Hi all! Things are going well in Montana! I have recently learned that my employer originally intended to have 2-3 individuals working on this project, but as a small non-profit, they could only secure one person, and that’s me! It’s a little overwhelming, I have rooms and rooms of miscellaneous medical equipment and supplies, without any framework to begin with. While trying to create an inventory system, clients are coming and going, and new donations are flowing in and out, which makes trying to start keeping track of our system a little bit difficult.
Originally, we had all staff members taking people upstairs, and allowing them to take whatever they needed for “as long as they needed”. With just notes on pieces of paper to try to legitimize the transaction. I have stopped all staff from doing this, and now all loans will go through me until I can catch up with the inventory and finish sorting and labeling all of the items.
Because we can’t afford any fancy inventory software, I am building the tracking system and the database through Microsoft Access. I’ve never used Access before, so this is unknown territory for me. I also have created a loan agreement, new loan policies (120 days, with option to extend for another 120 days, and they can purchase the item at any time), and am creating a new system for processing new donations (what we do, and do not accept), while weeding out any prescription items accidentally on-hand and finding organizations legally able to accept and refurbish the equipment.
It’s a big task. With over 800 people last year borrowing (unlimited) medical equipment, the program is growing dramatically. The inventory system is necessary for this organization to be able to 1) keep track of their equipment, who has it, and for how long 2) see quantifiable information about what items are in highest demand, what ones we should remove from the program 3) have data on hand for writing grants and requesting funding from donors.
I’m excited and overwhelmed by this project, but thankfully, the staff and volunteers at my organization are a wonderful support system, always willing to help out or answer any questions I have.