By Jessica Zaleski
Welcome to part one of a six part series about inventory system integration trends! There are opportunities to increase the accuracy of inventory information accessible by district- and school-level staff simply by interfacing systems like your purchasing, fixed asset, systems management, help desk, cash management, and network management that may all hold valuable asset data. In this installment, we’ll talk about how your help desk system and inventory management system can be valuable complements to each other and help reduce manual data entry and increase information transparency across your assets.
It’s not uncommon for us to discuss with school districts the differences between a help desk system and an inventory management system. A lot of districts are struggling to use their help desk tool to perform inventory control tasks, but they fall short when it comes to recording purchase history, tracking life cycle details, and offering audit capabilities, to name a few critical inventory needs for budgeting, planning, and daily management.
But an inventory management system isn’t your answer to your ticketing goals either. Yes, a repair tech could use the asset statuses of an inventory management system to log work details, but inventory control software isn’t really designed for ticket creation by staff or students, scheduling, tracking work hours or parts used for repair, which is where a strong help desk system can be invaluable.
Make the Two Systems Work Together
A good help desk system and a good school inventory management system can be valuable complements to each other. The two systems can work together to reduce duplicate data entry and provide consolidated reporting. A strong asset inventory management program will be able to accept records from a district’s help desk system to give a real-time view of where inventory is and its current status. Having these two systems interface means that repair technicians don’t have to manually enter the device’s status and ticket information into both systems (which leads to more inaccurate data and happier staff).
Increased User Accountability
A help desk system is a great tool for managing and tasking a district’s IT support team. The team wants to ensure technology equipment is working properly, and not hidden away in a closet broken and unused. But, that system alone will not be able to hold students and staff accountable for any issued devices or damage caused to items assigned to them. A good inventory management system will also integrate with the district’s student information system to speed up the assignment of devices to students and staff, assign charges/fees, and collect payments.
Supporting Campuses and Principals
When it comes to supporting principals and campuses, traditional help desks aid the principal in ensuring clear communication of equipment availability and usefulness. If a device has an issue, the principal can see what the problem is, when it was logged, how it happened, and how responsive the support team was.
With a comprehensive inventory management system, principals get a complete overview of every device assigned to their school. So along with the device’s status, they can see how old it is, where it’s located, how it was funded, when it was last audited, and identify where others just like it are in their school. That data can then be used to make sure the school has what it needs to operate properly and to better plan for future needs.
Saving Time, Money, and Resources
Using a help desk system as the only means of inventory management doesn’t offer a district the data transparency users need. Keeping the help desk system up to date with every asset purchased in the district is a challenge without automation and proper processes in place. If a projector is reported broken and there is an inventory system working with the help desk, the repair technician will know what kind it is, when it was purchased, and can be better prepared to diagnose a solution. The more information technicians have about assets, the faster assets can be repaired.
The two systems together also give district administrators a comprehensive view of assets. They are able to see how many times certain device models have been in repair and for how long. If many items of a certain model have needed repair, the administrator could conclude that they have a “bad batch” or that device isn’t going to meet the demands of a school environment. This information could inform them that buying the additional warranty on these items would be worth it. On the other hand, if the district did buy the warranty, they can see if the items needed enough repairs for the warranty to be worth the money.