A liberal and visual arts college situated in Cambridge, Massachusetts, our customer, Lesley University is a proud alma mater to more than 90,000 students. The university was established in 1909 by Edith Lesley with the key objective of training teachers.Today, graduates from the university have taken on various roles such as mental health counselors, educators, expressive art therapists, social workers, and visual artists.
More than 5,000 students are currently enrolled across four colleges— a professionally focused liberal arts college, an independent college of arts and design, a graduate school of education and social sciences, and a threshold program for students with learning differences.
While growth is to be celebrated, it doesn’t come without its challenges.
Sandra Walker, Associate Vice President Special Operations, told us how assets and locations were difficult to manage at the university—and how EZOfficeInventory has helped her automate processes, increase efficiency, and ensure accurate record-keeping.
Outdated asset tracking: Missing items and records
Without an asset management system, Sandra was in a tough spot. There were several situations which led her to consider finding a better way to conduct operations. Here are some of the growing pains that Sandra was experiencing:
Manual record keeping
Before Sandra joined Facilities Operations, the Facilities Office was manually keeping a record of all classroom furniture and dorm room keys. There was no real-time, detailed written record of how many items were present in a classroom or how many keys were checked out at a certain time and to whom.
These small details were important, but unaccounted for.
Incomplete asset information
The little information that was available mainly came from employees from the Facilities Office. However, all of this valuable information was lost when employees left or shifted departments. It was also easy to forget certain details or lose critical pieces of information.
Lack of a central repository
”There was no quick way to track down assets”, says Sandra.
Since there was no central platform to store all the asset information, the team would have to visit the warehouses to check what items were present in stock.This resulted in a waste of time and effort, and this manual method was difficult to implement when assets were transferred between locations.
Sandra realized that there was a dire need for a solution.
Achieving transparency and higher visibility into campus operations
The hassle of managing assets and inventory was inconvenient , and Sandra wanted to find a way out—so she chose to switch asset management to EZOfficeInventory.
After the switch to EZOfficeInventory, operations became simpler and more efficient. All items were listed with a unique identification number, enabling smooth check-ins and checkouts.
“It’s cost saving too, to have a system in place. That way we can track everything that we have. It also helps us determine the value of an item— this way we can decide whether to repair or replace it by buying a new one”, says Sandra.
EZOfficeInventory made a significant impact in areas such as asset tracking and location management—leading to efficiency and loss control. Sandra gave a detailed overview of the problems faced and how EZOfficeInventory offered a solution.
Seamless management with the key inventory system
All key allocations were recorded manually according to student ID and room numbers. Not only was this practice outdated, but also required a lot of manual effort for every checkout.
Records often went missing and there was no easy or accurate way to keep track of missing keys. Here is how Sandra used EZOfficeInventory to develop a systematic key inventory system:
Unique identification numbers
With the help of the EZOfficeInventory team, Sandra was able to create an identification system for all the keys–each key had a unique identification number. Having such a system enabled Sandra to organize information and make it easily accessible. The student IDs, room number and key IDs were simply recorded in an Excel spreadsheet and imported into the EZOfficeInventory app.
Sandra could then easily check in and check out keys through the system.
By entering identification details within the app, the keys were checked in and checked out faster. All relevant information, such as the user ID, key ID, date, and time stamp was listed for each action, which made it easier to track ownership at all times.
Each key was entered in the system with a unique identifier. When that particular key was to be checked out, it only took a few minutes to allocate it to a student. Sandra would check in the keys at the end of the semester, clearly monitoring the ones not returned or misplaced.
Switching to EZOfficeInventory has automated the whole process of checking out keys to students and faculty, and checking them back in.
Sandra has also enabled Single-Sign Ons (SSO) for her team to avoid repeated logins every time an item needs to be booked. Due to all these factors there has been a significant cut down in the time and effort needed to checkout items:
“It basically takes a few minutes, which is far less time than keeping track on paper. I would say it has cut the management of it by at least 50%”, says Sandra.
To kick off the system, Sandra conducted a pilot program over the summer semester. With a total of 57 keys, it was found that 2 were not returned through the check-in/checkout history feature. Easily accessible data on missing keys equips the facilities office to track down lost items or arrange for replacement before the next semester begins.
Convenient location tracking for multiple campuses
Lesley University is divided into various campuses comprising different halls and rooms. With the manual system at Lesley, Sandra pointed out that it was getting difficult to keep track of keys every time a room was booked, as the rooms were dispersed across various campuses.
In order to address this problem, Sandra asked the EZOfficeInventory team to create locations in the app for all the campuses and associated rooms.
The locations include 5-6 main campuses with nested locations created for each. Having access to accurate item counts at each of the locations makes it easier to reserve items and check availability to avoid booking conflicts.
Sandra points out that EZOfficeInventory has helped them improve visibility by organizing information. It is easier to associate each campus with its own assets. The details page of each Location shows the availability and ownership of items, and Sandra can easily tell which items are available for use and which ones are booked.
The team can also simply view custodians in the EZOfficeInventory app to see who has reserved items and other activity pertaining to them. Ease of access to critical information has helped Sandra and her team with smooth bookings and checkouts.They can also easily track the locations of assets and manage assets in different locations from a centralized system.
Accurate reporting for inventory availability
With a high frequency of check-ins and checkouts, it becomes important to keep an accurate record of item availability around the campus. By using EZOfficeInventory, Lesley University was able to store and access all data related to keys and furniture centrally.
With all of this data, they could run in-depth reports that show details of activities for different rooms, halls and campuses. For example, recently, Sandra ran a report showing her different inventory items available at a particular location.
Apart from this, the facilities office can also run reports to determine the current value of the furniture. Real-time value reports enable admins to make informed decisions about the repair or replacement of assets. A relevant example here is the depreciation report for campus furniture and other amenities.
These reports can be pulled up at any time of the year to investigate the condition of classroom assets. Based on the data presented in reports, the facilities office can then decide to upgrade or replace university assets.
Moreover, Sandra has also customized reports to provide valid information for a specific time period, dorm rooms or even frequency of use. All this data can be presented to stakeholders to maintain ownership transparency.
The EZOfficeInventory experience and the way forward
“I have given several people access to EZOfficeInventory and none of them have come back with questions. They have been able to put in information and navigate the system as needed,” says Sandra
She emphasized that the transition to EZOfficeInventory has been a smooth one, without any roadblocks.
Any issues are instantly resolved by the team and they are willing to give extra time and help whenever needed. Moreover, Sandra appreciates that the support team is able to proactively anticipate issues before they arise and provide solutions to facilitate smooth workflows.
With the fall semester starting soon, Sandra is hopeful to use EZOfficeInventory for future projects:
“ If any other projects come up I’ll make sure to ask you if that is something you can help us with. I believe it’s something we are going to keep with us for a very long time”, says Sandra.