June 21, 2006 - MCHENRY, IL. Asset loss and damage costs the average district nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year. Larger districts lose even more, some topping $1.4 million in loss and damage annually.
These are among the results of a recent study of district asset management, conducted in conjunction with Quality Education Data. The study provides a picture of how districts manage their assets and the growing challenges they face. The study was co-sponsored by Follett Software Company.
The survey findings illustrate the importance of the emerging category of Educational Resource Management (ERM) solutions – products that centralize the management of district resources.
The study surveyed 479 district business managers, administrators and technology chiefs in all 48 contiguous states. Respondents were asked about the problems they faced in managing assets, and about the systems they used to keep track of everything from laptops to band uniforms. They were also asked to estimate the cost of loss, damage and redundant purchases of these assets.
"Asset management is a critical district business function," said Jeanne Hayes, President of The Hayes Connection, another of the study's co-sponsors. "The picture that emerges is one of frustration and confusion. Districts say they are having to do more asset reporting than ever before, but they're having more and more difficulty keeping up with the task."
Other major findings of the study include:
- Investments in educational technology (primarily computer and AV equipment) are among the assets most at risk, averaging more than $80,000 in loss annually per district.
- Districts that used manual tracking for computers reported a 41% greater annual cost of loss/damage than those that used a commercial asset tracking program, and 32% greater loss than those that used a spreadsheet/database program.
- Districts typically have no single technique for managing assets, but often use multiple systems depending on the asset; in fact, 66% of districts use two or more different kinds of tracking systems.
- Most districts are still using manual systems (59%) or simple spreadsheets or databases (51%) to track at least some of their assets, although larger districts are increasingly adopting dedicated commercial asset tracking programs or developing their own.
- Districts are struggling with a number of related problems, primarily involved with finding the time, money, personnel and tools to keep track of assets. "The departments in charge of those assets are not aware that we need to keep the lists up to date with deletions and additions," complained one district administrator. "In my opinion the biggest drawback is the time management. We do not have enough time and enough people to manage the assets," another respondent said.
Increased Pressure for Educational Resource Management
The data help explain the emergence of a new class of technology solutions, called Educational Resource Management (ERM), according to Follett Software Company president Tom Schenck. "District business managers clearly recognize the need to get a better handle on their assets," Schenck said. "This is driving demand for ERM solutions, which provide a single, coherent, district-wide framework for distributing and tracking assets."
"Centralizing the management of resources—library materials and media, textbooks, fixed and portable assets—has proven to be the key to helping districts free up time and money for instruction. A centralized Educational Resource Management solution reduces administrative costs and redirects those savings toward instruction," Schenck said.
Follett has been an industry leader in the ERM market with its Destiny Resource Management Solution. The suite includes Destiny Library Manager, Textbook Manager and Media Manager. Most recently, the company has introduced Destiny Asset Manager, which uses scanner technology and a browser-based interface to quickly and efficiently keep track of all of a district's fixed and portable assets, making sure districts get the most value for their budget investment.
Does the company's growing leadership in the ERM market mean it's walking away from school library management? "By no means," Schenck said. "School libraries are our base, and we remain committed to them. We're simply expanding the range of instructional assets that fall under the Destiny umbrella. That doesn't just mean new solutions for districts – it means even better solutions for libraries.
About Follett Software Company
As the market leader in education for more than 20 years, Follett Software Company produces the Destiny Resource Management Solution, today's premier best-in-class Educational Resource Management system. Those who have adopted the Destiny Resource Management Solution—more than 8,000 schools and 600 districts—have already seen some dramatic benefits in centrally managing their library materials, textbooks, instructional media, and fixed and portable assets.
More than 38,000 customers in almost half the nation's school districts have chosen Follett Software. Follett Software Company is a division of Follett Corporation, whose mission is to be the leading provider of educational solutions, services and products that empower schools, libraries, colleges, students and life-long learners.