Why K-12s Today Need Inventory Control Software
With 76.6 million children projected to be in school in 2017, the education sector must develop better infrastructure and management to ensure that standards of education are met. Among the many challenges facing the education sector, a lack of resources is a major cause of concern. In fact, according to the International Study Centre at Boston College around 63% of students are affected by resource shortages in science alone. At the same time schools have reported equipment losses of more than 48.4 million. Given these statistics it is imperative that educational institutions adopt better strategies to manage their assets and inventory and reduce losses. Automating the asset and inventory management systems of schools can save costs and prevent resource shortages from interfering in the classroom. This article highlights key areas where an efficient inventory control software can help schools manage their inventory, reduce interruptions to student learning and provide better learning environments.
Providing the Basics
Among the multitude of responsibilities shouldered by school administrations, managing classroom infrastructure and supplies is particularly important. Schools must ensure that classrooms are properly furnished and the needed stationery is available to teachers and students. This is crucial to ensuring that the lack of basic facilities is not an impediment to education. However, keeping track of such supplies is a difficult task. Too often schools fall short on supplies and have little idea of how and when their inventory is used. Precious class time is often wasted when teachers need to run for basic stationery like board markers and paper.
On the other hand, inventory control software lets you label all your items and track them through scanning. This allows schools to accurately log and track items present in classrooms. Thereby enabling schools to not only properly allocate resources but also ensure that assigned resources are regularly maintained and don’t run out. However, in the event of such shortages teachers can easily log into the software and make item requests. These check-out requests can then be followed up by administrative personnel. This simple automation can save time and increase productivity for teachers and students alike. Additionally, the school administration can use the inventory system to track stock levels of items and ensure that the school never runs low on stationery and necessary supplies. Reports inside the software provide accurate logs of when and how items were consumed. These reports can help schools pinpoint resource wastage and demand, leading to more cost-effective inventory procurement decisions.
Managing IT Equipment
Technology has been an essential for educational institutions for some time now. What started as a small computer lab has now become an institution that depends heavily on multimedia, laptops and even tablets to aid the educational process. Managing the procurement, usage and maintenance of such equipment is a tough job. Learning environments are often hampered by faulty hardware, outdated software and missing IT equipment. Schools accept such occurrences as the natural order of things. However, inventory control software challenges such assumptions and allows IT personnel to stay on top of their IT equipment and its maintenance. Alerts from the inventory management system send reminders to relevant personnel when items require attention for example when maintenance is due or a software license is expiring. Additionally, schools must regularly maintain their items in order to ensure that equipment breakdowns do not occur. With inventory control software you can not only track the maintenance needs of these items but also track the supplies needed for this maintenance. This way you can easily perform regular maintenance and also have spare parts handy in case of unexpected equipment breakdowns.
Planning Events and Classroom Activities
Co-curricular and academic activities that aim to enhance student learning through interactive forums are a necessary part of the school system. From the regular morning assemblies to the more occasional parents’ day – teachers have to constantly run through inventory to locate supplies. These supplies sometimes reside in the most obscure places as they may be long forgotten for the better part of the year. Additionally, with the increased trend towards hands-on-learning and learning-by-doing, teachers must be able to easily plan for more practical activities. Gathering supplies is one major obstacle that discourages teachers from creating more exploration based learning environments. However, inventory management systems empower teachers with an easy way to plan for and procure the resources they need to successfully incorporate more practical activities in the classroom.
Inventory control software makes it easier to regularly plan the usage of such items and ensure their safe return. The cart management system of the software allows you to save carts filled with frequently needed items for events. So for example, if you have a field trip to plan for you can just add the relevant cart and check out/reserve all the items needed in one go. Additionally, locating these items in the actual storage area is a breeze as the location of each item is saved within the system. To ensure that inventory items needed for such events are always available the software can send out automatic alerts to users whenever stock levels go below a certain threshold. Relevant personnel can then go ahead and replenish the inventory stock.
Lowering Costs and Minimizing Losses
Educational institutions have a number of both consumable and non-consumable items like furniture, stationery, art supplies, books, laptops, and projectors, as well as items tied to specific functions such as cafeteria, and lab equipment. It is important here to distinguish between the difference in the management of consumable items (i.e. inventory) and non-consumable items (i.e. assets). With inventory items we track the stock levels of items at different locations within an organization and can set threshold alerts depending on the quantity of inventory item we want at those locations. Assets, on the other hand, generally include items that are reused within an organization like laptops, projectors and sports equipment. A robust inventory control solution should be able to track both these items.
Inventory control software accurately tracks the vast amount of inventory and assets within educational institutions. Alerts generated by the inventory control software allow for timely procurement that prevents schools from over/under purchasing. Custom alerts on expiration dates of perishable items also help in ensuring that items are not wasted. Reports generated by the software provide data on consumption and usage patterns that may be used to flag up any unusual consumption activities. At the same time keeping checks on the state, ownership and location of assets reduces incidents of theft and misplacement thereby saving costs. Additionally, preventive maintenance strategies supported by the software also reduce incidents of equipment breakdown which often entail high repair/replacement costs.
Educational institutions are flooded with assets and inventory items that are used on a daily basis. Much of the equipment is checked out of storage and moved between departments and classrooms by teachers and students alike. Effectively managing the allocation of such resources, their usage, maintenance and procurement is an arduous task that can be simplified by inventory control software. Given the nature of asset usage in educational institutions, it is very common for schools to lose track of their inventory consumption. This is why it is important to have a centralized solution of inventory management that can delegate responsibilities to different users and allow for better educational environments.
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