Robust asset management is considered a best practice, whichever sector you operate in. It is equally important in schools that house various Assets of different sizes and kinds across different locations.
Assets in the education sector are prone to continuous changes due to purchases, movements, and disposal during an academic term. Therefore, it is crucial to keep track of these variations.
As mentioned earlier, it is not just the quantity but the variety of items that educational institutes have to contend with. The diversity of Educational Assets requires a well-grounded asset management system that monitors the entire Asset portfolio of a school.
Technology is taking the academic world by storm. According to the Harris Poll, 86% of teachers believe that it is absolutely essential to use ed-tech in classrooms for improved learning outcomes. Schools are therefore investing in high-ticket IT equipment that needs continuous monitoring.
With learning methods being revolutionized, it also makes sense to upgrade the way you track your Assets. As your infrastructure and Asset base expands, Asset management can get more cumbersome if you do not have a proper mechanism in place for it.
Why do you need school asset management?
Lack of good education asset management practices can lead to the following problems:
- Misplaced supplies and unwanted replacements: Poor asset management means schools fail to keep track of misplaced supplies and have to fork into unwanted replacements.
- Excessive HVAC costs: With no system to track Asset usage, HVAC facilities are often left switched on even after school hours. This bleeds into high operating and service costs for the HVAC Assets.
- Inefficient service tracking: School supplies that are used on a daily basis require more frequent maintenance. Without an asset management system in place, tracking various service events can be grueling.
- Poor interdepartmental communication: Without a centralized asset management system, teachers cannot notify the administration about faulty class equipment.
Schools can avoid these roadblocks in asset management by deploying a rock solid Asset tracking software. It not only helps boost their productivity but irons out their daily tasks.
Pick the right software to manage your education assets
You can’t just go ahead and pick any Asset tracking software that is out there in the market. It is important to consider the current management and operating structure of your educational institute first. You must outline your workflows and decide on how you plan to improve them.
You also need to prioritize which goals you want to accomplish with an Asset tracking software.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind before purchasing and implementing an Asset tracking software for your institute.
1. Keep relevant stakeholders in the loop
A school has various stakeholders, ranging from teachers to lab attendants, caretakers and the board of trustees. Whichever mechanism you select for Asset tracking, it needs to be communicated with and approved by the relevant Users.
You also need to consider the training needs of your employees and pick software that is easy to use and requires minimum effort for training.
2. Outline your departmental information needs
Often times, your employees are bombarded with information they do not need. To overcome this, you should define the workflows in your institute and segregate Asset information by a department’s needs.
For instance, your repair team only needs information on Assets that are faulty or need replacement. It does not require an exhaustive procurement list for Assets needed in the Fall academic term.
For this reason, you need to pick software that groups Assets by their departments and usage. This not only saves your employees time while they scurry around looking for relevant data but keeps them focused on their tasks.
3. Prioritize data security
Since Asset information is used by many departments in an educational institute, it is important to ensure the security of your data. You can make a list of certain Department Heads and give them the entire access to their departmental data.
These Heads or Supervisors may then delegate authority of data usage to employees that work under them. Thus, you need an Asset tracking software system that allows Department Heads to approve which Asset information is accessible to whom.
This prevents data breaches and misuse of key Asset information in fraudulent activities. Once you are familiar with your Asset management needs, you can pick the right software and use it to maximize the productivity of your teams and make the best use of your Education Assets.
Four main types of school assets
You can only manage your Assets successfully if you know which category they fall in and the kind of supervision they require. Schools use a raft of items as part of their Inventory, to cater to different departments.
Therefore, to make Asset management easier, it is recommended to divide your Education Assets into four main categories.
- IT Assets: These consist of electronic hardware devices such as tablets, printers, laptops, and projectors. They are normally assigned to classrooms by Users.
- School transport: Each school has its own fleet of school vans and minibusses depending on the size of its staff and transport needs. You must monitor the routes and maintenance requirements of your school transport to make sure it works at its optimum.
- Inventory: This includes all stationery, cleaning supplies, sports equipment, and other consumables that need frequent restocking.
- Soft assets: Teachers and Admins often use different software to work on different projects and follow-up on assignments. These comprise the soft Assets used in a school.
How to use school asset management software in your daily workflows?
Once you have decided on an Asset management system for your Education Assets, you need to develop a strategy on how to make the best use of it. The way you leverage features of school asset management software can really make or break your financial returns and employee productivity.
Here’s how you can employ the different features of an education asset management system in your daily operations to boost your ROIs.
1. Create item labels to improve Asset visibility
If you intend to track all Education Assets within your school, the best way is to opt for Asset tagging. You can choose among barcodes, QR codes or RFID tags to label and track your Asset items.
A smart asset management system allows you to design and print customized labels so you can include relevant Asset data, for instance, Asset Name and Location to display on the labels.
A group of laptops, speakers, and printers reserved for the IT department will have the location of an IT lab printed on their labels. Every class has IT Assets designated to it for use during the lectures.
To clarify which class each Asset belongs to, you can add the classroom number and course code on the item labels. Including Asset information of your choice to display on the item labels improve Asset visibility.
Scanning of item labels greatly speeds up the check-in and checkout process and helps you keep a record of where each Asset is and what is it being used for. This way, you can readily spot any instances of theft and misplacement and pull down the need for unnecessary Asset replacements.
2. Generate automated Purchase Orders for timely restocking
Ensuring that lectures run smoothly every day is essential. This can get demanding if you do not have an optimum stock of classroom inventory at hand. If a class runs out of stationery consumables like board markers or chalks, this can disrupt the entire lecture and distract students.
Most educational institutes struggle to maintain a balance between over and under stocking their Inventory levels. Extra Inventory simply occupies more space and ties up financial resources. A shortage of Inventory, on the contrary, may lead to disrupted workflows.
Therefore, it is important to have a proactive procurement system in place that replenishes your Inventory levels in time. School asset management system comes saddled with a Purchase Order module. It automatically alerts your vendors when Inventory levels fall below a specified minimum threshold. Your consumables are restocked before they run out and you can ensure that lectures go on without a hitch.
3. Schedule maintenance events for seamless classroom activities
Safety of students and faculty should be one of the topmost priorities of an educational institute. It is imperative to minimize any instances of high-risk breakdowns that may disrupt class activities or cause serious injuries.
To ensure the safety and smooth operations, you should keep an eye out for these 3 major types of Asset failures:
- Routine breakdowns: These happen more frequently and require reactive maintenance such as a broken chair. The equipment either needs to be restored to its original state or replaced.
- Emergency breakdowns: These breakdowns need prompt attention due to the risks associated with the malfunctioned equipment. For instance, a broken gas pipe in the laboratory vicinity needs an immediate fix before further damage occurs.
- Incidental/high-risk breakdowns: These result from natural disasters. They have high risk associated with them and may cause damage to schools. They need to be dealt with instantaneously.
You cannot control natural disasters and the downtime caused by them. However, you can schedule preventive maintenance sessions to reduce chances of routine breakdowns.
School asset management software automatically checks in Education Assets for service after specified time intervals. This helps you increase the operational longevity of your Assets. It also ensures friction-less class activities and makes your campus a safer place for students and faculty.
A dedicated school asset management system also allows you to send email alerts to relevant faculty and staff members in case a piece of equipment breaks down or is undergoing repair. This helps them either reschedule their activities or request for functioning Assets and saves them time.
4. Pre-plan lectures by reserving Assets timely
Even though a school has a stack of different Assets, poor asset management may leave you without the required tools during class hours. This seriously jeopardizes the productivity of your faculty and puts your classes behind schedule. A simple solution is to pre-plan your classroom activities and reserve Assets for each lecture beforehand.
Let’s say, a fitness instructor wants to organize a weekly gym session for his students. To make this happen, you need to book the school gym and requisite equipment in advance. Education Asset software enables you to make conflict-free reservations of Assets before classes take place.
It also comes with an availability calendar to show when certain Education Assets are available for use in different classrooms.
5. Bundle together class packages for higher efficiency
Often times, schools have more than one section for each course. These require the same set of Education Assets. A smart way to go about organizing for different sections of the same course is to group Assets together in a bundle. Each Bundle can then be checked out to a section.
School asset management systems also feature a Bundles Add On so you can group similar Assets and check them out together. You may even customize the Bundles according to your teachers’ specifications.
Let’s say, an instructor in the Arts and Crafts class only needs the painting equipment to be checked out to her. You can bunch together watercolors, stencils, pencils, drawing papers and palettes and check them out to her. This helps eliminate duplicate workflows. You no longer have to check out individual Assets but can check them out all at once.
Best practices and guidelines
Utilizing the basic features of school asset management software does not get the entire job done. You need to take your education asset management a step further by incorporating some best practices. These best practices should aim at increasing a school’s ROI and raising its operational efficiency.
It is recommended to take stock of the following practices when you are running a school asset management system.
1. Prepare a maintenance checklist
Education Assets are used continuously and face frequent breakdown instances. To ensure they run at their optimum and have a longer useful life, you need to account for how frequently your Assets need servicing.
It helps dramatically to draft maintenance timelines for each of the items so your Assets undergo regular repair and stick around longer.
2. Conduct regular audits of your education assets
Almost every department and staff member in an educational institute makes use of the IT hardware and software Assets. This exposes a lot of sensitive academic and administrative data to the risk of security breaches.
To comply with the privacy and security standards, a school can use its education asset management software to run regular audits of these Assets. You can verify Asset ownership and renew license subscription of your soft Assets to avoid hefty legal costs.
3. Train your staff
Using advanced software to manage your Assets does no good if your team does not know how to use the Assets in the first place. Be it, faculty, administrative or support staff, it is important to train them on how to effectively use the Assets assigned to them.
Your employees must also be taught some basic software knowledge so they know what system they are contending with. Fundamental know-how of Assets is pivotal to employee productivity and Asset utilization.
Education asset management must be data-driven in today’s age
The multitude and variety of school Assets demand a rock-solid asset management system. However, as technology takes new ground in the education sector, it is important to make your asset management more data-driven.
Student preferences, course requirements, and enrollment figures change rapidly today. To cater to these changes, it is recommended to pick a software that enables you to run an in-depth analysis of Asset usage across different courses.
This way, you can procure and sort Assets for each course before instructors request for them. With a well-grounded asset management system in place, you can stay on top of your Assets, achieve higher education standards and be a market leader in the education sector.
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