5 Questions to Evaluate Your District’s Inventory Management Capabilities

By Anna Maxin

Transferring, assigning, auditing and budgeting for instructional initiatives is a district-wide, all building, all department challenge.  Think of a typical school day. Assets are moving from room to room, person to person, and even building to building – How do school and department inventory spreadsheets and district financial asset systems keep up?

Districts across the country are turning to new processes to manage their items to reduce the inefficiencies and costs of inventory operations. Many are finding the answer to their problems by implementing a perpetual inventory management methodology supported by building-level inventory automation software.

Not sure how perpetual inventory management would benefit your district? Below are five questions to help evaluate your district’s current operational capabilities.

1.      Are you using enrollment data to make instructional material purchasing decisions?

Knowing exactly what instructional materials are required across your district to be responsive to student needs is crucial for both student success, and accurate budgeting and forecasting. Having to collect inventory data and student enrollment information from separate system across the district makes these decisions progressively harder. A single, centralized system that gives access to what each campus owns, plus enrollment information, allows you to have confidence in your purchasing decisions.

2.       Are you struggling to account for mobile and non-capitalized assets with your current processes?

Mobile and non-capitalized assets (laptops, tablets, cameras, projectors, SPED equipment, etc.) are now common in school districts.  Fixed asset systems, while crucial for accounting operations, don’t meet the day-to-day movement needs of your overburdened campus staff. While these low value assets are an exception to your accounting rules, they are still critical to track, manage, and report on. Fulfill this need by giving your campuses a tool to facilitate the management of these devices while at the same time providing district oversight.

3.       Are you holding campuses, staff and students accountable for assigned assets?

Putting assets into the hands of students and staff brings about assumed risks for the district and an increased need for accountability.  When damages, lost items, and fines aren’t tracked, the district can succumb to increased monetary losses and bad community PR.  To ensure accountability, a district-wide inventory infrastructure for these initiatives mitigates risk by improving communication, reporting and accountability.

4.      Are you auditing asset location to maintain accurate campus inventory records?

Audits can be an operational nightmare for any district, yet without accurate data how can you trust the purchasing and budgeting decisions you’re making? An efficient process to verify the location and status of assets, in real-time, gives you the confidence in your data to make sound business decisions.

5.       Do you transfer unutilized textbooks to another campus?

A core principle to reduce spending is to ensure your district is utilizing what it already owns.  An efficient process for transferring instructional materials between campuses can reduce response times to get materials into the classroom faster. To maximize your efforts, ensure your instructional material inventory solution doesn’t force unnecessary processes that reduce staff efficiency.

If the benefit of these capabilities match the challenges your district faces, it might be time to take a closer look into a more robust perpetual inventory automation solution that is designed to address key operational pains of K-12 school districts.

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