When pull comes to push


These days there is a general move towards Pull systems where you empower the periphery to make their own decisions about how much stock they need to order. This is good for several reasons:

  •  It's the way mSupply was originally designed to work!
  •  It assumes the peripheral centres are able to make good decisions- this empowers them.
  •  It provides training opportunities for people away from the centre to develop skills in ordering.
  •  Those making decisions are able to take into account factors that the centrally located workers know nothing about
  •  It reduces central administration
That said, we're building some tools into mSupply that will allow it to function better in a Push situation. Now we need to convince you that that isn't a backwards step! Here goes:
  • Some of our clients insist on this, and as good suppliers of software, we want to do what our clients need. Now that by itself would be a bit of a cop out, as we also want to have some input into good medical distribution, and building the wrong methods into mSupply wouldn't be helpful. However, in talking to clients we've become convinced that in some situations a push system is the best, at least until a pull system is viable.
  • Often there just isn't the skilled people power around to do what needs to be done.
  • It allows good decisions to be made centrally that couldn't be made if you all receive from clients is an order. As you now know their stock levels and their usage, you can decide to ration out stock when there's a shortage much more fairly. You can even decide to move stock between remote clients.
Here's how the system we're building into mSupply works
  • Clients regularly submit a stock list with their current stock holding to the central supply point that is running mSupply. This submission can be via hard copy or with a web browser.
  • Then central operators enter the data by first entering the name of the client- the user is shown a standard list of items that the client gets (this list can be customised for each client, and enters in the stock on hand figures.
  • As this same operation has been done the previous ordering cycle, mSupply now knows:
    • current stock on hand
    • previous stock on hand
    • how much was supplied in the interim (this will only work if the client has a single supplier)
  • mSupply can now calculate the average usage, and once we enter the number of days stock to order, it can calculate how much to supply. The user can then adjust quantities, and then can automatically generate a customer invoice, and from there a pick slip for the warehouse staff to start issuing the goods.

We're also working on a simpler system, commonly known as "imprest", where each client has an stock level specified for each item, and mSupply takes the stock on hand figures and subtracts them from the imprest level to calculate what to supply. This is most useful in hospital settings for supply to wards.

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