By Dr. Ramiro Zuniga
Technology inventory is a key part of district technology management but it is often neglected.
Two Reasons to Maintain Complete and Accurate Inventory
There are two great reasons to maintain your K-12 technology inventory; planning and theft reduction.
Planning -The most important reason for a complete and accurate inventory is planning. It is impossible to develop any technology initiative without this information.
- Equipment replacement cycles cannot be established without knowing the age of the equipment. Inventory data provides this.
- Student-to-device ratios cannot be determined without inventory data.
- Maintaining hardware standards is difficult without knowing what equipment is found across the district.
Theft Reduction - A second reason to maintain an accurate technology inventory is theft reduction. Knowledge that protocols are in place to not only record inventory but also hold individuals accountable spreads fast. Although all theft cannot be eliminated, solid inventory practices will serve as a deterrent.
So how does a school district lose control of their technology inventory? Usually it is through bad practices like those outlined below:
Four Bad Practices for Managing K-12 Technology Inventory
- Technology equipment is shipped directly to campuses or departments when purchased.
- Some districts rely on campus or department personnel to keep complete track of their inventory.
- A lack of mandatory inventory reconciliation.
- Transfer or disposal of equipment is not recorded.
Now that you know what not to do, here’s how you can keep better track of technology equipment.
Four Best Practices for Maintaining Accurate K-12 Technology Inventory
- Technology equipment should be shipped directly to a receiving center. Once received, the equipment purchase can then be verified for completeness and inventoried. It is only when verified and inventoried that the equipment is shipped to a campus or department.
- A signature should be obtained from the respective principal or director confirming the delivery of the technology equipment.
- At minimum, an annual reconciliation, managed by receiving center personnel (or Business Office) should be carried out. During this process, campus principals and department directors are held accountable for the inventory.
- Transfer or disposal of equipment should be documented and forwarded to the receiving center. Following that process the inventory can be adjusted accordingly.
How to Track District Equipment
Fortunately, there are many software solutions that a school district can use to track their inventory. In many cases, the business software that most districts use often comes with a fixed assets module. Typically, fixed asset tracking is carried out for items with a specific dollar value. Exceptions can be made to use this module to track all technology purchases regardless of value.
Third party software solutions can be purchased if the use of a fixed assets module is not desired.
Where to Begin?
If you are not sure where to begin, you can always call in some outside help. There are companies that will conduct inventory services. These companies can send in teams of individuals that will walk every building, classroom, and office and take a physical inventory for a school district. These companies will also provide the information in spreadsheets, databases, and various other formats as part of this process.
What ideas do you have for keeping track of your district’s technology?