Getting a Hold on Office Supply Inventory Management
Proactively manage office supply inventory to ensure everyone on your team has the supplies they need to succeed. In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to tackle office supply inventory management, including supply closet organization, inventory supply lists, and free supply request templates. Never run out of envelopes again!
Scroll below for:
- Supply Closet Setup and Organization
- Supplies Around the Office
- Office Supply Inventory Lists
- 3 Ways to Manage Office Supply Requests (with templates)
- Free Downloadable Office Inventory Management Resources
- Building Trust in the Office
Supply Closet Setup and Organization
A Spot for Each Supply
Ensure each supply has a storage location. Without a designated spot for each supply, your closet will get out of your control. It’s a lot of work—we hear ya!—but in the end, an organized supply closet will save you time and money.
Use small boxes, bins, and containers to hold each supply. These will add visual appeal to your supply closet while keeping your supplies organized and secure. This is especially helpful for smaller supplies that can get lost or roll off of a shelf if not stored in a container.
Organize Based on Supply Type
Ensure each supply has its own location organized by the type of supply and the frequency of its use—store all of the writing utensils in the same area, keep all of the paper in the same area, etc. Store the most frequently used items in the most accessible areas, if possible, closer to the entrance of your supply closet/room.
Label Where Supplies Go
Once you have a designated spot for each of your supplies, you need to label them. Don’t skip this step even if you think it’s obvious where the supplies are stored. Each person in the office might have a different interpretation of where a tool should go, and as new hires join your team, labels will ensure they understand your organizational system from day one.
Schedule Supply Closet Cleaning
We said it! Supply closets need cleaning. Don’t wait until your supply closet or room is unwieldy. Regularly scheduled cleanings or organization days will ensure your office supply management is functional and up to date all year round.
Supplies Around the Office
While an office supply closet will keep the majority of your inventory, there are some cases when you need a designated area for supplies throughout the office. Take care when choosing what supplies are stored outside of your inventory area as they will be more challenging to manage and can cause clutter. Only keep office supplies around the office in cases that will make your team more efficient.
📑 Keep paper near the printer or fax machine. You can save your team time and effort by storing paper by any machine that requires frequent paper refills.
🖊 Keep extra dry erase markers near dry erase boards. If a dry erase marker runs out of juice or rolls underneath a table during a meeting or presentation, you don’t want to pause for a trip to the supply cupboard. Always have a sufficient supply of markers available wherever you have whiteboards. Keep them in a designated cup or container for optimal organization. Bonus points if you can match the container to your company branding or office aesthetic!
Which supplies should have a designated location in your office outside of the supply closet? Determine which supplies get used by your team most frequently and which supplies need to be on hand at all times. A simple container for these essential tools will help your team be more efficient.
Office Supply Inventory Lists
To properly manage your office supplies, you need to have an inventory list. We recommend using an online spreadsheet for ease of use and so that the document can be effortlessly shared with other team members. A Google Sheets spreadsheet saves automatically and you can designate editing permissions. They are incredibly customizable so you can design your inventory list to meet the specific needs of your business.
If spreadsheets aren’t your thing, you can easily create an inventory list in a Google Document. Whichever you choose, we recommend using an online document for your inventory so there’s no chance of losing an unsaved file, and to aid in a simple transition whenever new admins are hired.
Sample Office Supply Inventory List
|#||Supply Name||Current Inventory||Storage Location||Where to Purchase||Last Purchase Date||Price|
Office admins can update the online spreadsheet or document as employees request new supplies. The Current Inventory column plays the most important role in an inventory list. As numbers get low, you’ll clearly see what needs to be purchased next.
For smaller offices, you can mandate all employees adjust the spreadsheet each time a supply is removed from your physical inventory. This process may take a while for employees to get used to, but if followed, it will save admins time while keeping track of all supplies.
Are there any supplies that are too small for inventory? For example, your business may not need to ask employees to track smaller items like paper clips, single envelopes, or standard pens. Just make sure an employee or office admin requests more of these supplies as they begin to run low.
3 Ways to Manage Office Supply Requests
Even with a strictly followed inventory list, there will be times employees need to request specific supplies. They may need a supply that’s not currently listed, or they may require a bulk purchase for an event or client project. You can use an office supply request form to manage all new supply requests. You can keep office supply request forms in your office supply closet, or as an online document.
1. Physical Request Letter for Office Supplies
A physical request letter is a full-page sheet that employees submit to admins when they require new supplies. These pages are great for employees who need to submit for multiple items at a time. They also clearly indicate the employee’s department, which comes in handy for larger businesses. The downside is that they require a large amount of paper since each request uses a whole new sheet.
Requested By: ______________________
|Item||Description||Quantity Needed||Price/Unit||Total Price||Date Needed By|
2. Office Supply Request Form in Supply Closet
Another option, which uses far less paper, is to have a general request form inside your supply closet or room. This method is only recommended for small to medium size businesses. Print out an office supply order form template that you keep with your supplies. As people require new supplies, they can fill out the list. Office admins can regularly check the list for supply orders. Don’t forget to store a pen nearby.
A benefit to having your form right in your supply closet is that employees can fill it out as they visually see supplies running low.
|Item||Description||Quantity Needed||Price/Unit||Total Price||Date Needed By||Current Date||Requested By (Name)|
3. Online Office Supply Request Form Spreadsheet
Depending on the size and nature of your business, you may want to consider an online request form. An online format will give employees and admins access even when they are away from the office, which is ideal for remote teams, or teams that have many meetings outside of the office. They will also track all document changes and show who made changes and when. From a computer, employees can easily access online price data and the links to purchasing information.
|Item||Description||Quantity Needed||Price/Unit||Total Price||Date Needed By||Requested By||Department|
Free Downloadable Office Inventory Management Resources
Looking for a readymade office supply inventory spreadsheet or an office supply request form template? Look no further! We’ve put together editable templates in both Word and Excel formats that you can download for free and start using right away. Just use the form below to access templates that you can freely customize for your own office use.
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Building Trust in the Office
Office inventory is all about management, but it’s also about trust. Employers and office admins need to trust that employees will not abuse office supplies or mismanage inventory systems. Trust takes time to build and it works both ways.
Here are some methods for building trust around supplies:
- Include your employees in your supply management process
- Don’t require request forms for smaller, less expensive items
- Give more expensive supplies as gifts for bonuses, or on special occasions
- Create a positive work environment