When is it Time for a Wall-to-Wall Inventory?
Do you ever doubt the accuracy of your inventory data? Are you concerned about missing large amounts of equipment? Are you running out of devices when your data says you have more?
You may be feeling that you could have the best inventory management tools in the world, but if you’re not putting clean data in, you won’t get clean data out; that’s why conducting physical inventory audits to establish baseline data and verify ongoing accuracy is so important.
Now more than ever, with learning devices issued out across the entire district it is essential to work with clean, accurate data leadership can be confident in. As the new year begins, it’s time to plan for physical inventories and ongoing audits to minimize loss and have oversight of your resources. It’s time to begin planning your inventory audit. Here’s why:
Give Staff Time to Help with Audits
Staff participation is key for successful and efficient audits. May and June are busy times of the year for staff and students as they prepare the close out the semester and school year, making it tough to squeeze in tasks involved with conducting a full inventory audit. Encouraging staff participation is essential and considering targeting your 1:1 computer devices can have a more timely positive impact.
Technology team staff members have first-hand knowledge of asset locations and usage than those unfamiliar with the building often lack. During a late fall audit, teachers are likely to have more time to pull out inventory in classrooms making it readily available for auditing. These strategies allow for thorough audits and fewer distractions for students.
Assets are More Likely to Be in Their Assigned Locations
From May through July, assets are likely to be in various locations due to remote or hybrid learning, construction projects, technology refresh initiatives, or building cleaning and maintenance. Many schools are thoroughly cleaned during the summer and everything is taken out of the classroom so floors can be waxed and walls can be painted. Audits are very challenging to perform when inventory is temporarily found in hallways and gyms, instead of their assigned locations. In late fall, equipment is more likely to be in the correct location for instruction.
Avoid Competing with End-of-Year Testing
Set up staff and students for success by considering student testing and assessments when scheduling audits. School districts that only conduct audits once a year often have more freedom when it comes to scheduling in the fall semester.
Alternatively, conducting audits in the spring of the academic year can mean more complex scheduling to keep from disruption during testing, one of the year’s most active times. Staff responsible for verifying equipment entering computer labs and classrooms during testing can risk distraction or security, ultimately damaging the students’ academic success.
Ideally, a physical inventory is conducted in a school building over a period of days, not months. So no matter the time of year, staff responsible for canvasing a building have the support of the principal and can move freely before and after school hours as needed.
Ensure an Easier Reconciliation Phase
With proper planning, completing the physical verification of equipment can be quick, but the reconciliation phase is where missing and misplaced exceptions will be handled based on asset details like type, funding source, and age. During reconciliation, you may want to speak with school staff and principals to track down missing or unscanned assets. Conducting these steps at the end of the academic year is difficult because teachers and other staff members will be busy trying to get everything in order for their students before the summer. The reconciliation team may be looking for take-home devices or an off-contract and unreachable employee who was responsible for a device’s location.
Increased Budget Accuracy
Budgeting and planning purchases while consulting equipment data you trust can be a game changer. While final budgets for the upcoming academic year are being completed in March and April, all your planning in the fall helped create more reliable expectations for refresh, replacement and reallocation. The reports generated from the asset audit will inform department heads and principles of asset availability, usage, age, and cost, so they know exactly what they need to purchase to keep assets working for the next school year.
What Success Looks Like for Districts Just Like Yours:
Words of Wisdom from Eastside Union SD and Chicago Public Schools
For Dr. Joshua Lightle, Superintendent at Eastside Union School District, conducting a physical inventory audit helped their decision making. By solely relying on purchase orders and estimations, the school district didn’t have the confidence they wanted in their data.
After conducting a physical inventory and importing clean data into their inventory management platform, Dr. Lightle and his team became confident in their decision making and budgeting because they knew what they had and what they needed to order more of, for both technology and instructional materials.
“It has allowed for much more informed decision making than we’ve ever had, even in the first few months of the audit,” says Dr. Lightle.
Chester Tindall of Chicago Public Schools also has some advice to add, “I want to stress how important it is to do a physical inventory at the schools. You never know when external or internal auditors will come out to your building, asking for records. If assets are being assigned to staff or students, make sure you do it in TIPWeb, so you have a record if assets are lost or stolen. TIPWeb-IT has made managing assets a lot easier for us; you have much more visibility, which has been helpful during the pandemic. We can see where shortages are and move devices accordingly to ensure students get the proper materials and devices.”
When to Consider Outsourcing Inventory
Gain Confidence in Your Data
Your team already has limited bandwidth. Conducting a physical inventory keeps being put on a back burner. The benefits of an independent, impartial inventory vendor can help create a baseline for future purchases and underlying losses are dealt with. Let us do the hard work for you. Free your team to spend time and energy doing what matters: enabling educators and students to teach and learn.
With Hayes’ physical inventory services, you can gain confidence in your school district’s inventory data and establish a baseline inventory of your assets and materials. Not only can you save your team the time and hassle of coordinating and executing a physical audit while also doing all their normal responsibilities, but your school district can integrate the most updated information into your inventory control platform.
Count on Your Savings
If you’re wondering just how much time implementing Physical Inventory Services can save you, check out our time savings and ROI calculator to determine if outsourcing your physical inventory is the right move for your district.
Learn More About the Inventory Experts
ProBar and Hayes Software Systems have been working together to provide a turnkey solution for school districts across the U.S. for almost a decade. With a streamlined process that bundles inventory services with inventory management software, school districts can establish a clean baseline and gain confidence in their inventory data.
Mike Moss of Probar has some additional advice on physical inventory, “The key to success is communication, communicating to the district on how to prepare, including guidance, scheduling, training, and documentation. Districts also vary on how they can perform and in manpower. So, we provide services where we can communicate directly, providing all information and documents to campuses and staff, taking the job of communication off the district’s plate.” Learn more about ProBar.
Don’t be left to count your own devices! Start fresh by planning your school district’s upcoming inventory today.