Conducting a school inventory audit is far different from conducting an SMB or enterprise audit.
School schedules are on a completely different timeline than the standard fiscal year. This means that your inventory audits need to be conducted at entirely different times.
The big problem here is that there’s never an ideal time to audit your school’s inventory. Between the start of the school year, final exams, summertime activities, and more—you should plan your audit procedures to account for all of these.
Here is a quick rundown of the best times to conduct an asset inventory audit in your district. But first, let’s get clear on what the auditing process is for:
The Auditing Process
An inventory audit helps school districts cross-check their financial records against their inventory records. This allows school leadership to uncover any discrepancies in their physical inventory count, make inventory item forecasting easier, and plan the future maintenance of district assets.
School administrators should begin the auditing process by analyzing historical inventory data. This could include:
- Average inventory levels
- Number of lost/broken devices
- Assets currently in storage
- Number of devices assigned to school faculty and students
By analyzing the historical data, K-12 schools can set expectations of what their inventory audit data will look like for the current school year. School leadership can use this information to ensure that they’ve conducted a successful audit and that none of their district assets have gone unaccounted for.
Now that you’ve got a solid understanding of the auditing process, here are some of the best times to conduct an inventory audit during the school year.
Third Place: End of Year
Coming in third place: the end of the school year.
At first, it seems like it makes the most sense to audit your inventory at the end of the year, but there are plenty of reasons to choose another time instead. The end of the school year is often too busy to successfully conduct a thorough audit of your district’s mobile assets.
Suppose you decide to conduct an inventory audit after final exams and before summer break. If that’s the case, your teachers/support staff will likely still be too busy wrapping up grades and paperwork before students are released. Trying to follow up with busy teachers can put unnecessary pressure on your auditing timeline, resulting in inaccurate inventory counts.
However, there is a major benefit to conducting your inventory audit at the end of the year. Conducting your audit right before summer break makes it easy to hold students accountable for their school-assigned devices. Your school IT department can send out reminders to student emails that device collections are coming up and that all student devices must be accounted for.
Planning your audit around the same time you collect student devices ensures that students will have their devices at the ready when it’s time to audit your asset inventory.
Second Place: Spring Break
Spring break is another good time to conduct your school inventory audit—but there are a few drawbacks.
Even several months before summer break, the spring is an awkward season to conduct a full-blown inventory audit. Students and faculty are coming back from the holidays and are trying to focus on finishing out the rest of the year strong.
This is also when most K-12 teachers begin preparing for final exams and wrapping up their lesson plans. Because school inventory audits rely heavily on cooperation from teachers, finding a convenient time for them is essential.
The biggest upside to conducting an audit in the spring is that it’s a great time to check up on the status of your district assets. Because you’re halfway through the school year, there is an increased likelihood that several students have either misplaced or damaged their assigned school laptops. The spring gives IT teams a great opportunity to catch the issues early on before summer break, and final exams take over everyone’s schedules.
Best Time Overall: Before Winter Break
The month and a half leading up to winter break are hands down the best time to complete your district’s inventory audit—typically around late October to mid-November.
You can avoid scheduling conflicts with year-end activities like final exams by scheduling your audit at the end of the first semester. This will also give you more time to forecast inventory and plan your school budget accordingly before budgeting time in March/April.
The fall school semester is also when school assets like computers and laptops have been freshly dispersed among teachers and students.
How does this make a difference exactly? That’s because it’s easier to reconcile original inventory numbers at the beginning of the school year. If your district is using asset management software you can track school equipment that is currently checked-out, equipment that’s in storage, and you can categorize your school assets into categories such as location, asset type, funding source, etc. These data points will be the most accurate at the beginning of the year when school devices have recently been deployed.
The time before winter break is usually quiet enough for teachers and school faculty to assist in the auditing process. Using their mobile phone or web cam, teachers can scan the asset labels printed on their homeroom students’ laptops.
Empowering your teachers with barcode scanning technology allows them to distribute the inventory auditing workload, significantly reducing the pressure on your IT team.
Auditing Throughout The School Year
The times listed above all have their pros and cons, but who says you can’t conduct your inventory audit throughout the school year?
Breaking your inventory audit into manageable pieces makes it easier to cooperate with school faculty and takes the pressure off your school IT department to get it right in one go. Not to mention, by the time the end of year rolls around, half of the hard work is already done. You’ll have a nice stepping stone showing inventory data progression from the beginning of the year, middle of the year, and all the way to summer break.
Lean on Technology for a Smoother Auditing Process
When you decide to conduct your school inventory audit is ultimately up to you, but one thing is for certain: it is all made easier with a dedicated school asset management software solution.
No matter what time of the year it is, a dedicated inventory management system allows K-12 IT teams to streamline their entire inventory management process. Here are some of the ways inventory management software speeds up school inventory audit procedures.
Automatic device verification
There’s no need for your IT teams to verify every student device manually. With automatic verifications, all students need to do is log in to their assigned district devices and their device will update its status in your asset management system.
Automatic verifications also make it easier for IT teams to conduct a standard audit throughout the year because they can be conducted at any time. It’s also a great way to ensure students haven’t lost or broken their devices, which helps reduce inventory shrinkage.
Access to detailed device data
The status of your district assets are not going to stay the same throughout the year. K-12 IT teams can leverage MDM integrations to get real-time access to detailed device data within their inventory management system.
Access to asset ownership data
When conducting your audits, it’s helpful to know who is responsible for your school-assigned devices. IT teams can integrate their preferred SIS application with inventory management software to access detailed ownership data.
This makes it easier for school IT departments to hold students accountable for their assigned devices—therefore, decreasing inventory turnover.
Teacher-friendly auditing tools
Depending on when you conduct your inventory audit, getting support from teachers is the best way to streamline your auditing workflow. Your district’s educators can use the dedicated teacher portal to conduct rapid physical device audits right from the classroom.
This comes in handy when your IT team is preparing for end-of-the-year device collections.
Finding the Right Tools for the Job
Identifying the right time of the year is a great step towards perfecting your auditing procedures—but that’s not all there is to it. If you’re still managing inventory in a spreadsheet or homegrown solution, you’ll have to spend countless hours to ensure there are no data errors (no matter what time of year it is).