How To Manage Lending Programs in Schools
The process of lending equipment to students is common in the education sector. Students usually borrow laptops for a few hours or for the whole school day. Lending devices allow students to do high-quality work even when they don’t have access to technology on a regular basis. However, this basic loaning program requires major upgrades when schools start borrowing devices for a whole semester, or even the whole year.
A recent method to advance and encourage learning and teaching is the acquisition of laptops for distribution to their students for the entire school year. Among the popular portable computers on the market, Google is providing 50% of laptops to the Education Sector with their Chromebooks.
Before using such a program, this type of loaning program brings about many questions school districts need to resolve:
What’s the number of devices do we need to buy? How do we keep track of which student has which device? Can we distribute hundreds of devices without chaos? How do we maintain control of this program?
Luckily, the answers are easy with an IT Asset Management (ITAM) Solution. Although primarily used by the IT department, school districts and universities are discovering the benefits of using an ITAM solution to make workflows, like the entire loaning process, easier. Let’s explore four ways an IT Asset Management solution benefits loaning equipment programs:
The primary issue schools face when introducing a device loaning program is responsibility. For schools to maintain control over such programs, they need to know exactly who has which device, at all times. Common approaches to solving this problem typically involve solutions like manual tracking in a basic spreadsheet. This method isn’t ideal for consistent control of an on-going program. The information in this process is only updated when the devices are brought back, in order to see the device’s distribution and what information changed. Only when the year is over do schools know the number of devices they have, as well as the number of ones lost and damaged.
School District Inspector General, Ken Bramlett reported that Los Angeles Unified School District “did not have a complete, adequate & centralized inventory of all its computers.” As a result, almost $200 000 worth of computers ended up stolen or lost. In addition, over 3000 devices were unaccounted for.
An IT Asset Management solution holds information in one central location and is constantly updated. ITAM offers schools better control over the program which emphasizes student responsibility and reduces theft and damage.
Makes Distribution & Maintenance Easier
An ITAM solution has a feature called check-in/check-out which makes the distribution of devices easier. It gets data from the student, staff and inventory directory. After combining this information with IT Asset Management’s ability to use barcode readers to scan equipment, schools easily track which student is using which device. Inventory is also properly tracked and monitored. IT Asset Management solutions are capable of locating assets. Therefore, the solution can find a device when a student lost it.
Having all this information centralized in one location makes it easy for the information to update throughout the year. For example, if a student requires a replacement laptop. The change is easily identifiable and changed in the system. The central information also streamlines IT tasks. For example, if a student brings in a laptop due to an issue, IT can check the purchasing information to see if it still under warranty. This drives processes to be more efficient, rather than taking several weeks, even past the expiry of the warranty.
Reduces Security Risks
There are several security risks schools consider when introducing loaning programs. The dominant issue is what the students will use the computers for. Part of IT Asset Management is the management of software. Therefore, schools only give students access to the software the school requires. If students download something they aren’t allowed then IT will get a warning and take the proper measures to ensure that software deletes. This ensures the organization remains compliant in terms of licensing as well as preventing security risks for the students.
Tracks Program’s Success
IT Asset Management solutions have reporting capabilities that will help analyze the success of the loaning program. Determine the number of hours spent on distribution, maintenance, repairs and solving incidents. Focus on the metrics most important to you and set up email alerts to automatically send the reports to specific people at specific times. Maintain control over the loaning program by constantly updating it with the help of ITAM reporting capabilities.
An IT Asset Management solution gives schools more control over their loaning program. It provides centralized data providing valuable information on who is borrowing which device, the location of the device, inventory status, and software accessibility to students. Modern ITAM solutions streamline distribution and maintenance processes as well as reduces the chances of theft by holding students accountable. Finally, measure the success of your lending program with reports.
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