The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of technology is a well-known principle of technology investment for schools. Ensuring that the initial cost of technology and their maintenance cost over time are fully captured, smart districts have used the TCO principle to guide their technology procurement.
We can also find application for the TCO concept across most other categories of assets that districts invest in. By closely tracking those assets, the life of those assets, and how much maintenance each of those assets requires over time, school administrators can improve their management of other assets in addition to technology.
It’s not uncommon for districts to lose 3% to 5% in textbooks every year. It’s not uncommon for districts to lose 18% to 25% of their assets over a three-year period. A comprehensive asset management system provides districts the data they need to understand their total cost of ownership; buy what is needed, better utilize the resources they own, and repurpose or sell what remains.
Students often have a list of district assets assigned for their use and care: textbooks; technology devices; STEM equipment such as calculators, cameras, or lab equipment; musical instruments; band uniforms; and sports equipment. Thousands of dollars of district assets can be in the hands of an individual student. So, the ability to know at any given moment where the assets are and who is responsible for them is key to managing the district’s full investment or total cost of ownership in these assets.
An integrated management system provides district leaders the information they need to make appropriate inventory decisions as they manage the life cycle of each asset. Not only does this result in better cost management, but allows districts to plan asset maintenance or replacement more precisely and with greater accuracy.
Even though it is often the influx of mobile devices that is the triggering event for districts to improve accountability and management of fixed, digital, and instructional resources, the return on the investment can be significant. Better management of district resources not only saves money in the short term, but it can decrease the total cost of ownership for districts by extending the life of some assets and deterring unnecessary spending.
While it is true that the larger the district, the larger the savings, it’s also true that even small districts can benefit from more effective management of their resources and understanding that the TCO principle can be applied to all district assets.