An arsenal of assets: why use an asset management provider?

What are the benefits of using the expertise of an asset management provider? We find out why the subject needs to be taken seriously by SBMs – and explore some of the dramatic cost and efficiency savings involved

Forget me not

No matter how fantastic we may judge our powers of recall to be it’s amazing the number of times forgetfulness raises its ugly head. Whether an email sent without an attachment or a misplaced set of keys, it seems there will always be something that upsets our best laid plans. Similarly, if you’re trying to keep on top of an ever-expanding asset portfolio using old recording and auditing techniques your chances of remembering everything are slim indeed. A friendly neighbour will probably be able to help when a spare key is needed but a notepad containing auditing numbers accidentally consigned to the office bin is another matter entirely. “It’s easy for a SBM to forget that a three-year photocopier contract, for example, will automatically renew three months before the original contract is set to end so, if you haven’t cancelled it three months before, it will continue for another year or, in a worst case scenario, another three years,” says Tim Roots, director, Parago.

 Saving a fortune

There are many different software solutions and mobile apps available to support all aspects of asset management, from accounting programs to touch screen asset-tracking technology, so there is plenty to think about when attempting to gauge value for money. ICT assets are an obvious priority for SBMs – and there are lots of them – with fixed, mobile, hard and soft assets across computer networks, estates and school locations, all eminently stealable. “The simplest and cheapest method to protect assets from theft is barcode tracking. If schools perform daily verifications then the system can identify when an asset was last seen and in which class room. Staff can then check to see who was in that room on the day and keep an eye on recurring patterns – assets going missing from the same locations, same people in the rooms on those days, and so on,” says Nicola Byers, marketing manager at Real Asset Management.

Imagine having an overview of those assets that are approaching the end of their useful lives – a school is then able to make informed decisions on what assets they can afford to replace and those that will have to wait

A set budget is advisable when considering an entirely new computerised asset management system or the integration of a new software package; suppliers who offer installation and support services will charge for their handy work so it’s important that SBMs shop around. “Price is dependent on the size of school and time on the job. We could be in the smallest prep school for a day and in the largest of independent schools for four weeks,” says Tim. Financial savings will tend to be higher for schools which have a history of monitoring their inventory diligently. “Asset software search functions can be used to query specific assets prior to purchasing new equipment or materials. If surplus assets can be redeployed that represents an obvious saving to the school,” says Adam Watson, director at Every Education. “A further benefit is in effective renewals and replacements. Imagine having an overview of those assets that are approaching the end of their useful lives – a school is then able to make informed decisions on what assets they can afford to replace and those that will have to wait.”

This is an abstract of an article that appeared in the November issue of Education Executive, written by Tim Martin

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