Why no minimum and maximum stock levels?(Apr 21, 2008)

If you're a follower of essential drugs training courses and textbooks, you'll know that the most commonly taught method of stock control is for the user to set a minimum and maximum stock level for each item. Then either manually or via software, the items that have fallen below their minimum level have enough stock ordered to build them up to their maximum level.

We think this system can work in certain circumstances, but is generally a bad idea. Here's why.

  •  The user has to maintain the minimum and maximum levels for each item. If your usage varies (and what store has constant usage all the time?), then you either have to adjust the levels or risk running out or having too much stock. If your store has ten items you'll manage. If it has hundreds or thousands, you won't.
  • A maximum level has to be set in relation to a known ordering cycle, lead time and buffer stock. These variables vary, and would require resetting all minimum and maximum levels every time they changed (or more likely is that you ignore the changes and have poor store management).

 That said, mSupply does allow the user to set a minimum stock level, although in most instances we recommend you don't set it- just leave it as zero. The only time it is useful is if you have an item that needs to be kept in stock even though it's usage doesn't justify it (for example, you might keep a kit for treating anaphylactic shock even though you've never used one, as it's life saving when it is needed). By setting a minimum stock level you'll ensure mSupply orders it if for example the previous stock has expired, but the usage suggests that zero is the appropriate quantity.

To understand a bit more about how mSupply orders stock, see this article


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