Inefficient Equipment Management: A Cautionary Tale for Schools
On the outskirts of Silicon Valley was an underfunded and overcrowded K-8 public school struggling to keep track of newly purchased laptops and tablets. Despite the presumed tech abundance in the area, for many of these students, the new devices were their first taste of the innovative technologies that have put their region on the map. And like many schools in the state, this one has stayed afloat by applying for grants and pinching every last penny of its budget. Needless to say, the school needed to make sure they could make these valuable assets last for the foreseeable future.
The Equipment Mismanagement Dilemma
The school attempted to track which devices had been distributed to a classroom or student using a paper-based log sheet but plainly put, that was not getting the job done. Students that took a device home for the weekend to complete a project were forgetting to log it on the sheets or return the device when it was due. Teachers that were borrowing classroom sets of iPads and accessories were letting other teachers borrow items without jotting down what items had changed hands. At the end of the week, administrators were pulling their hairs out trying to locate the assets and keep track of all the exchanges.
In a short period of time, the school’s equipment management process had cost them thousands of dollars in lost devices, and worst of all left their students empty-handed. During a staff meeting that semester, the group discussed how poorly their “system” was working and began looking for a comprehensive solution.
The Road to Efficiency and Accountability
One of the teachers took it upon herself to research online for a way to fix the school’s asset tracking problems while keeping their limited budget in mind. She was shocked to find out how inexpensive and efficient barcodes were for tracking equipment. Furthermore, she learned how barcode-based asset tracking systems were being used by schools in similar financial situations that were also adopting the use of hi-tech devices in the classroom. In her mind, signing up for a trial of the solution was a no-brainer, so she did just that.
She shared her research and demonstrated the school equipment management features to her colleagues at the next meeting. The room was intrigued. But as she expected, doubts over its viability emerged due to the school’s limited budget. That’s when she revealed her most meaningful finding– the amount of money needed to purchase a tracking system would be less than the cost to replace their missing IT equipment. She could prove that the school would receive a return on their investment, which was a big deal.
It’s for the Kids
After getting set up, the administration was finally at ease knowing that the location and possession of their laptops and tablets would be automatically tracked through barcode scanners. The staff was able to increase accountability by checking out devices to students with an assigned due date. Also, staff could checkout and exchange items knowing that a digital paper trail was being generated for them. In the end, the school became equipped to handle the addition of any new high-tech educational resources. And better yet, the students were the prime beneficiaries.