Organizations big and small invest significant capital and time in the procurement and maintenance of their assets. Hence, it becomes critical to continuously track their location and status to safeguard against loss of asset and malfunctioning during operation.
Maintaining the efficiency and fault-free operations of any organization requires a robust asset tracking system. This is undoubtedly true for schools. Educational institutions possess an enormous repository of a wide variety of assets and equipment. There are books, stationery, tables and desks, lab equipment, cleaning tools, cafeteria equipment, and a variety of staff records and database that need to be maintained. The school environment is extremely dynamic and significantly more prone to chaos than other organizations. Schools are more susceptible to equipment loss and theft than any other type of organization.
Some stats about equipment loss at schools
An old 2007 study indicated that back then schools lost around $80,000 worth of assets and equipment every year. Post 2010 the figures rose to millions of dollars. In a survey conducted in 2013 at the Shelby County School in Tennessee revealed that about $48 million worth of assets was reported missing. There were more than 54,000 assets such as computers, training cars, tools and other equipment. Another audit conducted in 2010 revealed that a school in Los Angeles had more than $10 million worth of textbook assets missing. More than $500,000 worth of the missing books were found in a local warehouse.
The education sector has witnessed an enormous drop in their funding since the Great Recession. Most of the K-12 schools today are operating on lower funding than they were before the financial crisis. According to a study conducting by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities states that more than 35 states have spent less on school funding in 2013-14 when compared to the post-recession years. The figures have not improved over the course of years.
Such a shrinking budget and rising workload on schools call for smooth fault-free operation of every process. For school administrators and managers, tracking and monitoring so many assets manually can be a daunting task. Today there are modern tracking and scanning technologies available such as barcodes, QR codes, cloud database and GPS that has streamlined the process of equipment tracking.
Challenges faced by schools in managing their assets
The challenges faced in school are mainly caused by the sheer number of assets and the presence of children. Supervision is not always possible in such an environment where assets are incredibly likely to get abused. Be it mischievous students or thieving staff, managing assets in schools can be a daunting task. Some of the common challenges faced by schools in their asset tracking department are mentioned below
- Constant vigilance is tough- Monitoring the activities of the children and ensuring the safety of assets can be a difficult task especially in large schools. Additionally, there is always the possibility of the school staff engaging in theft of property and assets. With the absence of advanced tracking and monitoring capabilities like GPS tracking and barcode scanning, protecting such a sheer number of assets in this dynamic environment can be difficult.
- Paper resources and textbooks are easily damaged- Textbooks are the most prominent asset that goes missing from schools every year. Due to their perishable nature, even if certain tracking features are implemented, they can easily tamper. This makes them a perfect candidate for theft.
- School mergers and district transfers- Schools are often subjected to mergers and shutdowns. School assets are often transferred across districts. During such major changes, there is a serious addition or loss of equipment. Most manual methods of asset tracking have extremely poor scalability thus making it incredibly difficult to manage such changes.
- The short lifespan of assets- Equipment such as computers, laboratory tools, and other hardware often become obsolete with the emergence of better products in the market. Added to this there times when there are significant changes made in the syllabus which calls for mass disposal of old textbooks.
Employ barcoding and minimize asset loss
Schools today can employ the services of professional asset racking services who employ advanced technologies like cloud database, barcodes, and QR codes. GoCodes is one such equipment tracking service provider whose products apply to a wide range of industries including school and education.
Barcodes are an extremely cost-effective and simple way of tracking assets. They are especially effective at schools due to their long-lasting nature and ease of deployment. With the GoCodes software one doesn’t even need expensive scanning equipment as it allows scanning via smartphones. Added to this, GPS tracking capabilities can be integrated into the codes by sending the location of the scanning tool. Some of the key areas where barcodes can be implemented are mentioned below
- School libraries- The school library is the biggest repository of books within the facilities. It faces regular and continuous traffic of assets and calls for quick and secure check-in/check-out procedures. Barcodes can be easily stuck on the back of a book or along the spine. The school authorities can also choose to customize the information stored in barcodes and classify their books accordingly. Barcoding can streamline the management of most of the paper resources in a school. All the librarian needs to do is pass the book through a scanner and register it accordingly.
- Barcoding of tables and desks- Physical assets such as tables, desks, and cafeteria equipment among others provide the perfect opportunity for barcoding. Barcodes can be securely attached to the surface of the asset and can be made tamper proof.
- Tracking laboratory equipment and computers- Laboratory and digital assets need tracking of their location as well as their current status. There are times when computers need to be repaired or replaced, and lab resources need to be refilled. By employing barcodes on the body of the equipment or around the vicinity, both the location and the status can be monitored. Simply by scanning the barcode, all the information regarding the equipment and its history can be made available on a smartphone.