Tips to Manage Inventory and Save Time

The right approach to inventory and time management can significantly contribute to the success of your biotechnology lab.

Inventory Management

Consider the following aspects of inventory and order management:

  • Keep a record of all materials used and received; spreadsheets should include vendor name, manufacturer, description, package size, part number, date received, date retired, expiration date, etc.
  • Use inventory sheets to help keep workstations organized
  • Assign the responsibility for maintaining inventory in particular areas to students or groups
  • Create inventory sheets for each lab station; require inventory checks at the beginning and end of every class
  • Designate a specific place for students to record when the “last bottle” is almost empty; use that information to amend orders
  • Allow time for inventory and lab station/workplace maintenance
  • Use a program like ChemAssist to link your chemical inventory to multiple devices and users
  • Work with your dedicated sales representative to find replacement products or schedule product deliveries

Time Management

Decide which activities you must perform yourself. When making this decision, consider all your other responsibilities: teaching, coaching, acting as department chair, and more. Determine what activities should be graded and decide whether students, administrators, or committee members can be assigned to complete these tasks.

Investigate alternative test methods and other faster, better, or less expensive lab techniques, including:

Depending on your work, there may also be other ways to gain efficiencies in the lab.

The above information is the property of Ellyn Daugherty, founder of the San Mateo Biotechnology Career Pathway (SMBCP) and author of Biotechnology: Science for the New Millennium, Second Edition, 2017. For more information, visit