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Eight key learnings on implementing efficiencies in your internal supply chain

Eight key learnings on implementing efficiencies in your internal supply chain

With the launch of the eProcurement strategy by the Department of Health in May, the topic of in-trust supply chain efficiencies for clinical supplies has been given much needed visibility.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

With the launch of the eProcurement strategy by the Department of Health in May, the topic of in-trust supply chain efficiencies for clinical supplies has been given much needed visibility.

Working in collaboration with a number of NHS acute and community organisations to help them identify and implement efficiencies in their internal supply chains, we have compiled a list below of the most common learnings from these projects.

While fairly basic, we hope they provide a useful starting point if you are embarking on similar initiatives:

  1. Right stakeholders involved from the start
    The most obvious of learnings and applicable to any project, but the critical factor here is confidence. If they feel the change in process risks availability of products and therefore their patients, you won’t get the buy in.
  2. Map and understand current process
    Intrinsically linked with #1, you need to take the time to understand the process you are trying change. Achieve this and you have a much greater chance of succeeding on #1.
  3. Get the backing of your board
    Gather performance data to enable you to explain the impact of the project your board using relevant metrics e.g. product availability, cost of emergency orders, cancelled procedures to secure their sponsorship.
  4. Process governance over new infrastructure
    Just investing in new infrastructure may not fix problems in your internal supply chain. Back to #1, take the time to understand your current processes and where they are broken in order to accurately specify the requirements to fix them.
  5. Realise your easy wins
    Understand where good practice is already happening and focus on spreading that across the trust such as clear shelf labelling, understood by all and ensuring the right products are available from the right location when they are needed
  6. Implement changes consistently
    Failure to implement changes consistently in your internal supply chain i.e. inconsistent labelling, will cause confusion for nurses, clinicians and material management and will ultimately inhibit the success of the project
  7. Data must be usable, accurate and easy to gather
    Whether talking at board level or frontline teams, you can’t have a constructive discussion without usable and accurate data. However, those conversations will not lead to long term improvement unless you have easy ways of capturing the data such as front-end data capture devices
  8. Do not underestimate resources
    Change that will deliver sustained improvement over the long term may require significant realignment of resources. Again, back to #1, ensure you understand the process you are changing and the impact it will have on resources across all the teams involved.

These learnings have come from three internal supply chain projects undertaken by our Service Solutions Team.

Find out more and download the case studies from these projects:

Further Information

To find out how we can help you identify efficiencies in your internal supply chain, contact your local NHS Supply Chain Account Manager.

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