By Anna Maxin
Automating your physical inventory processes utilizing an enterprise software solution can seem like a daunting task. Although we make the process as painless as possible (see our Services Experience Infographic), inventory automation can require a significant amount of initial work.
In order to guarantee success there are three key decisions to make before you kick off the project. It doesn’t matter if you are tracking instructional materials, like textbooks or teacher kits, or more costly technology resources such as computers, classroom equipment or student devices. We have found that automating inventory processes can often lead to road blocks that hinder a district’s ability to meet implementation schedules because they fail to make a few critical decisions early on.
1. Determine stakeholders for the projects team and designate a team lead
Put in place a project team that participates in the buying process from the beginning stages. All of the major stakeholders should be involved. This might include your district’s inventory specialist, textbook manager, curriculum director, purchasing agent, business manager, internal auditor, IT specialist and upper administration. The people in the trenches, managing the actual items you are interested in tracking, know what will and won’t work on a daily basis for your district and campuses. The IT specialists will outline the requirements the district has set in place for system standards and application interface, and upper administration is best suited to make sure the solution aligns with set business goals and the bottom line. Get everybody onboard and involved from the beginning. Once the team is assembled, you should designate a leader with the authority to make decisions and ensure that the system meets both district technical and business goals.
2. Decide why you want to automate and set clear goals
The most important, yet often overlooked, question is WHY? Why do you want to automate your inventory process? If you can’t identify compelling reasons it might not be time to implement an automation solution. The absolute worst answer is “just because.” While you may have a gut feeling that something needs to be done, you need to establish clear goals that automation will help you achieve. The exact goals will vary from district to district, but what is important is that these goals are identified, quantified, and that they guide the selection of a solution that is right for your district. Always, ALWAYS ask yourself if the decisions you will be making will lead to the completion of your goals.
3. Decide on a clear purchasing and evaluation plan
Once the team is assembled and your goals are crystal clear, set up a plan to both identify and document your needs to select the best vendors to approach for proposals and/or bids. Obviously, this plan needs to stem directly from your goals. The purchasing and evaluation plan should always include a time line for the following major tasks:
- Requirements development
- Procurement process
- Bidder selection process
- Bidder evaluation process
- Vendor award process
- Configuration and data conversion
This is your road map for the entire process, from vendor selection to post-implementation policies and procedures.
Check back later when we share 3 more key decisions you need to make before implementing inventory automation software. In the meantime, we invite you to set up a demo and see TIPWeb inventory automation software in action!