21 Jul There Are a Lot of Office Necessities, But Are You Wasting Money on Your Office Supplies?
Whether it’s stationery, furniture, office machines, paper, accessories or just the tea and coffee in your office kitchen, it can be hard to keep track of all the supplies you need to keep your office going.
This stuff is as basic to your office as lighting, heating and having air to breathe, so it can be hard to keep an eye what your business is spending.
Why does this matter? It’s only a few pens and pencils, right?
Not necessarily – like a lot of businesses, you could be spending far more than you need to. Precisely because many businesses don’t see office supplies a significant overhead, they don’t regulate their spending particularly closely. Office supplies can easily become a big hidden cost in your business.
If employees want to order in a few extra toner cartridges, so be it. An extra tin of coffee or two for the kitchen? Where’s the harm in that? If the warehouse manager wants to keep a stock of health & safety notices ‘just in case’ they are needed, what’s the problem?
Well, the problem is, it soon mounts up.
What’s the real story?
Tracking and managing office supplies might seem to be a challenge, but only because it’s one of those things that tends to get forgotten about in a lot of businesses. The good news is, it is reasonably easy to get a grip of the expenditure. Like a lot of things in life, it’s a matter of applying common sense.
Just run through the checklist of ten simple questions below:
- What items do I need to keep in stock at all times? (What are the basic requirements that I need to have to ‘keep the trains running on time’?)
- How much of each item should we keep in stock?
- Which department or person is requesting this item, and how much do they need?
- What is the purpose for the request? (Think about the example above of the warehouse manager ordering H&S signs ‘just in case’).
- What is the urgency?
- How reliable is the supplier?
- Have we benchmarked the costs?
- Can I get this on a next day delivery if it becomes urgent?
- Have I received it and, if so, when?
- Was it out of stock, do I need to reorder it, is there a reasonable substitute that will do the job, or can I go without?
The bottom line:
Getting started on the questions above might seem difficult. How do you even answer question one?
After all, as we said earlier, ‘Office Supplies’ is a broad church covering almost everything you use on a daily basis in your business. From wastebaskets and filing cabinets, through kitchen and janitorial supplies, to paper, pens and pencils; almost all of the stuff you need to keep your business running comes under the heading of ‘Office Supplies’.
But if you compile a simple office supply checklist (and keep reading, because we have got something FREE that can help get you started), you can track what your business is buying, and start to see trends of how often items are being ordered.
When you have done that, you can start to drill into the information and use it to manage your capital spend and your stockholding more effectively.
- Are you seeing waste?
- Could you even have a theft problem?
- Are you stocking the right amounts? You may have too much of some items and not enough of others.
You can track whether you are receiving all the items you order. You can identify if you are having a problem with your supplier, including seeing how long it takes for an order to arrive. Then you can start to buy smarter – for example, if your supplier can get stock to you quickly and efficiently, do you need to keep as much in stock? You may want to reduce your stock holding on some items, unless there is a cost advantage to ordering in bulk.
Here’s the deal:
To get you started Office Prime Supplies have produced a FREE officesupply checklist in a simple adaptable template. The link takes you to the document which you can download in Excel; a nice, clear, easily adjustable, and printable format. It’s ready populated with 440 commonly-ordered products.
Okay, it’s not rocket science, but it helps to get you going. The Excel document is only an example. It’s intended to be a useful base that you can build upon so adapt it or come up with your own. Just download it and edit it for your business’ specific needs.
Other things to consider:
You may want a manager’s signature for approval and date line at the top or the bottom of the final form if management approval is part of your process (and if it isn’t, maybe it should be?)
Of course, if you open an account with Office Prime Supplies we can help you with this.
Our simple, secure online account ordering structure allows you to set user access privileges for your employees. You can give some people in your organisation the ability to create an order, but not the authority to place that order. Very simply, the order will go to you or to a user you appoint (like a buyer or someone in your finance team) to be authorised before it is submitted to us as your supplier.
Thanks for reading, and if you think that this information will be of use to someone else you know, please don’t hesitate to share it.