are not created equal, so be sure to compare adoption rates. ImplantBase’s adoption rate among field reps is 97%.
- Mobile functionality matters. Reps have always been a distributed workforce, but now, in a remote-work world, work can be anywhere. Mobile functionality is essential to enable better visibility, as it allows reps to enter transactions in real time in the field and provide that information to your back-office staff, no matter where they’re working. ImplantBase’s native iOS and Android apps enable mobile functionality and communication from anywhere in the field.
- Industry specialization matters. Medical device inventory management is complex. You have complex devices and instrument sets, a complex supply chain, and a highly complex regulatory environment. Add in competitive pressure, material shortages, growth through acquisition, homegrown systems, and patient urgency, and—you get the idea. It’s critical to choose a tool purpose-built for the industry that can handle a range of complex situations and integrations, all while being easy to use.
- Process expertise matters. Any solution to enable inventory visibility must work the way you work. Look for software backed by experts who can translate functionality into communication and processes that your entire team will understand.
If improving field inventory visibility is your New Year's resolution, ImplantBase can help. Schedule a call or demo with our team.