Schools of all kinds must accurately track their assets to comply with the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) standards and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) standards in addition to being accountable to their stakeholders. As schools rely more heavily on funding and endowments from outside sources, they must manage and track their assets in a responsible manner to justify expenditures to those stakeholders. But, schools have so many assets that are spread across campuses, facilities, classrooms, and administrator, teacher, and student homes that it can be nearly impossible to track assets accurately. There are a few ways schools can improve their asset tracking practices, including
If schools are to learn anything from the Los Angeles Unified School District’s computer inventory debacle in 2014, when nearly $200,000 in devices had been stolen or were missing, it is that adopting asset tracking best practices is critical to avoiding errors and a costly loss of equipment.
School districts and other educational institutions that adopt asset tracking best practices and streamline and automate their processes pass audits with flying colors and track their assets much more easily than those that rely on tracking assets manually. Teachers and administrators also appreciate the amount of time saved in checking assets in and out when the process runs seamlessly with an asset tracking solution that utilizes barcodes and asset tags for accurate scanning.
If your school district or educational institution is relying on Excel or another manual process for tracking assets, you are costing employees hours spent updating individual assets’ records over their lifespan. Manual systems also are much more likely to involve confusion and errors that can result in lost, damaged, or stolen equipment before anyone realizes there is a problem. And, manual processes do not hold people as accountable as automated processes.
In fact, large school districts and higher educational institutions have an incredibly difficult time tracking their assets, much like the LA Unified School District. Colleges and universities often report losses in the tens of thousands to millions of dollars, and those losses can be minimized and virtually eliminated when institutions adopt asset tracking systems. Effective asset management technology solutions utilize barcode scanners to reduce the chances of human error and to keep real-time, accurate records in a database.
When schools begin a one-to-one technology initiative that involves loaning a laptop, tablet, or iPad to students, they run the risk of losing a great deal of money when assets become lost or damaged. IT professionals in educational institutions realize that the initiatives require extensive planning and lead the charge in implementing asset tracking systems prior to handing out devices to students. Managing the devices can become a full-time job for IT teams when their educational institutions do not invest in an asset tracking system.
Those that do implement asset tracking systems appreciate the time and cost savings they realize by automating asset tracking processes and knowing at any time who signs devices in and out, whether they are damaged, which parents have purchased insurance, and which have been lost. Many of these systems use barcode scanners linked to student and employee IDs and device serial numbers so there cannot be any question about who signed out a device. Some IT professionals in educational institutions prefer to invest in advanced asset tracking technologies that include reporting functions and give their entire team the ability to track and view device information in real-time.
Most schools have an IT team that can track their devices, but even those that do not understand the value of creating an asset management plan for all of their assets. Public school districts especially require an effective asset management program because assets are purchased with taxpayer dollars or grant money in most cases. And, many public schools have limited funds and need to maximize asset lifecycles as a result. The best way to ensure that assets are being tracked properly is to create an asset management plan.
Specifically, asset management plans for educational institutions take into account all assets, from HVAC systems, to buildings, to hardware. Because many schools do not have the money needed to purchases new assets to replace older ones, they rely on an asset management plan to determine which to repair and when. Asset management plans also entail preventive maintenance to keep assets in good shape for as long as possible. The best case scenario is to marry an asset management plan to an asset tracking system to have one complete record of all assets, their maintenance schedule, and their tracking information.
Schools must track their assets properly in order to comply with GASB and FASB standards and to be accountable to their stakeholders. To improve asset tracking practices and hold tight to the bottom line, educational institutions must streamline and automate asset tracking, work with their IT teams to track laptops and mobile devices, and create an asset management plan.
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