Office supplies like pens, pencils, toner, paper and more, get expensive over time. For a new business, it’s important to control your spending on these sundry items, otherwise it’s profits down the drain when you don’t. Whether it’s minor or major, the costs quickly add up and break the budget.
Here are some tips on managing your office supply inventory to avoid it becoming a problem.
Create a Request System
While there is likely going to be a dedicated stock room (or at least a cabinet) for office supplies, not everyone should have access to it. Open access leads to wastefulness when staff think they’re not accountable for what they take and use. Instead, put these under lock and key to avoid staff members wandering in and taking what they want.
Create a request system where a form must be submitted to the office manager to request what’s needed. This avoids supplies disappearing, makes staff think twice before getting supplies because their name is on the request, and it creates a permanent register of the requests too.
Should there later be a problem with costly office supplies, individual staff members can be spoken to in order to better understand why they’re burning through them so fast.
Keep Everything Organized
When ordering too many supplies, everything can start to get jumbled. Then it’s more difficult to do a stock take at a later time. It’s also harder to find what you’re looking for when completing an order to delivery to a member of staff too.
Group similar items together to make them easier to find. Therefore, items like different types of paper should be located nearby. This makes it faster to fulfill an order for a notepad and some loose paper because it’s all near to each other.
Plan When to Reorder Supplies
When you track what remains of the office supplies and set a convenient reorder level for each item, then you can trigger when to place a new order.
To determine the correct reorder levels, bear in mind how often certain items are used to see how fast they’ll run out. A limited existing supply might be fine for several months at a stretch, whereas other items gets used up much sooner. Consider if securing the item is harder if it’s unusual, with delays for sourcing times, and factor in delivery time too. Don’t wait until the stock is too low to place an order to keep the item in stock, because staff will complain when they cannot immediately get the supplies they need.
Managing inventory can be done using software or through a spreadsheet. Using inventory software is more helpful for taking stock inventory, managing supplies and setting triggers for individual stock items. This can create alerts through the desktop software and often with SMS messages as well to alert the office manager that an item needs ordering.
A spreadsheet such as Google Sheets could also be used to list stock items, their current level and what number is the trigger point. Set up a column in the spreadsheet that highlights when one of the stock items is below the recommended level. It’s not as efficient or convenient, but for smaller companies that neither use many supplies nor want the expense of the software, it’s a workable solution.
Managing inventory isn’t too difficult, but it does take time to get it right. When following sensible procedures and tracking it well, running out of certain stock items is completely avoidable. While you won’t get much praise for doing so, it certainly avoids receiving any complaints.