Computerization in dental labs
The more I talk to lab owners the more I realize how the weekly web tips are addressing a very acute portion of the dental lab owner population. So this week will be focused on the earlier process of computerizing the lab and the pros and cons.
Let me start with the glass being half empty approach and talk about the cons:
Change, that big scary thing that keeps business owners firmly fixed in their traditional systems.
Initial set up cost, comes with every change
Learning a new system, which can be the deterrent for most.
Computers break down and when they do everything is gone and it can bring your business to a halt
Now lets look at the benefits:
Time. The 6 hours you or one of your employees spend on invoicing every month consumes an enormous amount of time. Searching through mountains of filing cabinets trying to find a case history statement or files to reconcile against accounting can take hours.
Money. Put simply, take the amount of hours you take doing your books, allocating work to technicians, searching for case history files, searching for cases, mapping out driver routes, the hours your drivers take driving back to pick up a forgotten case, the amount of time deciphering the Rx and transferring that information to a work ticket etc. and then multiply it by the hourly rate you pay that person. You'll be surprised how much not organizing the lab electronically is costing you.
Organization. Knowing where everything is and being able to respond quickly to a doctor's request is empowering and shows your customer that your business is professional and organized.
Accountability. Knowing who did what in your business means employees perform more responsibly.
Value. Having your business practices, processes and information in order not only helps with FDA, DAMAS, ISO compliance etc. It also adds value to the business itself. A dental lab with accurate records will sell for a lot more than one that doesn't know when the last time.
And lastly to address the computer crashing contingency. Web based systems and computer systems in the cloud - for example your email, your bank, government information, facebook, google, all the programs on your phone are all complete or hybrid web based systems. These protect against the dependency on your computer so if something does happen you still have all your information and can still continue to run your business.
For medium to large labs 5+ employees the savings are phenomenal for the small labs it means more time at the bench and less time doing the books.
Now I know how meaningless it is to post a computerization post through a private web forum because just to view this, chances are you're already computerized, but hopefully you'll read this and have some information for friends in the industry who haven't made the switch yet.