Fridays are 20% slower in terms of orders compared to the rest of the week.
HappiLabs took a snapshot of the last 10,000 orders placed by the Virtual Lab Manager team by day of the week.
Why ordering slows on Fridays
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are busiest for order requests, perhaps reflecting scientists ordering for the next work week or VLMs working hard to get orders in that will deliver by week’s end.
Scientists may not be making as many order requests on Fridays because the weekend is calling. Scientists like to have fun too.
Many suppliers will not ship on Fridays or process an order until the following week (especially if a West coast scientists requests an item from an East Coast supplier on Friday afternoon). VLMs know this and may hold off on ordering until Monday morning because the order will not ship or sometimes even be processed until then anyhow. Scientists likely have a sense of this as well.
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 like this:
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 response times scientists are happy with and assess our efforts in June.
Layered on S.M.A.R.T. goals is setting good goals. Re-assessing goals is also 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.?