Operating under Harvard University Information Technology (HUIT), their Walk-in IT Support Center comprises a team of technicians that provide IT assistive services to the university community. The Center shares the larger HUIT mission to help faculty, students, and staff use information technology effectively across their teaching, research, learning, and work.
With a staff of up to 25 people at peak operations, the Support Center provides IT repair services, manages inventory, and loans out IT equipment to students.
From spreadsheets to automation: The Support Center turns to EZOfficeInventory for efficiency
Lillian Delgado, the current manager of the Support Center is an avid user of the EZOfficeInventory application. The team was originally using spreadsheets and Google Docs to track department equipment and tools. Data logged into multiple and static databases meant that the Center was not able to get real-time visibility into the movement of their inventory. As a result, they were losing and misplacing tools. In addition, when technicians could not find the tools they needed to get the job done, they had to purchase new ones.
This situation became a major challenge. As the cost of replacing lost equipment started adding up, the Center decided to look for a solution. During the search for a software that would centralize information and allow them to gain complete visibility, they did a trial with EZOfficeInventory and found it to be a great fit for their requirements.
Now, the Center uses EZOfficeInventory to track everything from repair tools such as screwdrivers, suction cups for screen repairs, and static mats, to loaner equipment including laptops and tablets as well as single-use items like printer toners.
Significant cost savings due to fewer lost items
Moving to a centralized system where they could manage all their tools and equipment in real-time was a significant efficiency booster for the Center. Lillian and team found it extremely useful to upload photos of their items and add detailed descriptions for more visibility.
“We loved it,” explains Lillian. “We could see who has the item and when it is supposed to be checked back in and follow up with that person to make sure that it gets back into our storage.”
Enhanced oversight and accountability meant fewer items were lost/misplaced. They also optimized procurement by not buying equipment they already had. This led to significant cost savings for the department.
Because it worked so well with the tools, they diversified the use and started tracking toner supplies for printers used at university housing as well.
Enhanced accountability with access control
The Center follows a unique workflow where loaner IT equipment is not checked out directly to students. Instead, it is checked out to a technician who then provides it to the requesting student. They use this workflow because their technicians are added as Members in the system while the student body is too large to be included. By making loaning an internal function, the Center is easily able to track equipment.
The Support Center has also assigned User Roles based on their workflow needs. For instance, the Account Owner and Administrators are able to take actions while people with a Staff role can only view relevant information.
Conflict free scheduling with the Availability Calendar
Lillian and team use the Availability Calendar to get quick updates on item movement. Since they keep all their tools in the system, it is extremely helpful to get a real-time view of item status.
“We use it to see what’s due and what’s out,” explains Lillian. “This is great for scheduling since everything is visible to the whole team and that leads to more streamlined scheduling.”
The visibility has also enhanced employee accountability.
“If a laptop comes back damaged and I can see who checked it out last, I can follow up with that person,” says Lillian.
This is possible because the system provides a complete log of item history including information such as who checked it out and on what date.
Accurate stock management via Custom Reports and Alerts
The Support Center runs regular Custom Reports including a weekly one to verify the toners in their stock. They pull up a report to check the supply closet to verify that the color and black and white toners on the list were physically present.
Along with verifying, EZOfficeInventory has also helped them optimize stock levels via system generated Alerts. They can easily set a low stock threshold and if stock quantity goes below that threshold, they receive an Alert.
“It has helped us optimize stock levels so we are not buying too much and never running too low,” explains Lillian.
Agile operations with the mobile app
The mobile app has been extremely helpful for the Center’s daily operations. Lillian explains that they are a very active office therefore items are being checked in and out frequently.
Some of the physical inventory is held at a different location from the walk-up desk and it is very inconvenient to go back and forth between two locations with a laptop or keep mental notes. The ability to check items in and out via a mobile phone or tablet has been a game-changer for them.
“We need to do all this in real-time and having the mobility to do this with the cell phone and the tablets has been really helpful,” says Lillian.
The future with EZOfficeInventory
Lillian and her team are planning to use more EZOfficeInventory functionality to further enhance their operations. They are looking forward to implementing QR code scanning and have already purchased the required scanners. Furthermore, Lillian is planning to customize the Dashboard for useful metrics such as Asset Utilization so she can make informed business decisions.
According to Lillian, looking at metrics such as Asset Utilization will provide useful insights. For example, old tools that are not being checked out by technicians can be retired and replaced with new items.
While she and her team find the system intuitive and easy to use, they know the extremely responsive EZOfficeInventory support team will make things easier by promptly troubleshooting or answering questions.
Lillian expects to expand the use of EZOfficeInventory in the future and would highly recommend it to other departments within the university.
“It helps to reduce the stress,” she concludes. “Before the system, there were a lot of unknowns and now we are a lot more confident about where our tools are.”