No matter how big or small an organisation is, maintaining a steady supply of readily available office supplies can keep costs down and improve overall productivity levels-imagine the stress of spending an entire day preparing a crucial presentation for an important client, only to discover that one of your colleagues used the last of the paper yesterday and didn’t think to tell anyone?
Managing office supplies for a large organisation the easy way
Ideally, stationery and other supplies for the office need to be managed by one person, or if there are multiple offices within the organisation, by one person per office. This role would normally fall within the job description of an office manager, but it can be delegated to a responsible junior member of the administration team. Supplies are also best kept in one central location, from where distribution can be controlled more easily.
It could be argued that small businesses have it easier when it comes to managing stationery and miscellaneous office equipment: invariably one person is in charge of ordering new supplies and it is simple to keep a track on who uses what, whereas for larger organisations it can be a lot harder to maintain control over spending and usage. For this reason, although a regularly updated inventory is essential for all businesses, large organisations in particular will benefit.
Why is a supplies inventory essential?
A supplies inventory helps the office manager to keep track of stationery and office equipment at all times. A list should be made of all supplies at the outset and usage of those supplies tracked over the course of a normal month. When usage patterns have been identified, reordering levels can be established so when the amount of a product falls below a specified level, new supplies can be reordered, which is particularly important for frequently used products such as paper and ink cartridges.
Whilst maintaining high levels of supplies in the office will prevent any catastrophic shortfalls at inopportune moments, they will also take up valuable storage space. An inventory can help to prevent storage problems by always ensuring the optimum levels of supplies are maintained, and by monitoring the inventory at all times, re-supply levels can be adjusted if necessary.
Always keep control over who has access to the supplies in the office. If everyone starts helping themselves to new supplies whenever the mood strikes, stock levels will soon be in disarray and crucial items may run out sooner than expected. To avoid this, carry out a physical stock check at least once per month.
Create purchase orders for every supplies order and check off items delivered against the original order. It is also good practice to maintain a policy whereby all orders are placed through the inventory manager so stock supply levels can be tracked.
How to keep your supplies costs down
Although larger organisations have far greater purchasing power than a small business, it is still essential that office managers do not become lazy by always using the same suppliers. Make a point of regularly price checking popular items in the supplies inventory to ensure you are being given the best prices and do not be afraid to negotiate a better deal if necessary.