By Anna Maxin
As a district administrator, you know how difficult it is to keep accurate track of the technology assets being purchased and assigned to schools. Ideally, your department is able to track inventory information to demonstrate what you have, where it is located, and how old it is.
However, you know that your asset spreadsheet is only as accurate as the last time your staff updated it. Who knows if all the items are still in the same location and in a usable condition for the start of school? You scramble your staff to scour your buildings to find the required items using this out-of-date data, taking them away from their core responsibilities. The initial results indicate there was inventory newly identified you didn’t know about that had to be tagged and a high percentage of inventory that couldn’t be found.
The scenario above is all too common for K-12 school districts. Knowing precisely what you have and where inventory is being utilized will allow for more reliable reporting. It’s time to think of your technology asset information in a different way. Here are three simple questions to consider to reduce the headaches induced by bad data.
Versioning – Do you have a primary data system with building level and district access?
It isn’t efficient when the district office has to receive separate versions of asset spreadsheets for each school building. It’s a time consuming task to take disparate information, compile it, and reconcile it with your master spreadsheet, or fixed asset system. Creating a single version of your asset information that can efficiently be updated and reconciled will improve audit response times and data verification.
Variance – How accurate is your actual inventory versus your records?
Your technology asset records are only as accurate as the last time you visually verified that asset. Unfortunately, for most districts by the time an audit is complete and records are updated your asset information is already out of date. The accuracy and efficiency of your inventory audit is paramount for precise reporting. Make sure your audit process accounts for this and includes ways to reduce the time it takes for an audit to be completed while reducing opportunities for human error.
Visibility – Do you have a clear view of the life cycle of your technology assets?
Keeping track of mobile technology asset status, location, and purchase history provides the data transparency needed to make trustworthy decisions. Visibility allows for more accurate building usage assessment and budget forecasting to satisfy needs of district technology plans. This will impact your ability to provide students and staff with the right tools, exactly when they need it, to foster an effective learning environment.
While inventory audit processes aren’t something most school administrators look forward to, they are a very important step to managing instructional operations. Spreadsheet-based records can work for some smaller schools where the district level isn’t responsible for technology initiatives and oversight. However, decentralized, static spreadsheets do not scale to effectively meet the requirements of districts with perpetual inventory or financial asset management reporting needs.
Consider tools and processes that will help your district have centralized record access that can easily be updated (for example a building level asset management solution that provides the flexibility to scale with your district’s unique needs).