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Inventory Management

Our #1 Pro Tip for Optimized Pharmacy Inventory Management

Datarithm Team May 22 2024

Introducing new changes, processes, technologies, and tasks to your pharmacy employees, like optimized pharmacy inventory management, isn't always easy. After all, change is change and even the most positive change can feel scary, daunting, or just, well, different. Yet for your new pharmacy management system to be effective and get you results like better cash flow, you need your employees’ buy-in.  

Perhaps these changes in your pharmacy day-to-day even feel daunting to you, but because you know what the benefit to your business is, so you push on through. You've carefully thought through these new changes, know they’re doable, and will save you time and money. So how do you get your employees on the same page and ensure you’re successfully able to optimize your pharmacy’s inventory management? 

Our #1 pro tip to making challenges like compliance easier and your inventory management optimization a success is strong management—which starts with effective communication and change management. 


What Is Change Management?

Change management is defined as a “systematic approach to the transformation of goals, processes, and technologies.” It’s essentially a set of proven methods to “create confident, positive, and optimistic stakeholders with the skills and commitment to ensure new initiatives succeed.” 

A lesson we all learned through the pandemic was the importance of resilience for a modern business, no matter the industry or size of your business. To navigate evolving customer expectations, technology growth, and unexpected challenges, businesses must have the ability to be nimble. So, while previously, change management was introduced via a top-down approach, where owners and leaders decided on a change and then handed it down to their employees, these days, driving change is a big part of employees’ jobs.  

This works because when employees are brought into your pharmacy’s goals, helped to understand why they’re important and how they impact the employees’ jobs and lives—they're far more likely to be invested in making the changes a success.  

So, whether you’re making the decision to gain control of your pharmacy inventory because of employee feedback or effort, or it’s still a true top-down decision, you can implement the other critical elements of change management to ensure the change is a success. 

Lead Communication with the Benefits to Your Employees

For pharmacy staff who already feel stretched thin, learning a new technology may not feel like something they have the time for. It may feel unwanted, or even unnecessary. 

Lead your communication around the changes with the direct benefits for your employees. Switching to the Datarithm method to optimize pharmacy inventory management saves a tremendous amount of time—for you and your staff. It also makes their jobs easier. Both are a big value for your staff. When you communicate with them, it’s especially effective if you acknowledge the pain they’ve been feeling and cite these benefits as a major reason that led you to this decision and change. 

For example, independent chain retail pharmacy group Sincere Rx came to us as they started to grow and add more stores, cash flow became a more important consideration; Peter saw the cash in accounts start to go down and purchases go up, but revenue stayed relatively flat. He started to consider a perpetual inventory method and sought inventory management technology that could assist him.

Peter believed that a great pharmacy is made up of superior patient care and happy employees. 

Understanding that a typical pharmacy staff is short on bandwidth, Datarithm’s store-level dashboards and taskbar provide easy access to streamlined tasks built for simple, quick completion, resulting in improved staff efficiency. Working as SincereRx’s pharmacy management ally, Datarithm is focused on helping the entire pharmacy team of management and staff understand that the streamlined tasks take work off their plates, allowing more time for other important work and customer service in the pharmacy. 

“I think this is an easy sell to staff and it’s an easy win because it saves them time,” said Peter. “Ordering is complicated—it happens mostly at the end of the day when everyone’s rushing to get home and leave. And by fully relying on the reorder points provided, you can order $20,000 worth of inventory that—you actually need—in 15 minutes, in a couple of clicks.”

“Your staff actually benefits from the ease of ordering, too. You’re actually adding value to the staff, to be honest: you’re making their lives easier, by shortening the order cycle, and you’re simplifying workflow for them.” 

To date, SincereRx has enjoyed an immediate and ongoing improvement in profitability, cash flow, and liquidity, as well as risk reduction as over-stocked and dead inventory was quickly reduced. 

Making your employees’ jobs simpler and faster not only improves your overall operational efficiency, but also frees them up to focus on providing the excellent quality care your patients expect from you and helps retain top employees for longer.  

Train, Train, Train

At Datarithm, our policy is to wait until both management and staff training are complete before moving into execution. Training is that important. A key part of successful change management is building that understanding into any change you’re going to implement.  

It takes time to learn new skills, processes, and technology; you want to enter the implementation process. Communicate that training will be provided, and that you’re on the same team, learning together. You should also: 

Tailor training sessions to the specific roles within your pharmacy. Different staff members may have different responsibilities within the software.  
Provide ongoing training; training should not be a one-time event. Offer ongoing training sessions to keep staff updated on new features and best practices.

Be Open to Employee Feedback

At the end of the day, business decisions like your pharmacy inventory management system are an owner's to make. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t solicit feedback from your employees though.  

Make a feedback ask—and feedback review—a regular part of employee communications, whether it’s monthly to start, then quarterly over the long term. When your employees know they have space to give you their thoughts on how the changes, the new technology, and the new workflows and processes are going, and that you’ll genuinely listen, they’re far more likely to be enthusiastic, positive, and engaged. At the end of the day, like your customers, they understandably want to know that they’ll be heard and that you care about their job experience. It doesn’t mean you’ll act on every concern or complaint, of course, but you can treat that feedback as valuable data to help inform your management. 

As you move further along with your implementation and start to see initial results, you can incorporate internal testing to gauge the pharmacy-wide understanding of the new tasks and systems. As your ally, this is helpful for us too; if you’re not seeing the results you were after, internal testing—combined with feedback—can help us work alongside you to provide more training, tips, and quality control so you can continue to move the needle. 

Leverage Your Advocates 

We typically see higher success rates for implementing new inventory plans and technology in pharmacies that have strong managers.  
It’s common for these pharmacies to have at least one staff member—if not more—take the lead on Datarithm following training, then stay on top of it across the entire pharmacy team, ensuring staff logs in every day to complete their daily tasks. This not only helps reach your goals, but it also helps you keep to your program even through staff turnover challenges. 

You can help encourage this type of leadership and advocacy by: 

  • Assess who has influence among your staff, no matter their formal title or position, and who has a naturally positive attitude toward this change.

  • Communicate with them one-on-one, regularly, so they understand the benefits and the facts and can pass these points on to the rest of your staff. 

  • Invite them into committees and more cross-functional work, so you’re rewarding them and allowing them to further spread their experience and positive influence.

Celebrate Your Wins as a Team 

Just as you should consider training ongoing, regular review should be part of every new initiative too. It’s important to assess your implementation progress and results with your goals regularly, then adjust your strategies as needed.  

Celebrating your wins is just as important though. Just like in the beginning, you’ll want to regularly report wins and communicate how they benefit the business and your team directly. Emphasize how everyone worked together to get there and consider calling out moments of teamwork. Make sure you call out some initial “quick wins” in the beginning stages too, to help give a positive boost of momentum. 

Put the Puzzle Pieces Together  

We understand deeply that running a successful independent pharmacy these days is challenging. From chain and big-box competitors with deep pockets and operational efficiency to evolving customer behavior and increasingly complex compliance rules, it’s not easy. Yet your importance cannot be understated.   

At Datarithm, we know firsthand the value independent pharmacies bring to your communities. Founded by a pharmacist, a medical sales professional, and a software engineer, we share the belief that health and wellness begin with you. We know that when pharmacies survive, communities thrive.   

Yet there are some fundamental principles you can institute that together all add up to a successful formula for a thriving independent pharmacy—whether operating a single store or many. From strong management, employee communication, and training, as we covered today, to how a foundation of effective pharmacy inventory management helps set you up to identify new revenue opportunities and simplify compliance, in our latest guide we’ll take you through each step, so you know exactly what to build.  

The result? A healthy bottom line and exceptional patient experience that helps you stand apart from the chains and thrive for years to come. 

The Success Formula for Thriving Independent Pharmacies

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