As technology evolves, inventory
management is more important than ever
In the early days of asset management,
districts often pieced together
inventories with Excel spreadsheets
that had been handed down from
generations for whom the most
complicated pieces of equipment
were 3M overhead projectors. As
time and technology marched on and
equipment inventories grew, those
Excel spreadsheets quickly got
out of hand. Once your district
is ready to take that next step
to a more robust inventory
management system, where
do you start?
The ideal management solution will allow inventory
data to be collapsed into a single system that tracks
equipment by purchase, serial number, warranty date,
and job. It also will allow you to create customizable
asset reports. Here are some basic steps to take as
you begin the journey to purchasing an equipment
1 Define your process and understand your
database. The tool you select will be the backbone
of your inventory management system. Learn how the
system works and complete a needs analysis of your own
environment. Ultimately, what do you—the end user—
want to get out of it?
2 Define your roles in this process. Who is your
purchaser? Who is your receiver? Who is the person
that makes the bottom-line decisions about how your
district will manage any changes? If your procedure
must change, who propagates that information to
your team and ensures that standards are followed?
Consensus is very important so that information stays
3 Know your equipment. At minimum, have
someone on your team who knows the equipment
before you enter it in your database.
4 Create a solid naming convention and data entry
procedure. Construct a data dictionary to eliminate
redundancy. Know how you want to enter items into
your system from the beginning. It will save you a lot of
time in the end.
5 Documentation and control, control, control. AV
management must begin with control. The system
cannot work if too many keys are made available for your
storage space. This has less to do with security than with
how equipment can be innocently misplaced.
6 Analyze how many people must be involved to
do your management efficiently. Less is always
better—it ensures control—but having additional eyes to
double-check your work and serve as back-up is always
good. You definitely don’t want to take that week-long
vacation to Bora Bora and discover that your whole
system has shut down while you were gone. A week of
mistakes can turn into a year-long nightmare.
AV inventory management can be a bear. It’s a
burden that very few staff members volunteer to take on.
But whether or not you have one person managing a few
schools, or several managing a whole district, you can’t
go wrong by following the steps laid out above.
Mary K. McDaniel is a member of the Academic
Technology Support division of the Office of Information
Technology at CU Boulder.