Asset Management

Customer Success Story: How USF College of Nursing Achieved Inventory Excellence with Sortly

December 14, 2023 • 10 min read

The University of South Florida College of Nursing is a world-class nursing program with locations in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota-Manatee, Florida. As part of the curriculum, USF provides experiential learning and simulation activities which require the use of high-value medical equipment. As the department’s equipment inventory has grown in size and complexity over the years, they needed an inventory management solution that could help them track, manage, and maintain their high-value equipment across their campus locations.

Since implementing Sortly in 2020, the College of Nursing has become a more efficient, organized department that is able to seamlessly manage its vast inventory of equipment and supplies to offer the best educational experience possible. We spoke with our amazing customer Johairis “Joy” Ayala-Falcon, the department’s Simulations Operations Manager, about how she used Sortly to transform the College of Nursing’s inventory management processes. 

USF College of Nursing’s Inventory Management Needs and Challenges

As Simulations Operations Manager, Joy oversees all nursing equipment used in experiential learning activities for undergraduate and graduate students across the College of Nursing’s four different campuses. As part of their curriculum, the department utilizes high-value medical and simulation equipment such as medical manikins, task trainers, infusion pumps, medication dispensing machines, hospital beds, code carts, and more. When Joy initially stepped into her role, she became responsible for tracking the location, maintenance schedule, and serial numbers of this extensive inventory—which posed significant challenges.

Prior to adopting Sortly, the department relied on inventory spreadsheets, a cumbersome and time-consuming method that lacked the flexibility and customization needed to effectively manage their vast inventory. According to Joy, spreadsheets posed lots of limitations for the level of equipment tracking they would need: “If something were to be purchased and somebody forgot to update it, it’s really easy for things to fall through the cracks if you don’t update it automatically.”

Beyond simply documenting equipment information in a static location, Joy knew they needed a solution that would:

  • Help them accurately track equipment location, as their equipment inventory frequently moves across multiple campuses. 
  • Maintain accurate, detailed maintenance records in order to prevent costly equipment malfunctions. Medical simulation equipment has very specific maintenance and repair requirements; if the equipment misses maintenance or preventative maintenance dates, it could be very expensive and cause interruptions to the learning process.
  • Track serial numbers of every piece of equipment in their inventory. Not only would this help to track which specific item was used or moved, but it’s vital when communicating with vendors about warranty-covered repairs. 
  • Manage the other assets and supplies the department uses to operate.
  • Be easy, intuitive, and flexible enough for their whole team to use across all their campus locations.

Suffice to say, they had complex inventory needs and needed a highly customizable system they could adapt to suit the wide range of inventory items they track. Joy wanted to find the right solution that would help the department stay organized for good. 

USF College of Nursing equipment

USF’s College of Nursing’s Journey to Streamlined Inventory Management

In late 2020, Joy was introduced to Sortly by her predecessor. She immediately recognized the platform’s potential to streamline their operations. She embraced Sortly’s user-friendly interface and its ability to accommodate a wide range of inventory items and set out to revamp the department’s inventory management practices. 

“I have been in the field of healthcare simulation for the past 9 years and I have never seen a product that works like Sortly,” said Joy. “It has revolutionized the way I keep track of equipment and supplies inventory across [our] four instructional sites.”

Joy meticulously input every piece of equipment into Sortly, capturing essential details such as location, quantity, serial numbers, purchase date, brand/manufacturer, last preventative maintenance date, product link, repair status, and more. She also uploaded photos of each item, enabling visual tracking of their entire inventory. This also had the secondary benefit of facilitating onboarding for new employees, as it let them see and get to know the equipment. 

Joy is a specialist in her field and knows the department’s simulation equipment very well. Sortly provided the opportunity to track and customize all of the necessary details about each piece of equipment. She said the process was “worth every second, for sure,” as it gave her the opportunity to be in tune with her equipment while adding photos and confirming each piece’s location. 

Joy and her team love how easy to use Sortly is—no matter what device they may be using. They track equipment seamlessly across both desktop and mobile devices, which allows them to build equipment tracking efficiently into their workdays. “If I already have a file of photos that I need to upload for some reason, I’ll do that on my desktop,” said Joy. “But if I’m going to a room and I feel like I want to do inventory, then I’ll use my phone.”

Today, Joy tracks more than just the department’s medical equipment with Sortly. ”Not only do I use it for inventory tracking of equipment and supplies, but I also have furniture, A/V equipment, and, believe it or not, usernames and passwords associated with our equipment,” Joy said. Sortly is customizable and flexible enough to track it all with ease.

Aside from day-to-day inventory tracking, Sortly also helped Joy and her colleagues physically move their inventory when their department moved to a temporary space in April. Ahead of the move, Joy said, “I was able to offload a spreadsheet of everything I’d entered about all our equipment [in Sortly]. I was able to—in a virtual world—move it from this location to that location because I could keep track of exactly what I had. Of course my team had to do boots-on-the-ground moving of all that equipment… but when it comes to organization, I give a lot of credit to Sortly because I was able to offload that information and then think about where to put our equipment before it even happened.”

USF College of Nursing equipment

Related: 5 Trends To Look Out For in Education Inventory Management

Key Sortly Features That Help USF College of Nursing Manage Their Inventory

Sortly’s helpful features helped Joy solve the department’s complex inventory management challenges. Here are a few of the team’s favorite features.

Custom folders. Recognizing the importance of mirroring the physical storage arrangement of their equipment, Joy meticulously created custom folders within Sortly to mirror the physical layout of their locations and storage spaces. This approach created a digital replica of their physical inventory storage, ensuring easy navigation and equipment retrieval.

Custom fields. Joy and her colleagues use custom fields to track every detail about their equipment, including serial numbers, quantity, location, and more. She also recently added associated purchase orders as a custom field, which allows them to keep tabs on vendor payment requests and ensure timely payments. When initially adding custom fields in Sortly, Joy said she reverse-engineered what information she would need. “I thought of the custom fields backwards,” she said. “So, what would be the key pieces of information that I would like to have in a report? And I started entering those fields [into Sortly]. There’s so much information and so much equipment. I really like the ability to create custom fields and just offload that report and filter if I have to.” 

Alerts. The department sets date-based alerts in Sortly to remind them when it’s time for routine maintenance on their high-value equipment, which is critical for protecting their equipment and ensuring its longevity. 

Photos. The photos feature allows Joy and her team to visually track all their equipment and items—they simply snap a photo on their smartphones and upload it into the item details. This helps ensure that they are updating the exact right item, and has the secondary benefit of allowing new employees to get up to speed on all their equipment—even from other campuses. They simply peruse Sortly to see photos of each type of equipment and the associated information.

Reports. One of Joy’s favorite Sortly features? Reports. They have been a game-changer for the department, which previously struggled to collate accurate data about their entire equipment inventory. With Sortly, they are able to run reports that include all the data in their unique custom fields.

Joy loves being able to run reports right from her phone and send it off to her colleagues. “I really like the preventive maintenance [custom field] because at the end of the year I do hard inventory and run a report,” she said. According to Joy, she reviews that report to see how long her equipment warranties will last and makes a judgment call on whether to extend the warranty with the vendor or let it end and pay out of pocket in the event repairs are needed.

Reporting also came in particularly handy when USF was in the process of re-accreditation. As part of the process, Joy’s superiors requested full documentation of what equipment was purchased during a specific time period. Because Joy and her team kept fully accurate records in Sortly, this request only took a matter of minutes. 

Nursing simulation equipment

Benefits of Sortly for USF College of Nursing

Maximizing equipment use

One of the primary benefits of Sortly has been its ability to optimize equipment utilization. In other words, if the department knows what they have, they can use it—plus, it helps them stay within the equipment’s warranty period. According to Joy, “When you purchase a piece of equipment, it comes with a period of warranty. If you have a staff member that’s not aware it exists, then they’re not going to use it, and when they start using it and it breaks down, you’re going to have to pay a lot of money if you’re not within that warranty period.” 

Driving ROI

Adopting Sortly actually drove ROI across the department as well, as they were able to maximize the value of their inventory and minimize unnecessary expenditures. According to Joy, “Having a true knowledge of what you have available and what it’s for gives you extreme ROI right off the bat.” Now the team is able to make informed decisions regarding equipment procurement, maintenance, and replacement.

Informing purchasing

Sortly also makes equipment purchasing much more efficient and enables Joy to make informed purchases a semester ahead of time. “I set hard inventory dates in preparation for the upcoming semester, and then I can just rely on Sortly when it comes time to do the purchasing,” Joy said. “I rely on those counts to make good predictions of what I need to purchase for the next semester.”

Saving time

Adopting Sortly also drove significant time savings for the department. Prior to Sortly, manual searching and time-consuming data entry processes were the norm. However, the team can now quickly and easily access the information they need, eliminating the need for tedious manual searches. 

They also enjoy a speedier maintenance process with their vendors; the team can quickly access equipment serial numbers from the Sortly app without having to, for example, drive 45 minutes to St. Petersburg to get the serial numbers from physical equipment. This has freed up valuable time that can be dedicated to more value-added activities, such as providing exceptional support to nursing students.

Above all, Sortly has helped keep their department organized, efficient, and running smoothly.

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Joy’s unwavering commitment to inventory management excellence has led to the adoption of Sortly across multiple colleges within USF Health. She has become a passionate advocate for Sortly, presenting at national and international conferences to share her remarkable success story. According to Joy, “Sortly has been the missing piece to my passion for equipment and supplies inventory tracking within healthcare simulation. Thank you!”

Would your business or department benefit from a smarter inventory and equipment tracking solution? Learn how Sortly can transform your organization’s inventory processes with our easy inventory management solution.