At Dallas Independent School District, textbook inventory processes used to be decentralized and outdated. When the district was threatened with a lawsuit, the newly hired Manager of Textbook Services knew it was time the district rethink inventory management practices. The lack of sufficient administrative tools to maintain inventory oversight resulted in an unreliable audit each year. Because campuses didn’t have visibility into inventory records, they did not trust the numbers the district provided them that often showed significant losses.
TIPWeb-IM software was adopted to support Dallas ISD’s need for accurate inventory oversight at the district and school levels and to ensure all students and teachers have the instructional materials they need for academic success.
Prior to implementing TIPWeb-IM, the Dallas ISD textbook management department was struggling to use a DOS-based system from the ‘90s to track title quantities across their 224 schools. Without better alternatives available to them, schools simply maintained their inventory on a spreadsheet or used pen and paper. Schools also lacked an established policy guide for the audit and inventory processes, which is necessary to maintain accurate title counts to account for lost, worn, and stolen inventory.
When Matt Tyner was hired by the district as the new Manager of Textbook Services, his number one priority was changing the way schools manage their inventory. A single school had just recorded a $300,000 inventory loss over a 10-year period, and to make matters worse, an attorney contacted the district threatening a lawsuit for the delay students experienced receiving their required textbooks. It was clear Dallas ISD needed to quickly find a solution to address their inventory challenges.
Mr. Tyner had the full support of administration to evaluate policy and procedures designed to support as well as hold schools accountable for doing their part to ensure student access to instructional resources. Finding a way for schools to eliminate the time spent manually entering inventory owned and issued to students and staff into spreadsheets was a high priority. The district level ordering processes for new books had room for advancement as well, taking advantage of technology to automate the handwritten information sent to vendors.
The district identified a software system designed to track textbook assets and report, in real-time, data for the entire organization, including the warehouse. In TIPWeb-IM, Dallas ISD found a solution that allowed for easy location and transfer of items from the warehouse to campus, and from campus to campus without the need to scan individual item barcodes – completely different from traditional asset or library systems.
Throughout the implementation, the textbook services team adopted the words “trust” and “transparency” as symbols for the improvements being made in the district. District leadership entrusted the principals at each of their campuses to ensure accurate inventory data by adding textbook accountability expectations to the principal’s evaluation. “We let our principals be the kings of their castle, while also making them responsible for it,” said Mr. Tyner.
School leaders are happy to report that there has been a significant decrease in staff time spent on taking inventory even as oversight expectations have increased. “We found that processes that used to take several minutes are now taking less than 30 seconds,” said Mr. Tyner. “Multiply those time savings over the thousands of materials staff are responsible for managing, and the result is more time available to spend focused on student academic success.”
And what about those textbook orders that were hand written? They are now completely electronically created and reportable through a central catalog with TIPWeb-IM. Mr. Tyner reports that everyone is much happier with the new system. The district has the same amount of staff members as before, and they are able to do all of the inventory processes much more efficiently. His staff is now also able to focus on other important initiatives, like tracking digital licenses.
Changes in the district have also benefited the bottom line. Because schools are no longer mistakenly ordering items they have siting in their inventory, the district recognized a savings of $960,000 on planned replacement purchases. “We’re no longer guessing on our orders, which helps us ensure we have the right materials for our students and teachers when they need them,” said Mr. Tyner.