A digitalised and automated school inventory management system provides several transformational benefits, not least easing a teacher’s day-to-day operations. After all, the educational sector thrives on the use of its assets and the accuracy of its school inventory management.
In this article, we explore the key benefits of digitalising your inventory processes. As well as why good inventory management is essential for improving your entire schooling operations.
Why a Working School Inventory Management Is Important
Schools have hundreds, if not thousands, of assets. Including I.T. hardware, classroom furniture, teaching aids, and books. As well as consumables like stationery and cleaning equipment.
Large settings can have hundreds, if not thousands, of assets to track and manage. And, in current time, these can be expensive assets such as computers and tablets. With, 44% of schools are expected to have one tablet per child by 2020. This means there is also a lot of financial responsibility attached to the management of school inventory.
An inventory management system plays an essential part in your school’s asset management. By digitalising your school’s inventory tasks, you build the foundations to:
- Easily locate assets through a shared asset register
- Allow teachers and staff to check in and check out equipment
- Improve visibility with the use of asset tracking tags
- Plan for asset maintenance and downtime
As software solutions are becoming increasingly popular in educational settings, you may already be familiar with Asset Management Software. Inventory management is a module of this.
Additionally, a good inventory system allows you to make sure your assets are being used correctly. With the aim to extract the most efficient use from them before they’re disposed of.
It can also help to ensure your school’s finances are used as effectively as possible, which can be challenging for most school facilities. Especially since September 2020, when Ofsted inspections became more focused on finances.
5 Reasons to Digitalise Your School Inventory Management
1. Easily Know Where Your School’s Assets Are
Having a digital inventory system gives a bird’s eye view of all your equipment, resources, and infrastructure. During implementation, you’ll create a detailed register of all your school’s assets. Attached to each one is detailed information, such as:
- Site location
- Purchase costs
If you’re using spreadsheets or pen-and-paper to manage your inventory, you’ll appreciate how quick it is to pull up the necessary records of an asset electronically.
2. Reduce Loss of School Inventory
Asset theft is both expensive and disruptive to staff and student productivity. Although avoiding theft can be tough, a robust school inventory system can reduce the risk.
As an example, a Telford primary school had more than 20 laptops and tablets stolen, which led to a delay in the teaching of the school’s IT curriculum.
Inventory management tools feature built-in tracking technology. This allows you to assign assets with tags such as Barcodes and see a log of when the equipment was last used. Some tools also support integration with anti-theft labelling solutions. This gives you greater control over assets and reduces their chances of going missing.
Being able to show accountability for your assets will also help during audits. Allowing you to see if your school needs additional funding for more equipment.
3. Improve Inter-Departmental Communication
Multiple departments can make use of your school inventory system. This helps to make your asset management more streamlined. For instance, P.E. teachers can track sports equipment and supplies. Science staff can manage lab equipment and chemistry supplies. All in one shared system.
This results in fewer inaccuracies and allows you to oversee all procedures. Individual items with asset tags can also be assigned a department code for easy filtering and reporting
4. Easily Report on How Your School’s Inventory Is Being Used
An asset management system provides you with the features to monitor the asset life cycle. This allows you to analyse the performance of each of your assets. For instance, if your school has a large selection of laptops, you can see which ones are in use. As well as those that are out of action and those that need updating or servicing.
Having access to this data can impact future decision-making in terms of what equipment is needed. As well as what needs to be replaced.
5. Have Better Accessibility
Most inventory management systems operate through the use of cloud-based apps and mobile devices. This gives you the ability to log in whether you’re on the premises or off-site.
Greater flexibility means you’re not limited to managing inventory during school hours. This gives you access to the system at any time, from anywhere.
Consider the coronavirus pandemic for example. It led to schools closing, with a skeleton staff in place for those that remained open. By embracing technology, you can effectively check your school’s inventory and make provisions to secure new assets, even if you’re working from home.
What Is Needed to Build a Successful Inventory Management System
When choosing Asset Management Software, there are several features and capabilities available. But, when creating a dedicated school inventory management system, there are eight key features that you need to explore:
- Asset Tracking: The ability to track individual items or groups of items with asset tags and labels.
- Stock Status Summary: This allows you to get a complete picture of your inventory.
- Low Stock-Alerts: Notifications that remind you to reorder/replace items when necessary.
- Purchasing Records: So you can record inventory transactions and keep audit trails.
- Check-In/Check-Out System: To manage requests from staff and students for borrowing equipment.
- Multiple User Support: So you can have different logins for key members of staff and department heads.
- Reporting Tools: To provide standard or customised asset reports when needed.
- Support for Integrations: The ability to tie in with accounting tools or other functions relating to your asset management.
Though EdTech is on the rise to help improve student learning outcomes, many schools are lagging in the tech department when it comes to school inventory management.
The government has already identified that technology can drive change in areas like administration, as set out in its strategy document; Realising the Potential of Technology in Education.
If you currently use a manual inventory system in your school, there are several ways that digitalisation can enhance your operations.
The right software can lead to better organisation and give you greater visibility of all educational assets. It gives you a better understanding of which teachers and students have access to specific equipment and resources. As well as more control in terms of allocating resources across departments.
A digital school inventory system is usually cloud-based, accessible from anywhere, and with support for multiple users. This enables you to streamline inventory management both on and off the school premises.
Finally, it allows you to utilise assets properly and provides you with accurate reporting capabilities. This is critical at times of auditing, and to support the leadership team with strategic decision-making.