By Jessica Zaleski
Making sure your district inventory management procedures are followed starts at the beginning of the year. The first few weeks of the school year are the perfect time to help your new inventory management employees understand your district’s culture and your expectations as a textbook coordinator.
To start the year off on the right foot, we recommend you take another look at your onboarding process. A comprehensive onboarding program for employees will ensure your inventory management procedures are understood and correctly carried out by those new to the role this year (or those who need a refresher!). Here are some ideas you might consider including that other textbook coordinators have successfully implemented in their districts:
1. Training Doesn’t End in August.
Offering trainings multiple times a year helps campus employees at Virginia Beach Public Schools stay compliant with inventory management policies and procedures. “At the beginning of the school year, we offer group trainings to all new users,” says April Hammock, Financial Assistant at the district. “We also offer refresher courses to old employees.” But she says you shouldn’t stop there. Along with a training at the beginning of the school year, Virginia Beach also conducts training sessions at the middle and end of the year for staff at the district’s 90 campuses. Additionally, in order to ensure schools are following policies and using their inventory management system properly, district staff will occasionally do random spot checks at campuses across the district.
2. Have One-on-One Time
Greg Wright, Instructional Materials Coordinator at Leander ISD, conducts a formal inventory management training at the beginning of the year, and also heads to each campus twice a year (once in October and once in February) to meet with new school staff members one-on-one. He uses this opportunity to see how they are using the district’s inventory management system and offer assistance if they are struggling with procedures. Even with 39 campuses in his district, he sees the value in heading to each school for that one-on-one time with his staff.
Brian Squyres, the Instructional Materials Coordinator at Northside ISD, also offers one-on-one training to new employees who may not be comfortable with the district’s inventory management processes after the first training. In those trainings, the staff member goes to Squyres’ office to go over their inventory management system together. Squyres also finds it helpful to only train employees at his district’s 117 campuses on what they need to know at the moment. At the beginning of the year, just show your employees where books are and how to distribute them, then toward the end of the year train them on the collection and audit processes.
3. Show Campuses the Value of Inventory
Hammock and her team show their schools the exact dollar amount of inventory they are responsible for to drive home the point that these materials add up to thousands of dollars. Similarly, when it comes to getting new employees to see the value in smart inventory management, some districts find that showing their campuses the loss numbers helps. “We will do a slide in our training presentation of year-to-year losses. We show them losses before we had an inventory management system and the losses now that are much lower,” says Squyres. “Then campuses can see what a big loss it is if they don’t take care of their inventory and use the system properly”
Creating a culture with certain expectations is key to successful inventory management. “We’ve got good people, and we’ve got processes to help them be successful,” says Wright. “Once you start breeding that success, it becomes the culture. No one wants to be the campus that has three times as many losses as the average campus.”
What helpful policies does your district include in its onboarding procedures? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!