How is a warehouse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti setting the global standard for inventory control? It starts with a change in operating procedures but shines thanks to the employees. This is particularly true for the warehouse’s all-female management team who showed their determination to work their way into positions of management.
“A world-class operation (despite) the huge obstacles the team has to overcome every day, and it does provide an alternative view – there are hardworking, talented Haitians who are dedicated and care about the well-being of their country” – Robert Sanders, Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy Haiti.
This management team quickly adapted to new technologies and procedures that lifted the entire warehouse team to new levels. They showed leadership, dynamism, and attention to detail when they led the implementation of the new Warehouse Management Software, mSupply, in January of this year. Their integrity and eagerness to learn motivated the team and ensured all staff adapted to this new tool quickly and efficiently without affecting results. They consistently lead by example, emphasizing discipline and adherence to warehouse standard operating procedures.
Their journey to near-inventory perfection began in 2020 with a shift from periodic to perpetual inventory control*. In essence, this entails moving from yearly stock-taking exercises to daily sampling stock takes, allowing auditing teams to focus on daily randomized sections of the warehouse, an industry best practice also known as geographic cycle counting. This allows the warehouse team to quickly identify inventory variances and address causal factors, such as misplaced or mislabeled items, without wasting time or reducing productivity. This replaces more traditional warehouse-wide stock takes that often require shutting down operations multiple times per year for days at a time.
What were the results of their latest stock take? Well, they achieved a mere 99.985 percent inventory accuracy!
This is a phenomenal result for any warehouse, but we’re not just talking about widgets or numbers in a ledger. Haitians desperately need these life-saving health items at clinics throughout the country. These items include essential medicines, family planning supplies, lab supplies, HIV rapid diagnostic kits, antiretrovirals for people living with HIV, and cholera treatment medicines and supplies.
The importance of their work for local communities is an important motivating factor for the warehouse staff, including their all-female warehouse management team. They make no secret of their desire for perfection – the warehouse team wishes to see a perfect 100 percent score at the year’s end, which would have once been an impossible goal.
“It was not easy at first to implement these changes. Initial perceptions were difficult to work with, but it didn’t take long for our warehouse and finance teams to develop trust in the process and each other. Morale has never been higher.” – Emmanuel Le Perru, Deputy Country Director, GHSC-PSM Haiti
Now, it is one team, one mission. All staff, regardless of function, have taken ownership as they strive for that perfect record. The knock-on effect on other areas of their work has also been noted. It is an incredibly efficient distribution center.
“This team has achieved best-in-class inventory control for GHSC-PSM, and for any commercial operator for that matter. They set the bar for others to follow. With everything our colleagues in Haiti must deal with, their stellar operational conditions and processes are the new standard. The results of their stock takes are stunning. They are my heroes.” – Ralph Titus, Systems Strengthening Director, GHSC-PSM
It is not an easy environment in which to operate. The Haitian people have suffered through a series of hardships in recent years – a 7.2 magnitude earthquake followed hot on the heels of the global COVID-19 outbreak, and the recent cholera resurgence and growing political turmoil feed into a worsening climate of insecurity.
We are proud to say that our USAID Global Health Supply Chain Program-Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) project team in Haiti has continued to fulfill its mission while moving to create more efficiency throughout the entire supply chain. An improved level of efficiency which begins with a warehouse providing exceptional storage and warehouse management services for USAID and the Global Fund in accordance with WHO Good Storage Practices, led by a fabulous local team.