Configure Location Groups

As indicated in the name, location groups are a way of grouping locations in OpenBoxes. While locations in OpenBoxes are already grouped into Organizations, the relationship between locations and organizations is tied to specific functionality and can’t be easily customized for each customer. Location groups are a more flexible method of grouping, although they are often used to represent a particular geographic area.

What do location groups do?

There are a few different features and views tied to location groups in OpenBoxes:

Visual Grouping in the location chooser: In the location chooser screen, locations are organized by organization, with one left navigation entry for each organization. On the right side of the screen, locations are listed with a box around them indicating the location group. In the example below, the organization is PIH Boston, and within that organization are several locations that all belong to the BHI: Beverly location group.

This helps users find the location they are looking for in an instance where there are a large number of locations.

Limiting options in inbound and outbound shipments: Let’s say you are implementing OpenBoxes for a global network with many hundreds of locations. You may not want users to see all 500 of those locations as available to ship to; particularly if they are in a totally different region. In this case, you can use location groups to limit what users see:

  • Outbound shipments: When creating a shipment, users can only see and select destination wards/dispensaries/pharmacies from within their location group. Any depot can ship to any other depot, so it is possible to send shipments between location groups. But a depot within one location group will not see wards within another location group as available destinations.
  • Inbound shipments: Incoming shipments can come from depots in any locations group, and suppliers within the location group, or with no location group. However, suppliers in a different location group will not be available to ship to your location. To make a supplier available to all locations, simply leave it without a location group.

You may be thinking - wait, I want all my location to be able to see and ship to all my other locations! In that case, location groups aren’t for you! You can just leave all of your locations with no location group and everything will work fine.

Possible Location Group Configurations

Ex 1: One location group per facility

In this example, each hospital is a location group, and each department inside the hospital is a ward. The main pharmacy at each hospital is a depot, so the hospital pharmacies can send stock to one another. But an administrator at Mwanza District Hospital cannot see the Men’s ward at Mwanza Central Hospital.

Ex 2: One location group per region or district

In this example, both hospitals in Mwanza, and all the local clinics, are in one location group. The district hospital and central hospital can send to one another, and also to all the clinics, which are not depots within the system. They can also send to each other’s wards, which is why this method works better if you aren't tracking distribution to several wards per hospital. In the example below, all outs for each hospital are grouped under one wards location.

Ex 3: One location group per region with regional warehouse model and facilities as wards

In this model, each district has a warehouse that serves all facilities in that district. The district warehouses are depots, and can send to each other and the national level central warehouse. They can only send to facilities within their region, and those facilities don't track inventory in OB. An alternate model is to make all the facilities depots so they can track stock in OB, and then have one or two wards per facility where they send their stock.

As you can see, there are many different ways to configure the same set of locations. The most important thing is to come up with a set up that allows depots to have access to all the destination locations they server, while also preventing them from seeing a large number of irrelevant locations. 

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