Science Shopping Spree Stumbles: The Biggest Procurement Hurdles of 2023

The Research Gate Lab Purchasing Report 2018 found that when it comes to purchasing lab supplies and equipment, it's usually a group effort involving 3-4 people. While lab managers and principal investigators may have the most sway in the decision-making process, other members of the lab often have a significant say as well.

In the world of scientific research, procuring the necessary consumables, chemicals, and equipment can be a complex and time-consuming process. Scientists often have to navigate complex purchasing channels and supply chains, and must stay on top of vendor and product alternatives. Anyone who has had to procure lab supplies for critical experiments knows how frustrating and stressful it can be when faced with roadblocks and delays. Time is of the essence when it comes to procuring research materials!

In this article, we'll discuss four of the most common challenges that scientists face when managing the process. We'll also explore some innovative solutions that are making a big difference for research organizations around the world.

Challenge #1: Balancing Purchasing with Full-Time Research Procuring lab supplies and equipment involves more than just placing orders. It also requires inventory control, order tracking, vendor selection, price negotiation, and contract management. This can be a lot to manage, especially for scientists who are conducting full-time research. Balancing purchasing responsibilities with research duties can be frustrating and time-consuming, and can negatively impact lab productivity.

When a scientist takes on the role of purchaser, it can become a massive task that detracts from their scientific work. In cases where hiring a dedicated procurement manager is not feasible, outsourcing procurement to a third-party team can help accelerate research and reduce frustration for the entire lab.

Challenge #2: Negotiating Pricing and Terms Scientists naturally want to negotiate the best possible pricing for lab supplies and equipment. However, many scientists lack experience in negotiations, which can be a complex and time-consuming process. Additionally, securing a quote can take several days or weeks, depending on the product and vendor. Although finding the lowest price is important, scientists may prioritize receiving items quickly over securing the best deal.

Challenge #3: Supply Chain Disruptions The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on global supply chains, leading to disruptions in the delivery of lab supplies and research materials. Increased demand for COVID-19 research and testing products, quarantines, and global shipping disruptions have all contributed to these challenges. Supply chain issues can cause delays, inflate prices, and bring scientific studies to a halt. While there is no clear end in sight, partnering with skilled professionals who specialize in risk management and supply chain resiliency can help organizations navigate these complex challenges.

Challenge #4: Maintaining Clear and Accurate Purchase Records Maintaining accurate and thorough records of purchasing activities is essential for any organization's growth and development. However, this can be a manual and time-consuming process, especially as the volume of transactions increases. For scientists who are already juggling multiple complex projects, managing lab documents and record-keeping can be overwhelming.

In conclusion, over-burdening scientists with purchasing responsibilities can lead to burnout, reduced performance, and increased risks for the organization. By outsourcing procurement, negotiating effectively, partnering with supply chain experts, and streamlining record-keeping processes, research organizations can help unburden their scientists and achieve greater success. ANR aims to simplify the procurement process for researchers to maximize their time and funding to achieve their research goals. Talk to us today!