The end of the school year is a significant time for the management as it usually marks the start of the annual inventory audit. Whether it’s just for a single classroom or the whole school, inventory audit is a time consuming process that requires a well thought out strategic plan. In order to minimize the risk of errors, schools should automate the audit process to avoid any major pitfalls that can undermine the accuracy of the entire practice.
An end of year school audit provides multiple benefits and helps institutions prepare for the next term by revisiting and revising key processes and their results. Regular audits enable schools achieve the following benefits:
Determine efficiency of internal controls: Inventory audits highlight the ability of the organization to keep financial records and track ownership. Major discrepancies in records is an indication of the need for a broad investigation to improve future processes.
Ensure compliance with regulatory practices: Good record keeping and verified documentation is necessary when it comes to regulatory compliance. Annual audits enable schools to identify any data discrepancies before they turn into major risks.
Identify potential cost savings: An audit helps highlight opportunities for potential cost savings through a complete analysis of school inventory, enabling administrators to find and get rid of idle inventory, as well as reducing storage costs.
How to prepare for your school audit?
A well planned audit will streamline your school’s operations, as well as helping you secure new funding and minimize the risk of data breaches. According to recent research, 10% of school faculty and staff indicated cost cutting and budgeting as a major challenge. For efficient use of funds, it is important to carefully prepare for the end of year school audit and ensure that all steps are taken to make it a successful practice. Here are some steps you can include in your school audit:
Establish a schedule
Having a schedule in place is a great way to get all the required information ready on time. While it is a good practice to have a schedule, it is best to leave some room for flexibility. Developing an audit timeline helps you focus on all aspects and highlight activities that require extra attention.
While making a schedule, take into account the level of automation involved in the entire audit process. For example, if manual inventory is required, then it is best to start earlier, whereas an automated inventory system makes it easier to register counts and takes less time.
One of the most significant steps of the audit process is to cross-check physical school inventory with the financial records. Having regular audits eliminates any discrepancies in the inventory count, making it easier to justify budget spends and forecast future procurement. To ensure accurate results, it is critical to opt for a suitable inventory reconciliation practice. Let’s take a look at two common methods to carry out a school audit for inventory:
Physical counts: Perhaps the most common and time consuming method, a physical count involves manually comparing actual school inventory with your records. It is helpful to carry a barcode scanner to speed up the process and more efficient results.
ABC analysis: As the name implies, this method requires grouping inventory according to value. For instance high value school inventory such as laptops and Chromebooks can be classified as one group. Mid value groups can include USB drives and chargers and low value groups can include wires and cables.
Evaluate audit results
After you have conducted the complete school inventory audit, the next step is to present and evaluate the results. When carrying out an analysis, it is best to have a benchmark for performance comparison. In this case, refer to the previous audits for your educational institution and compare it to the current audit. Doing so will help you understand the reasons for any large discrepancies.
The audit results can be a critical factor in assessing how well your overall educational KPIs are being met. These can include tracking loss of inventory, and adoption rates of new technologies by the students and teachers.
Formulate future strategies
The findings of an inventory audit can be used as a basis of future management decisions for your school. Through an audit you will be able to estimate the average inventory levels, lost or misplaced items, and assets checked out to students. Access to such information provides insight into ownership and utilization trends. This data can be useful to trace out causes for lost assets and help you devise measures to prevent such events in the future.
For example, if you see a stark difference in the inventory counts, then you can communicate the need to automate checkouts for both students and teachers. In order to reach out to all concerned faculty and student bodies, the results of the audit should be presented in as constructive a manner as possible. Visual graphs and tables can get the job done more effectively than simply presenting lists and numbers.
Tips for a successful audit
As per OMB requirements most academic institutions are required to submit audit reports in a timely manner. To avoid any major roadblocks during the audit process, schools should stick to a few best practices to achieve reliable results:
Define the audit objectives :The first rule of organizing audits for your educational institution is to understand the agenda or the end goals you want to achieve. If, for instance, you want to create a budget report to be presented to the stakeholders then plan out your audit with this goal in mind – start by getting in contact with the relevant auditors, follow the regulatory guidelines and present the results in an appropriate order to address the stakeholders’ concerns.
Prepare a checklist: To complete an audit on time, it is important to establish a checklist that can be shared with all the people involved—teachers, students, facility managers, and the IT department. A timeline with any planned downtime can be shared with all parties to help minimize impact on teaching. The checklist makes it easier to execute each task in order, without missing any important steps along the way.
Invest in technology : Manual inventory audits are quite time consuming and erroneous despite being widely accepted and used. An alternative to this method is to automate how schools record item usage. For example, an inventory management system enables teachers, students and staff members to sign in while checking out items. This practice helps maintain a traceable trail of actions for auditors to verify, increasing efficiency and accuracy of your records.
A school audit takes place annually and requires in-depth planning. To make it a success the management committee should try to learn from past experiences and make improvements where necessary. It can be very helpful to review last year’s suggestions and act on them. Conducting a post school audit review can help streamline results and highlight valuable findings.
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