Mimicry is pretty common in nature. As in nature, so with lab supplies.
An ever-evolving ocean of distinct products exists. No one scientist needs all products available in their career, of course. However, even when focused on basic items, confusion can occur due to what is essentially mimicry, AKA “branding”.
Quantities matter in science. Ordering the requisite items for present experimental needs is efficient, avoids clutter, and reduces waste.
The language of quantities when ordering lab supplies, however, is often ambiguous:
“Order a tube of Taq.”
“Get three boxes of serological pipettes.”
Some suppliers are easy with quantities designated by unique catalog numbers (Thank you NEB and Biolegend).
Some make it harder.
Each, Pack, and Case
Each, pack, and case can all be considered a box of an item and sometimes one catalog number corresponds to all three tiers (e.g. some listings at VWR).
Packs and cases can also contain single items. Requesting a case of media supplied one bottle per case will result in receiving one bottle. Unless the request was stated in number of bottles, less media than requested will arrive.
The good news there: ordering more is easier than having too much and trying to return some.
Item quantities are variable and every supplier is slightly different.
Check the Amount
Virtual Lab Managers meticulously checks quantity when ordering.
Asking the requestors to clarify is a best practice:
“This media is sold 1 bottle/case. Do you need more than one bottle?”
“A case contains 3,000 syringes. Do you need that many?”
HappiLabs’ core goal is to improve the happiness of scientists and the quality of their research.
How do we know if we’re achieving that goal with the scientists we work with?
Sometimes we get direct feedback from scientists as in this recent example:
“Happy Holidays HappiLabs! Thanks for all the orders you have placed for us and all the help! You guys are amazing.”
This is good feedback and suggests we’re doing well, but this is a result of focusing on actions we can take to ensure scientists are happy. For instance, we actively work to respond quickly to emails.
We work to have S.M.A.R.T. goals:
Specific – Respond quickly to messages and requests.
Measurable – How fast do we respond?
Achievable – The Virtual Lab Manager team can work to cut response times.
Relevant – The better we are at timely responses, the happier we make scientists.
Timed – We will work to achieve peak efficiency in responses & then
Layered on S.M.A.R.T. goals is setting good goals. Re-assessing goals is allowed.
As scientists, HappiLabs likes data. Data from S.M.A.R.T. goals turns into real world difference-making, including making scientists happy.
As you plan for 2018 and beyond, are your goals good and S.M.A.R.T.?