Leading University uses a comprehensive inventory and asset software from Real Asset Management to manage all its items from procurement to disposal
Kingston University is utilising the Series4000 suite of products from Real Asset Management (RAM) to manage its fixed assets. The purchase and implementation of Asset4000, Inventory4000, Track4000 and Document4000 will significantly enhance the way the University can record, track, maintain, move, dispose and report on all inventory and assets items in a consistent and compliant way across the whole organisation.
Series4000 is a complete asset management solution that incorporates every aspect of fixed asset accounting; capital project control, lessee asset accounting, asset budgeting, helpdesk management, inventory control, asset tracking and maintenance management and ensures the entire life-cycle of each asset is managed as effectively and efficiently as possible.
With more than 22,000 students, seven faculties, several departments and an annual turnover in excess of £160 million, Kingston University is a large and complex organisation that requires a consistent and robust way to manage and utilise the true value of every asset item.
Azim Sachedina, head of financial operations and systems at Kingston University said the key driver for the project had been to introduce a system across the University's devolved structures (faculties, corporate and service departments as well as subsidiary companies) that would allow an easy and consistent way of managing its diverse range of inventory and asset items. "The system needed to take into account the University's many purchasing points and the procurement to disposal life cycle," he explained. "It also needed to achieve the appropriate level of compliance and governance (i.e. health and safety, insurance, the new Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Legislation, management information, etc.) All these requirements had given the project team a significant challenge," Sachedina said.
"Increasing the University's capitalisation threshold from £1,000 to £10,000 also required a system for distinguishing between balance sheet and non-balance sheet items. The implementation of Series4000 alongside new methods of labelling and handheld scanning devices met this challenge."
Kingston University went live with Series4000 in December 2008 after a period where the software was successfully piloted. Key enhancements identified during the pilot phase were agreed and promptly and efficiently implemented in Series4000 by RAM's development team.
Before the implementation of Series4000, most areas of the University had operated their own recording systems, some of which were manual while others were complex Access databases, Sachedina comments, "Although the University had a reasonably accurate method of recording costs and depreciation against assets using Asset4000, other data sets for these assets, such as location, serial numbers etc., were not captured accurately."
Inventory items had been left to local initiatives which had resulted in incomplete records, movement of items not being recorded and maintenance records not being easily accessible, he added. "Over time, the sheer volume of records needing attention overtook the manpower we had at our disposal to manage the accounting. Quite simply, the overall management of our inventory and asset items was not consistent or up to a standard that one would expect for an organisation as large as ours."
Series4000 had followed the success of the RAM automated fixed asset register that the University had in place for many years, Sachedina confirmed. "This was a natural extension of functionality already used. We have implemented the system for 150 users, including technicians, administrators and finance staff, across the organisation. Uptake of the system has been successful as all users recognise the benefits of having instant access to complete and accurate records."
Series4000 will enable Kingston University to fully comply with Health and Safety, Insurance and Audit requirements. Health and Safety documents such as warranties, maintenance and inspection certifications will be linked to the relevant inventory item via Document4000.
The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Legislation came into force on 1 July 2007. This legislation places responsibility on the University and its subsidiary companies for disposing of WEEE that is stored, collected, treated, recycled and disposed of separately from general waste. Provision has been made within Series4000 to record and to dispose of WEEE items by the University’s Authorised Contractor and to scan back into the system against the relevant item the certificate of disposal. This then provides a complete audit trail.
Series4000 enables all inventory related information to be captured in one central system. Inventory4000 will provide comprehensive details of inventory items whereas Asset4000 reflects assets with a minimum purchase of £10,000 and manages the process of depreciation. Documents associated with all assets will be linked via Document4000. The system provides powerful reporting capabilities which will assist in maintenance and procurement processes.
Adopting a consistent approach to asset management will ensure the correct items are recorded at the right time and that records are complete.
Processes put in place rely on good communication between finance officers and technicians but will allow each group to focus on the information relevant to them and will remove the duplication of tasks.
A common disposal process has been agreed which will ensure items are removed from the system when they are no longer in use.
Quality of Data
A central system and common approach to managing assets will ensure the data captured is consistent and that records are updated throughout the lifecycle of the product, from procurement to disposal.
Data previously held on the asset register was migrated to Inventory4000 but was mostly out of date and incomplete making it impossible to identify the physical item. To ensure that the system provides an accurate reflection of the assets owned by Kingston University, faculties and departments will perform a complete audit of their existing equipment. The audit results will be uploaded to replace the existing out of date records.
The use of hand held scanners in conjunction with RAM’s Tracking module will make it easier to manage inventory items which are often subject to change due to room moves and staff transfers. Improved tracking and auditing processes will help faculties and departments to update the data on a regular basis.
An up to date system will also provide faculties and departments with an accurate account of what items they have and where they are located.
Reduced Resource Effort
The introduction of one system that will hold all relevant details will reduce staff effort across the University.
The majority of local databases were created and updated by only one member of staff which proved difficult to manage during busy periods and led to inaccurate data being held. Each faculty and department has multiple Finance and Technical resources trained in the use of Series4000 so the workload will now be shared.
The decision to purchase Series4000 was a natural progression for Kingston University as they had been using an asset register solution from RAM for some time.