IT physical assets at colleges and universities such as laptops, monitors, tech equipment, and everything in between help to support higher education development and funding. Assets ensure the quality of the education and the overall experience, resulting in a competitive advantage to attract students and donors. Therefore, creating a sustainable program to track assets' inventory, maintenance, and depreciation should be treated as a critical business necessity for colleges and universities.
IT Asset Management 101
IT asset management (ITAM), specifically hardware, physical, and fixed asset management, manages tangible items in all stages of their lifecycle, from the procurement stage to the final retirement stage. Physical assets like servers, tablets, and 3-D printers require a management process to ensure that the university or college makes the most out of their investments.
There are many ways that an efficiently run asset management program can benefit a college or university. For example:
1. Budget allocation
Better budget allocation and reporting can be determined per department by accurately tracking asset depreciation, upcoming warranty expirations, and the lifecycle status of inventoried items.
2. Enable flexibility
Universities may wish to pursue more secure data centers which require relocation of assets, or as they grow, classroom locations may shift, and facilities may open and close. In modern universities and colleges, students, facilities, and even where learning takes place are constantly on the move. Therefore, an asset management program must enable flexibility with tools to accurately audit and track every item.
3. Provide holistic visibility
An asset management program that integrates with in-house applications, such as help desk tickets, budget management systems, and other applications, provides the university or college the visibility it needs to make informed business decisions.
4. Deter theft, misappropriation, and cyber attacks
Unauthorized usage of IT equipment, theft, and fraudulent purchases are a risk for any business or organization with high-value assets, including higher education campuses. An ITAM program is a preventative measure that can create a system of checks and balances that assigns accountability, enables real-time inventory access, reports on system updates and warranty dates, and can effectively mitigate theft and misappropriation. With IT asset management, your college or university can mitigate situations like stolen equipment, fraudulent purchases, and cyber security threats.
How IT assets are tracked
Common ways to track your IT assets as part of an ITAM program include barcodes (or QR codes) and RFID tags. When affixed to the physical assets, the barcodes and tags provide a simple and convenient way to scan the hardware and instantly record the location and borrower of the item. Some asset management tracking systems also provide visibility into the inventory of like items, maintenance records, and servicing or reordering details.
Scanning an item, often through an app, saves time by streamlining all aspects of the physical inventory process. Asset managers can simply scan, edit, and update the statuses of assets anywhere on campus. This process improves university asset utilization and management more efficiently while also saving manpower and minimizing losses.
From computers and routers to printers, and scanners, no physical asset is off-limits to tagging. Barcode labels offer an affordable and effective solution to real-time tracking and inventory audits. However, barcodes can fade over time, and scanners require a line of sight and must "see" each barcode one at a time to capture the data. RFID tags use radio waves to transmit information from RFID tags to an RFID reader. An RFID reader can scan multiple tags at once and does not require line of sight visibility. If your university or college has assets that are hard to reach, fragile, or shouldn't be handled, highly mobile, or highly valuable, an RFID tag may be the best choice.
Benefits of IT Asset Management for Colleges and Universities
To establish governance guidelines
For many higher education facilities, assets are often jointly managed by different departments. For example, a smartboard in a science lab could be managed by the science department, the technology department, and the finance department, all with a different role in the management, upkeep, and replacing the asset. As a result, when an asset needs to be replaced or serviced, there may be confusion on service order responsibilities.
An IT asset management program requires governance guidelines and permission levels. In addition, setting up the program requires the asset manager to look at current inventory management processes and create improvements. Our team at Asset Vue can work with your campus asset manager to define and create user roles and permission levels, as well as provide recommendations for process improvements and automation opportunities that are unobtrusive to your current operations.
To validate accurate reporting
Asset tagging with RFID or barcodes increases inventory audit efficiency and reduces the risk of inaccuracies due to human error. With a simple scan, your team has the power to make updates on the spot and instantly get the most accurate and up-to-date information. The asset management database serves as a single source of truth that can guide resource allocation, theft recovery, and service agreements. In addition, your faculty now has access to real-time inventory to better plan their educational programs with the resources on hand.
Asset management programs eliminate the dependence on spreadsheets and manual updates. Your finance department can create accurate projections with validated data that no longer rely on manually inputted data. Audits can be automated that eliminate the risk of human error and incorrect calculations, freeing up time that's better spent elsewhere.
To save time and resources
A robust IT asset management program can consolidate tools and eliminate the manual labor behind audits and inventory tracking. Our experience in creating time-saving solutions for higher education organizations has resulted in reduced labor costs and a boost in productivity. Time is no longer spent on tasks such as manually tracking down assets, locating service agreements, or fixing spreadsheet calculations.
An ITAM program with tagging can be up and running within a few days and immediately provide your team with real-time information. Tasks that would take days to implement prior to an asset management program can now be completed instantly. In addition, backlogs of pending projects can be eliminated with computer automation powering your inventory management process.
The availability of well-maintained physical assets plays a significant role in the students' success, the sustainability of educational programs, and the attractiveness of campus amenities. More than just computers and printers, higher education facilities are now investing in high-tech resources, modern furniture, state-of-the-art lab instruments, and top-of-the-line sports equipment to attract the world's best and brightest. Asset management ensures your facility gets the most out of these investments.
An ITAM program can go a long way in supporting the ROI goals of your assets, minimizing financial risks, and maximizing your staff's time and resources. At Asset Vue, our experts work with your administrative team to find the ITAM solution that best fits your needs and budget, ranging from simple barcode tracking to fully automated RFID tracking with real-time alerts as assets move. Give us a call so we can discuss your current operations, and see how we can help solve your challenges.