University surplus management is an important job. From our experience working closely with universities, we’ve learned that surplus operations have a lot to offer their institutions, including waste diversion and revenue generation.
Your surplus operation can certainly be successful alone, but adequate support and cooperation from fellow university departments can help your warehouse achieve its fullest potential. Bringing in more stakeholders won’t just help increase revenue (though it will). You’ll divert more waste, supporting your universities commitment to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
And yet, a lot of the university surplus managers we’ve spoken with struggle to draw adequate engagement. Universities have multiple competing priorities, and it can be a challenge to get the necessary buy-in from administration or other departments.
In this post, we’ll explore two benefits of automating surplus that can support your efforts to encourage university engagement:
Ease of use
Ease of Use
Automating surplus won’t just make your life easier. With a fully automated system, transferring surplus to your warehouse is an easy process for department users, too.
Over the years, we’ve encountered endless varieties of transfer processes used by universities – and if we’re honest, some of them sound pretty stressful. We won’t mention any names, but below, we’ve illustrated one of the scarier transfer process stories we’ve heard, using paper forms.
With an automated system, cumbersome and time consuming messes (like the process illustrated above) can be avoided. Although surplus management software still requires an approval process to ensure the security of your assets, all manual processes are automated, from start to finish.
A department user’s initial request is completed online, as well as all approval requests. By automating cumbersome asset transfer functions, your warehouse will recognize significant time savings, allowing you to bring in and sell more surplus items, and in less time.
And if you think a tedious transfer process is inconvenient for you, just imagine how department users feel! Making the transfer request process simple and intuitive will make users more willing to participate.
Currently, not all automated systems offer user integrations like Single Sign On (SSO) or active directory, but they certainly should.
Single sign on refers to one set of login credentials being used to access multiple applications.
Today, many universities are utilizing this type of technology.
There are many benefits associated with SSO. For starters, it’s convenient. Users don’t have to worry about memorizing tons of different usernames and passwords, or keeping a list of spreadsheets for each individual login. As a result, single sign on can increase productivity—the easier the software is to access, the more likely it is that it will be used effectively.
So if you want to encourage engagement from other university departments, making the asset transfer process as easy as possible is a great place to start – and a surplus solution that offers user integration will help.
Quick tip: If you’re able, consider providing departmental reimbursements. Giving departments a stake in the game can do a lot to help encourage engagement.
Operations can consider giving a percentage of revenues from asset sales back to the department who disposed of the asset. Think of these reimbursements as a department’s reward for engaging with your warehouse. If they know they’ll be compensated, they’ll be more likely to participate.
Having one database for all of your surplus asset information will also help you maintain consistency. A centralized, easy-to-access system for managing surplus helps to support increased organization and communication throughout all departments.
By keeping the lines of communication open, department users will be more willing to participate.
These days, a lot of people do online research before going into a store to make a purchase. One study found that according to current trends, 51% of Americans prefer online shopping.
Why not meet your customers where they are? Look for a solution that offers an online viewing platform. That way, customers can view available items before coming to the store to shop, or picking up the phone to call you.
Enabling shoppers to view warehouse items online will provide an added convenience to potential buyers, and can help to encourage the redistribution of university assets.
The right automated university surplus management system will provide a detailed history recorded for every asset in your system.
This can be extremely helpful when it comes time to communicate information to other units within your university, like the accounting department. When someone has a question related to an asset, the information is easily accessible.
Communication is key to any healthy relationship, and your surplus warehouse is no exception. Data visibility will enhance your relationship with other university departments, multiplying the amount of advocates you have engaging with your surplus operation.
What does your university surplus warehouse do to encourage engagement among other departments? Email your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured on the blog!