In recent years, the need for effective asset maintenance management for higher education has become increasingly clear. In the last year, colleges and universities throughout the world have needed to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and find new ways to manage their classes, staff, and assets. The major transition to online learning and remote classrooms has led to increased costs and significant planning time for many institutions. With undergraduate student enrollment in the U.S. projected to grow steadily and reach 17 million students by 2029, it’s crucial for schools to ensure they have the best systems and equipment in place to handle the demand.
In order to provide quality education, most schools are constantly acquiring new assets to help them provide a more comprehensive and connected learning experience. A major part of any campus or school facility program is asset maintenance management. Some of the benefits of an organized system include improved long-term planning, reduced equipment and upkeep costs, and improved visibility. In this post, we’ll explore five best practices that you should consider for your asset maintenance management program.
1. Create a Simplified Asset Checkout Process
Both instructors and students need access to a variety of school materials including books, computers, A/V equipment, and supplies. Setting up a simple and effective checkout process is the best way to track lent assets properly and efficiently. Understanding where your assets are and who has them makes it much easier to coordinate any maintenance work and reduces the likelihood of lost or stolen assets. A checkout process is also a reduced burden on teachers as they complete student orientation work when beginning new classes. Placing a dedicated facility barcode tag on each asset can further streamline your process and make it easier to log items in and out of the system.
2. Don’t Neglect Preventive Asset Maintenance
Even with a well-structured maintenance program for your institution, there is still a clear need for proper planning. Equipment breakdown and unexpected repairs can cost both time and money, creating an added burden for staff and budgets. Using a dedicated EAM or similar system will not only allow you to track your costs but will also provide a nice format for scheduling and tracking your maintenance activities.
It is also important to remember that preventive maintenance is just as important as other forms of equipment upkeep. A formal asset management program should include regular reporting, allowing staff and management to review recent data and determine if any improvements are needed. These reviews can also help ensure that essential assets and equipment are available for upcoming events and special projects.
3. Define Clear Asset Management Responsibilities
The average school or college campus will have many different types of assets to manage. These may include furniture, audio-visual systems, communications equipment such as telephones, computing equipment such as laptops, printers, and fax machines, and building and facility assets such as lighting and HVAC equipment. In order to coordinate work among your staff, IT team, and maintenance personnel, consider defining clear responsibilities for each role or department. Each asset will have unique maintenance needs based on its type, age, and level of usage. By defining these responsibilities and assigning work through an electronic system, it is possible for even a lean team to support a large number of assets.
4. Pay Attention to Digital Assets
A vast majority of educational material today is delivered digitally, including virtual classes, assignments, and schedules. Many students will also need access to various software platforms that may be managed by the institution itself. It is important to track any software license information within your asset management system.
These digital assets can often be overlooked, but there are potential cost savings that could be missed. For example, coordinating license renewals together as a larger quantity may qualify for an additional volume discount. Digital asset tracking can also help IT staff manage new software updates across the many staff and student computers that are attached to the network.
5. Apply Contingency Planning Best Practices
Maintenance can become a major priority after an event that disrupts school activities. This applies not only to natural disasters like floods or power outages but also completely unexpected circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic. Your maintenance plan should consider potential hazards and include appropriate responses. It is helpful to create an organized contingency planning team that can review various scenarios.
Transitions are hard enough during a normal school year but can become even more challenging when there are major disruptions. This occurred just last year as many educational institutions were forced to transition to a remote school environment practically overnight. Institutions that already had an organized asset maintenance management plan in place had the benefit of being able to coordinate their work activities in a more organized way.
Today’s schools must manage a variety of different digital, physical, and institutional assets. Following the best practices for asset maintenance management for higher education in this post can help prevent equipment failures and necessary replacements for lost items. An effective maintenance management program should be organized, transparent, and capable of handling planned and unplanned activities. With proper planning, including the use of durable facility asset management tags and asset management and maintenance software solutions, a school can reduce some administrative burden on their teachers and other staff so they can focus on their students and provide quality education.