How to Setup and Manage School Inventory Management Systems
April 5, 2023
Are you still doing a manual inventory for all your school supplies and equipment?
It may be time to consider a school inventory management system so you and your staff can focus on more important work.
With 63% of high school students using digital tools at schools daily, inventories are getting more expensive and complex to handle. One of the biggest concerns across industries is shrinkage or disparities between the recorded inventory and the actual count of items. Common causes for inventory irregularities are theft, damaged and lost items, and administrative errors. Factor in the mishandling of digital tools and accidentally ordering items that are still well-stocked — and it’s easy to over or underspend on non-essential items.
This can gravely affect schools’ finances which are already facing challenging budget cuts. The only way to manage shrinkage and inventory with the least amount of waste is by using a school inventory management system.
Keep reading to learn how your school or school district can implement a school inventory management system and the benefits that you stand to gain.
Does Your School Need a School Inventory Management System?
If you’re facing issues with device damage, theft, or poor device handling and management, an inventory management system is the way to go.
A school inventory management system can help you manage your school’s resources and assets more efficiently by automating complex processes. But that’s not all, a school inventory management system also offers certain functionalities that simplify the jobs of your staff and educators. These include:
- Creating pre-planned schedules and helping with preparations before class starts
- Storing, analyzing, and evaluating students’ grades and class rankings
- Keeping track of students’ attendance
- Monitoring and locating borrowed assets faster with shared registry and tracking tags
- Assigning barcodes to smart devices and other supplies
- Coordinating administrative activities
- Planning device repair and maintenance to minimize device downtime
- Reporting and capturing devices’ status in real-time
- Performing inventory-related tasks remotely
- Getting instant performance reports for inventory items
- Tracking admission status and contact information
- Facilitating teacher-parent interactions with communication tools
- Managing fees
How To Create a School Inventory
A school inventory can take many forms depending on what they’re tracking.
Here are steps you can follow to create your own school inventory:
- Decide on the kind of inventory you need and its purpose.
- Note which departments will be using the inventory.
- Choose an appropriate inventory template.
- Enter identification for the items, their quantities, location, and other details.
What is an example of a school inventory?
If you’re wondering what items you can include as part of your school’s inventory, here are some suggestions:
- Audio-visual equipment
- Photographic equipment
- Portable digital boards
- Smart devices
- Blinds and curtains
- Exercise or sports equipment
- Solar panels and electrical equipment
- Digital licenses
How To Set up a School Inventory Management System
Setting up a reliable inventory management system requires putting good management practices in place.
Here are some steps to help you set one up:
Identify Your Goals
Identifying the purpose behind setting up a school inventory management system can help you use the software optimally. These goals can include:
- Tracking assets and their information
- Accessing information remotely and in real-time
- Reducing losses due to mishandling, theft, etc.
- Notifying and updating parents easily
- Improving accountability for borrowed items
Your goals will help you determine which system to use.
For example, if you want to focus on tracking assets more efficiently, you might want to consider software with features like barcode generation and real-time tracking. You’ll also need tracking equipment for scanning the barcodes and capturing details automatically.
If you want to reduce instances of theft, look for software that allows you to input when items were borrowed and returned, including the ability to add details about the borrower.
Once you have a list of goals, try narrowing down your top priorities. Make sure you calculate the cost of incorporating a system against the benefit you stand to gain from it.
For example, consider tracking high-priority assets using a software system and low-priority assets using manual solutions or spreadsheets by making a list of benefits vs costs to arrive at the right decision.
Your choice of inventory management solution also depends on whether you plan to use perpetual or physical inventory. Physical inventory refers to taking stock whenever you want to find out how many items you have on hand. Meanwhile, perpetual inventory refers to taking stock of items on hand along with their location.
Physical inventories are better for small lists of items where you don’t need to record their locations. But if you have a large inventory list of high-value items to track and you want to track their location, perpetual inventory is generally a better solution.
Organize Inventory Storage
Whether you’re managing classroom supplies or smart devices, you need a place to store the items when they’re not in use.
Identify a good location for your items that allows easy access. Then, create an organizational strategy to sort items into rows, columns, shelves, and aisles. Lastly, label every storage spot so any staff member can locate products easily.
There are plenty of ways to develop your organizational strategy. We suggest you prioritize organization based on your operations and goals. Here are some questions that’ll help you decide:
- How much and what type of storage space do you have?
- Which processes do you want to track the goods with?
- Do you have multiple locations from which you distribute or lend items to students/educators?
Nest Egg supports multi-location storage along with complex lending requirements. Whether you want to lend to students, teachers, or other organizations, Nest Egg makes it easy for you.
Even better, it also allows you to recover assets lent or lost due by the borrowers.
Find Suitable Inventory Management Software
Once you have a better idea of your goals and organizational requirements, you can move on to looking for school inventory management systems. Make sure you keep your goals in mind when considering software systems.
Here are some features to explore when looking through software solutions for managing school inventories:
- Asset tracking
- Communication tools
- Check-in and check-out system
- Barcode or QR code generation
- Stock/device status
- Reporting tools
- Multiple user support
- Integration support (for accounting systems, POS systems, mobile scanners, etc.)
- Purchasing records
- Low stock alerts
- Cloud-based support
The best choice is one which provides end-to-end support for all inventory-related tasks. Look for one that lets you input customizable product information and is accessible via smartphone apps and computers from multiple locations.
Your school inventory management software of choice will also help guide you in preparing a management policy.
Create Management Policies and Train Employees
After selecting a school inventory management system, your next step is to establish some rules and policies for asset management that everyone on your staff can follow.
Up to 75% of employees admit they’ve stolen at least once from their employers. These policies will help prevent theft at your school.
By establishing standard practices that everyone must adhere to when using your inventory management software.
While setting up a system takes some time and effort, it will reduce inconsistencies and frustrations in the future. Employees will also know what they’re supposed to do in case of issues.
Determine who’s going to update your inventory. This entails tracking changes in the inventory documents. You can also assign different login keys to each staff member so there’s greater accountability.
Do a Physical Inventory Count
The last step to setting up your school inventory management system involves importing all the data to the new system and performing a physical count of your inventory.
If you’ve been using spreadsheets to manage your inventory, you probably have your data recorded in Excel. In that case, all you have to do is perform a CSV import and bulk import all data into the new software system.
You can also try an alternate route and input data manually from your purchase receipts into the new software system. Then, add the remaining data as you perform a physical inventory count.
A solution like Nest Egg allows you to track purchases using vendor details, date, price, and quantity. The software also enables CSV imports so the transition is faster and easier. Using Nest Egg, you can input all the details of your inventory into the management software and compare your stock levels against your manual count. This way, you can confirm that your setup is successful and resume normal operations.
How To Operate a School Inventory Management System
Setting up a good school inventory management system for you school or school district is half the work. The other half involves managing it smoothly.
So how do you manage your school inventory?
Here are some tips to help you:
Use Multi-Campus Management System
Choose a software solution that helps you track multiple inventory sites (for sports, science lab, computer lab, etc.) from one platform.
Classify Inventory According to Different Categories
Divide your inventory list into categories such as technology equipment, office supplies, library resources, classroom furniture, etc. Assigning them into groups makes locating items faster and easier for every staff member.
Keep Thorough Records/Documents
From high-resolution images to notes, you want to include as many details as possible when checking in or checking out a high-value asset. If your assets are insured, make sure the school or school district has everything that the insurance provider needs when there is a claim. You may need to update the insurance policy to include new assets acquired from time to time.
Conduct Regular Inventory Counts
Periodically count inventory manually to confirm they match the numbers in the inventory management software. Conducting such checks helps you track and address inconsistencies promptly.
Track Purchase Order Receipts
Keep a record of receipts from purchases and vendor details so you can always reorder and keep track of your purchases.
Budget cuts are a heavy burden for not just the schools but also the staff and students. Most administrators resort to eliminating programs or reducing faculty positions, but you can also introduce improvements to inventory management.
With access to detailed records of purchases, you can more thoroughly prepare financial reports for previous and incoming academic years, minimize shrinkage, and make smarter decisions regarding your inventory based on accurate data.
Manage Barcode Asset Tracking
You want to choose a software system that allows you to manage barcode asset tracking with minimum manual input. Nest Egg is a smart solution for this.
With the Nest Egg app, you can easily start generating barcodes for items and store them on the system itself. All you need to do to track items is to scan the barcodes using an integrated scanner.
Back up Data
Always have backups of all your inventory data for emergencies so you can still hold classes and manage your inventory without delay. Make sure your operational plans in the case of a disaster are congruent with the overall disaster recovery plan for your school or school district.
Staff and Students Benefit Greatly from School Inventory Management Systems
School inventory management systems are great tools that benefit each member of your staff, including the students. Not only does it allow educators to run classes with less delay but it also lets staff finish inventory tasks faster and allows you to make better inventory-related decisions.
As long as you follow the steps in this guide, setting up an inventory management system for your school will be a breeze.
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