How To Implement Asset and Inventory Management in Schools

Teenage Students With Teacher In IT Class

Alice Cooper once crooned, “School’s out for summer!/No more pencils, no more books.”

What’s disturbing is how a lack of proper asset management could easily prove him right!

How many people wall through the halls over the courses of terms and handle textbooks, computers, tablets, and other assets needed to our schools to run efficiently? More to the point, really, is how do you keep tabs on all those (often quite costly) things? Teachers, students, administrators, repairmen, countless volunteers and visitors who might accidentally – or, in worst cases, “accidentally” – walk out with one of your precious assets still in hand.

What an expensive bother!

What of the time take out of your staff’s days to perform end of and start of term audits to account for everything? All this on top of examinations and final marks or introductions and a return to habit? Is it any wonder teachers cheer right alongside their students for the year’s final bells?

A barcode management system could cause cheers for another reason entirely: Time saved, greater accuracy in tallies, and most important, accountability in borrowing equipment!

Let’s start with the basic question: Do you track your assets?  It’s all right: You can admit you don’t or, if you do, you use out-of-date methods. More than half of those asked admitted the same: Either they don’t bother to track or use an antiquated system like pen and paper or a spreadsheet. Of course, no all at stands out as the worst methodology, but how simple is it to miss a sign-out sheet? To accidentally overwrite a file? And what data might you find about these goods? Maybe when someone checked it out…a decade or so ago?

Instead, with proper asset management, you can scan a barcode affixed to the property update a centralised database that include details such as: Date of item’s purchase, purchase price, date of last maintenance session, last person to check out (and hopefully return) the item, its normal housing location, and the depreciation of its value over time.

A bit much to take it at once, isn’t it, that you can avoid scattered bits of paper with all this information and keep it together in a single, easily accessible computer?

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Why track your assets, though? For one, these tools are educational assets used to help shape the future of our nation and, much like those minds, educators find themselves responsible for the well-being of these objects! Given the increasing e-nature of education, many such assets come complete with quite the price tag. Prudence would safeguard them and keep careful watch over their depreciation and disposal over time!

You can include any grant monies allocated by the government, which would serve you well. Many government programs that help subsidise our educational programs require any item purchased with these grants be tracked and that detailed records with regards to maintenance and eventual disposal be maintained. Why not include your balance books in the database: Your starting sums, each deduction, and a running total of currently available funds, all within your asset list.

Smart Young Boy Works on a Laptop For His New Project in His Computer Science Class.

Let’s be honest, though. Asset management can be – and often is – easily overlooked despite the benefits it offers. Instead, it seems we choose instead to gravitate toward a more direct and obvious method, even when its perks can barely compare. It’s flaws, on the other hand, often shine in a poor light.

Manual entry, for instance, tends to be slow. The process itself can take hours, time your teachers could better spend on their students or their lessons. This is no one time event, either: Manual processes must be repeated time and again, with little to no reduction in time spent!

Confusion caused by the use of age-old spreadsheets can confound the process. To blame: Differing methods of entry among different operators, blurred lines and cross-eyed vision from line after line of text and blocks, and hours and hours of transcription from hand-scratched notes.

Did I mention how time-consuming, tedious, mind-numbing, and dreadfully dull manual processing can be? No? Well, it can, and that tedium can cause the mind to wander, which can lead to careless errors than needn’t be made in the first place.


Related Article: HOW ASSET MANAGEMENT CAN BENEFIT YOUR SCHOOL THIS YEAR

As for those errors: Can you confirm exactly who logged what into your spreadsheet? Do your users initial each entry – another time-wasting moment that, I must say in the name of full disclosure, an old employer of mind required? Can you pinpoint exactly when this misstep occurred? Did they press the wrong key? Read from the wrong source material? Can you say with confidence exactly what happened?

Luck and logic both say “No.”

Let’s move on, though to the benefits.

One such perk that comes from a management system is the ability to identify and remove pesky ghost assets from the roster. Those old desktop computers you donated to a youth center? Someone forgot to log that transaction, which might well explain why your last audit went a little sideways. The handful of bats that fell during a team trip and splintered down the middle? They remain in the equipment room but couldn’t exactly be considered a usable item any longer. An asset management system would make it a non-issue to located the unfound, unusable, or unwanted items from your database with a notation as to the reasons for their removal and their replacements. Best bet? Notate their removal as part of the replacements’ descriptions. Less confusion for the all-but blank entry.

As a timesaver, an asset management system will help slash your inventory tallies. Start of term or end of finals, a simple scan of a code could check a text in or out, just as in the library but on a grander scale. Class-issued electronics? Scanned and logged, seconds spent and on to the next matter: Lessons or vacations. Human error? The possibility becomes almost nil – almost, because accidents can still occur.

And, for the overseer in charge of footing the bill: Your ROI, what with the reduction in lost assets, save manhours, and accurate depreciation values, should become evident early in your relationship with your system.

Look around your campus: See all those assets in your classrooms? How could you better care for them and, most of all, better serve your students with the time saved?

Erin Myers
Erin Myers is the Content and Social Media Specialist for WASP Barcode Technologies. Her job is to oversee the company’s blogs and social media accounts.
Erin Myers
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