MDM vs. Physical Asset Management: What’s the difference, and do I need both?

By Megan White

If you’re a district administrator or technology director, it’s likely that your school has recently increased the amount of mobile technology in your classrooms. It’s also likely that you’re anticipating and preparing for the addition of even more devices in the next several years. And undoubtedly, the challenge of tracking and managing those devices in a secure and efficient way is at the forefront of any instructional technology conversation.

These technological additions to your classrooms are one of the most important investments your district will make, so it’s important to ensure that it’s protected and managed correctly. So you do some research and purchase a mobile device management (MDM) system. All set, right? Wrong.

You think your investment is protected with MDM software alone; this simply isn’t the case. Read on to learn the differences between MDM systems and physical asset inventory management systems, and why it’s important to consider them both as you safeguard your district’s investment.

Many districts are utilizing mobile device management (MDM) software to manage the security protocol, applications and content on those mobile devices that are visible on the district network. But districts that assume they’ve covered all their bases solely through an MDM system are missing out on the important physical asset management side of the equation. We’ve seen a trend lately that districts mistake their MDM software as a total solution for tracking all their inventory.

While most MDM solutions will include a serial number in its device reporting, they won’t offer system access to site level staff who track the assignment of assets to students, staff, and rooms, allowing the district to have oversight of exactly how mobile devices are being utilized. MDM systems also don’t provide accountability procedures to be sure that each student or teacher knows that the device is on loan to them, and damages or loss are their responsibility. Districts are also concerned about inventory that isn’t MDM compatible. Assets like Career and Technology Education equipment, Special Education assistive devices, and capital assets don’t have an automated method for inventory control through MDM technology.

This is where physical asset inventory management systems come in. TIPWeb-IT, Hayes Software Systems’ school asset management software, uses barcode and RFID technology for physical inventory tracking. Effectively tracking the life-cycle of use of any asset in the district from purchase, transfer, assignment, and disposal and is intended to be used by frontline staff at the school building.

MDM and Physical Asset Management systems can be used in conjunction with each other, one managing the internal aspects of the device, and the other managing the physical asset. A system interface can be deployed to share data points unique to each system to provide a greater level of overall asset transparency for reporting and oversight. To learn more about Hayes Software Systems’ School Asset Management solution, TIPWeb-IT, click here.

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