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MTS Blog: Manufacturers’ Top Five Concerns and Why to Disregard Them

Medical device manufacturers are loath to take a critical step that would enable them to reduce inventory and add millions to the bottom line.  That million dollar move?  Incorporating a comprehensive case scheduling and medical inventory management solution.  But, manufacturers have deep reservations about this important shift.  The top five concerns are: rep adoption, integration, change management, resource drain, and giving up their unique way of doing things.  Here’s why those concerns are unfounded and a look at the advantages that come with making the move.

Concern: Reps will never accept a new system.

Manufacturers worry about upsetting the apple cart when it comes to their sales representatives, but the reps understand better than anyone that advanced software is helpful and will enable them to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.  Many sales reps are still using a combination of paper, spread sheets, and squirreled away inventory to meet the demands of their customers.  Technology can save sales reps, on average, about 10 hours per week in needless busy work; time they can better use selling.  A comprehensive case scheduling and medical inventory management solution makes it possible to use a phone app to check inventory, schedule a surgery, and gather signatures while a web-based program handles reporting, forecasting, back-end operations, etc. at another time.  Rep adoption is not an issue if the right technology is in place.

Concern: The integration process will never end. 

It’s true.  Software integration projects with industry giants are a major headache and do take forever and a day.  But, small software companies are the experts in integration.  For a big company, an integration project can take upwards of 6-12 months.  For a start-up software company, integrations are completed in record time, more like 2-3 months.  The difference is that small software companies have a roll-up the sleeves mentality, and they are not afraid to get into the details to solve problems.  They also develop best practices from one integration to another, they keep their teams small so projects are not jettisoned to the most junior employee, and it’s in their best interest to complete integrations smoothly and quickly.     

Concern: Change is too hard.

This is a legitimate concern.  Change is painful.  But, it’s a necessary evil.  Without change, innovation dies and organizations grow stagnant and slow.  Using legacy systems is comfortable.  Management and sales reps get by, but the lack of efficiency exacts a heavy toll in hindering operational progress, hamstringing sales reps, and harpooning opportunities.  The goals in implementing a comprehensive case scheduling and medical inventory management system are to streamline processes, provide critical visibility of medical device inventory supply across the enterprise, and save everyone – from management to operations to sales reps – time that can be better used in growing the business.

Concern: Implementing a new system will be a huge resource drain.

Manufacturers worry that a broad swath of employees will be caught up in the implementation process and core functions will suffer.  The fact is, with an experienced partner, the lean on a manufacturer is relatively light.  Manufacturers need to clearly communicate where their data is, how to gain access, and where they want their data to go.  An expert software partner will know what they need and how the data will flow over integration channels.  The biggest challenge the manufacturer will face is trusting their software provider.  And, trust means the difference between a smooth transition and a choppy one.

Concern: Legacy processes are so specialized that an externally developed system will never work.

Manufacturers like control; that’s why so many of them build internal systems to manage inventory.  But, these systems are often outdated and ineffective.  Small software companies, especially those that focus exclusively on the medical device industry, have seen the inner workings of hundreds of companies with complex inventory management systems.  The funny thing is that processes at these companies are more alike than they are different.  Experienced partners take all this knowledge, develop best practices, and deploy those best practices with their customers.  These partners also are able to customize systems, where necessary, because they have the background, knowledge, and expertise specifically required by medical device manufacturers.

What should manufacturers really be worried about?

The biggest downfall for manufacturers is that something always gets in the way of establishing a comprehensive case scheduling and medical inventory management system.  Implementing a new medical inventory software is not often at the top of the priority list because of the perceived pitfalls and because change is uncomfortable.  The sobering reality, though, is that nothing adds more to the bottom line than streamlined, effective scheduling of cases and management of costly inventory.  Think of it this way: advanced medical inventory management = medical inventory reduction.  Manufacturers with less medical inventory, because that inventory is fully utilized and there is no excess inventory rusting in a sales rep’s trunk, save and add millions to the bottom line.  When working with an experienced partner, that scary leap of faith turns into a big step in the right direction.