Twelve (12) Critical Questions for Your Inventory Management System

Written By

Nicolas Orrego
Nicolas Orrego

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Determining which Inventory Management System with which to entrust your field operations is no simple effort.

Standardizing, automating, and optimizing operations requires streamlined, efficient processes.

However, the complex operations of a medical devices business—with multiple organizations working together using various inventory types, each with their own set of business rules—is often poorly managed using a collection of disconnected tools and inefficient processes.

The below 12 questions (each accompanied with an elaboration) are critical to ask of any solution to assess if it is up to the task:

  1. What types of orders can be generated and processed automatically, triggered by field user activity?

When all types of orders can be generated within the same system based on field input signals, sourcing can be automated across all locations, usage restock orders can be auto-generated, and shipment optimization can reduce freight costs.

  1. How does your system discern and manage various stock types (i.e. Consignment / Loaner / Trunk)?

By distinguishing inventory types, a system can facilitate various business processes that follow specific usage, billing, and restocking rules. Having one system manage all stock allows for efficient distribution and intelligent reallocation of stock to optimize inventory and maximize asset utilization.

  1. How are complex multi-organizational relationships in real life operations represented and accounted for in your system?

Flexible hierarchy and linkages in the system that reflect real-life organizational structure across multiple business units, divisions, countries, markets and between any configuration of sales and ops teams keeps the system accurate, up-to-date, and in sync with real life activities.

  1. Which field activities can be performed on a personal mobile device using a native app?

A native app offers the premium experience expected by today’s mobile users. It supports a superior interface with greater capabilities than a mobile website: the ability to cache data for faster performance, to provide necessary functions when offline, to use the phone camera to scan barcodes or connect to Bluetooth scanners.

  1. How can your system scale operations without adding overhead?

If all the jobs to be done can be performed within one purpose-built system, that has an easy-to-use interface, there is less manual effort, the learning curve is shorter, and the focus shifts from tribal knowledge to intuitive processes. Coupled with system efficiencies, this allows the same number of support staff to serve much larger field teams.

  1. How does your system track in real time non-serialized contents within each container (set, kit, tray)?

Container tracking is not just using a BOM definition of what should be in a kit, or tracking a container SKU separate from a group of associated loose items. It’s the ability to track nested containers with piece-level visibility of every SKU, including lot-controlled items within kits and as loose items outside of kits.

  1. Which shipping activities are optimized and automated via real-time carrier integrations?

Leveraging integrations with major shipping carriers can provide real-time tracking, optimization savings, and shipping activity automations. i.e. Automated labeling, packing sheet generation, tracking, rating, and the ability to attribute freight spend to revenue lines.

  1. How does your system forecast and allocate currently reserved stock that will become available in the future?

When planning for and sourcing a case, a system that can go beyond simple case-by-case allocation from currently available stock looks into the future to allocate stock based on the multiple factors that determine stock availability. Specifically, planning against organization-wide surgery schedules, taking into consideration hospital lead times, cutoffs and processing times, and then leveraging advanced predictive analytics with AI/ML algorithms enables forecasting future availability across all inventory types and all locations.

  1. How does your system handle loan modifications such as add-ons, cancelations, or new business opportunities?

When simple loan adjustments reflect real-life actions, intelligent communication of changes throughout the system enables fast product turns, visibility, and efficiency—so there are no surprises.

  1. Explain how the system would be implemented in a hybrid-RFID scenario, and are any additional tools or middleware needed?

RFID is a data entry method (like scanning, form selection, etc.); Not all product types or location types justify its use, and implementation is often incremental. A hybrid implementation, with direct hardware integrations (no middleware required), streamlines and automates logistics processes in the system to match needs in reality.

  1. How does your system reduce ERP traffic burden, setup complexity, and daily use effort (especially working with multiple/migrating ERPs)?

ERPs are a necessary financial system of record, but are not designed for the complex kit management and frequent transfer of inventory between locations and sublocations that medical device field operations requires. Independent, purpose-built inventory systems with active integrations into any ERP means the heavy lifting is done outside of the ERP, and the system can trigger any financial transactions within the ERP.

  1. Can you describe any actionable data insights provided within your application?

Any system that manages field operations has the opportunity to collect vast amount of valuable physical and financial transaction data—which, applied with advanced analytics and algorithms can drive planning, reallocation, efficiencies, and process improvements.


The responses to each of the above questions (or evasion of such) will form a significant indication of any given solution’s ability to succeed at more than operations optimization—that is: true business transformation. Deeply integrated, comprehensive, purpose-built capabilities provide the framework for efficiency improvement and automation. This is critical to ensuring exceptional service for the customer, and a quality experience for field inventory teams. Which, beyond inventory management, builds the loyalty that helps the entire organization excel.

If you would like to evaluate the effectiveness of your current or next Inventory Management System, let’s talk about what matters most for the success of your business and operations.

Contact us here:  / call 877.469.3992 or watch this VIDEO (executive case study)


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