By Morgane Le Marchand
Nick DePauw, Director of Information Technology at Patterson School District in northern California, knows the challenges of keeping inventory data clean. With 8 campuses, 3 district sites, and over 6,200 students, DePauw oversees over 14,000 assets in the district. In this guest blog post, he shares his tips for motivating district and campus staff to execute daily inventory management strategies in pursuit of clean data.
For K-12 district administrators, inventory may be the dirtiest word in the English language. At least it was for us. Some districts may relate to the idea of inventory processes based on praying that no one would ever request information, and when they did, praying that they would find the answer. In our district, that old way of thinking is gone. We have implemented TIPWeb-IT, an inventory management system backed by an intelligent and responsive support team. The centralized, cloud-based system has made inventory tracking and reporting into a simple process that enable us to work with our data instead of working for our data.
However magical a product is, good data management doesn’t simply happen by itself. Your district will need to have a big shift in how you process and handle inventory. You need to move away from the idea that it is only something you do once a year because the business department asked you for a report. Managing inventory needs to become a daily process for you and your team because at the end of the day, accurate data is the only data worth having.
Here are three ways that I support my team in making clean inventory management a daily habit.
1. Invest in tools that make it easier for your team.
It is critical to arm your team with the right tools for the job. Barcode tags and handheld scanners are a must. This makes the process of scanning inventory much quicker, and your staff is more likely to complete a task the easier it is. Encourage your staff to make a daily habit of scanning every device they work on. Realize that adding this process to your daily routine will take time but encourage your team to take the time and perform spot checks on inventory.
2. Keep your inventory data clean with limited access.
Clean data streamlines every aspect of inventory management, because your staff isn’t wasting time digging through outdated, irrelevant data. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised by the chaos that happens when too many hands get involved in a system. By limiting access of who can operate in your inventory management system, you’ll keep your data cleaner.
Appoint 2-3 district level personnel to manage the product and train them on how to add and maintain an inventory catalog. These team members need to be focused, organized, and detailed oriented. Entering purchasing data is crucial but time consuming. It can be done by clerical staff without worry about affecting other data, as you can set up their account with limited access.
3. Remind your team!
Your team has an overflowing plate of responsibilities so simply reminding them of their daily inventory management tasks can be helpful. And hold them accountable for it! Remind them that putting in a little effort today will save them hours of stress later. And, I encourage you to explain the “why”. Why does clean inventory data matter? Remind them that their daily inventory habits will ultimately save the district time, money, and resources. This is an incredible contribution they can make to the district by simply practicing daily inventory management habits.