Crazy Little Thing Called LabLeave a Comment
If you’re spinning out a new lab, you probably don’t have time to read this.
You’re busy trying to figure out how much longer you can stay in your current space, agreeing a tenancy for your new lab, realising there is a world of HR to discover, recruiting for a team, setting up HSE controls, applying for a VAT number, buying furniture, chasing down funding…
You’re Under Pressure.
The last thing on your mind might be purchasing! However, by setting up the right purchasing controls, you’ll save time and money further down the line while maintaining control over spend.
My experience suggests you start with these key steps.
1. Set Up Supplier Accounts
Map out which suppliers you’ll need. Get all your company information together in one document on company headed paper. Set up credit accounts from day one and avoid paying upfront for deliveries and avoiding order delays. Your finance team and scientists will thank you!
2. Negotiate Discounts
Make your money last longer by negotiating discounts on your top products. It can be time consuming and uncomfortable, but well worth the effort. Reach out to different suppliers. You’d be surprised by how much you could save annually by having discounts set up. Avoid paying duty on key products like ethanol, and apply for a duty-free license.
3. Tender for CapEx
You’re not going to go with the first supplier price you get, right? Gather all your CapEx needs into one sheet. Make sure you are clear about the specifications you need versus what you want. Tender this out to multiple suppliers. Push for better pricing and absolutely make sure their lead times are accurate!
Remember there are lots of different options. Sure, you want it all, but you don’t always need the fancy equipment with all the bells and whistles, so be realistic. You can also shop for ex-demo or second-hand equipment which can be much cheaper. It might even be possible to lease the equipment.
4. Finance System Set Up
You need to keep track of what you’re buying. Companies may track spend by project, nominal code, departments, etc. Create a simple cost centre structure to help manage your budget.
A finance package is an essential early decision. Most start ups keep it simple with Xero or Sage. These solutions save lots of time and ensure invoices are correctly processed when the goods are ordered, delivered and billed at the agreed price.
5. Managing Orders
Have you agreed who can approve orders? Do you have a Purchase Order (PO) form in place? Do you have unique PO numbers set up for orders?
Make sure you have a simple but controlled process where staff know what they need to do, who can authorise spend, and how they should create a PO.
6. Tracking Deliveries
For day-to-day consumables, I can guarantee this isn’t a priority. You’ll discover any delivery issues only once the item hasn’t arrived and it’s critical. Who is making sure orders are being checked, tracked or even accounted for when delivered? Make sure your process for receiving deliveries is clear for your business, the building and suppliers.
7. Keep your Scientists at the Bench
You’ve been through blood, sweat and tears. Years working, founding the company, getting funding and building the right team. You’ve not been through all this to end up placing and tracking purchase orders. Keep the team passionate about being at the bench and working on actual life saving discoveries.
With that in mind…
8. Get a Purchasing System in Place
Spreadsheets are nice, but will only take you so far. In order to effectively manage, control, track and negotiate spend, you’ll need to break free and have a purchasing system.
It makes your life easier. (It has more benefits but really, what is better than this?)
- Where can I find a purchasing system where I can manage my spend and orders?
- Where a team of people will negotiate pricing for me and prove that they can save me money?
- Where approving and creating a PO can be done in seconds with no paperwork to complete?
- Where they will track and manage every delivery so we don’t run out of key stock and we can spend more time in the lab?
- Where a team can help with CapEx tenders and make sure we get the best price.
- Where it can link into my finance system and help my finance team save lots of time processing invoices?
Amici. It’s a kind of magic.
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