MDM System vs. Physical Asset Management: What’s the difference, and do I need both?

If you are a district administrator or technology director, it’s very likely your school has recently increased the amount of mobile technology and take home devices. It is also likely you’re anticipating and preparing for the addition of even more devices in the next several years. Understanding and having confidence in your inventory data is crucial when planning how to invest in your instructional technology in the future.

These additional devices are one of the most important investments your district will make, and it’s essential they are protected and managed correctly. So you do some research and purchase a mobile device management (MDM) system. All set, right? Wrong. You think your investment is protected with MDM software alone; this simply is not the case. Read on to learn the differences between MDM systems and physical asset management solutions and why it is essential to consider using them together to safeguard your district’s investment. 

Districts should utilize mobile device management (MDM) software to manage the security protocol, applications, and content on those mobile devices visible on the district network. But districts that assume they have covered all their bases solely through an MDM system miss out on the critical physical asset management side of the equation. We have seen a trend lately that districts mistake their MDM software as a total solution for tracking all their inventory.

Consider these scenarios specific to K-12 education:  

  1. While most MDM solutions will include a serial number in their device reporting, they won’t offer system access to site-level staff.
  2. The site-level staff tracks the assignment of assets to students, staff, and rooms, allowing the district to have oversight of exactly how mobile devices are being utilized. Not only will the current assignment of devices be imported to document, but the historical use of the asset by building, room, or person (staff or student) ensures all assets are documented. 
  3. MDM systems also don’t provide accountability procedures to ensure that each student or teacher knows that the device is on loan, and damages or loss are accounted for and documented.
  4. Administrators also have to budget and justify refresh initiatives of these mobile devices and accessories, understanding age, funding source, and building allocation – where the MDM system provides little support to big picture planning.
  5. Districts are also concerned about inventory that isn’t MDM compatible. Assets like Career and Technology Education equipment, Special Education assistive devices, and capital assets don’t have an automated inventory control method through MDM technology.

This is where physical asset inventory management systems come in, like TIPWeb-ITTIPWebIT uses barcode and RFID technology for physical inventory tracking and can integrate data with common MDM’s like Google Admin and Jamf for free or Filewave, Lightspeed Systems, SCCM, and others for a fee. Effectively tracking any asset’s lifecycle from purchase, transfer, assignment, and disposal is intended to be used by frontline staff at the school building.

Technology departments use the TIPWeb-IT and MDM integration for seamless data access to dynamic device information stored in the MDM system. Schools can deploy a system interface to share data points unique to each system to provide greater overall asset transparency for reporting and oversight. To learn more about Hayes Software Systems’ School Asset Management solution, TIPWeb-IT, click here.

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