Transcript of this event:
Adrea Sustarsic: “My name is Adrea Sustarsic. I’d like to thank all of you guys for taking time out of your day to join us where we will be discussing six ways that automating surplus asset management can help your university… So without further ado, I’d like to introduce our host for today Sean Pugatch.”
“Sean has nearly a decade of experience helping institutions of higher learning and state governments with all of their surplus and fixed-asset management needs. His expertise ranges from consulting with surplus operations, to the set-up, training, and support of software programs to ensure proper stewardship and disposal of assets for universities across the country. He’s got a really great webinar plan so I’m going to turn it over to him now to get started.”
Sean Pugatch: “Thank you very much, Adrea. Hello, everybody. As Adrea just mentioned, I worked in surplus and fixed asset management for quite some time. And I actually started my career here with AssetWorks in our tech support office. In that role, I learned about various surplus operations, firsthand, by speaking directly with and visiting with our customers. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to continue my learning by traveling to and consulting with various surplus operations across the country. And once again, I’d like to thank you all for attending and we really appreciate you taking some time out of your busy days.
“Before we dive right in, I just wanted to express how excited we are to have such a diverse audience on the line today. In the years I’ve worked with surplus staff and higher education, I’ve learned that surplus warehouses come in various shapes and sizes. And as a result you all have various need and different needs. Some of you are leveraging student workers in addition to a full-time staff. Others are just a one or two person operation. Some of you all may already be using an automated solution, whether it be homegrown or hosted by a third-party vendor. And others are currently performing various warehouse functions manually, using things like spreadsheets. We just hope that you’re using something. Some of you all have an on-campus warehouse, while others are off campus or maybe even completely virtual. But regardless of where your warehouse is in the ever-evolving surplus journey, my hope for today’s webinar is that you’ll walk away with answered questions, new information, and maybe a better understanding of some of the ways your university can benefit from automating surplus management.”
1. Get More Done, Spend Less Time
“So let’s start now by talking about precious, precious time. When you’re at work, where does it all go? As one very wise university surplus manager once told us, ‘We follow a routine but you deal with something new every day and time can run away from you.’
“So we’re going to look at how automation can help get you more done in less time.
“Automating surplus eliminates many of the manual steps involved in everyday warehouse management. Regardless of the methods you’re currently using, your time is likely spent juggling dozens of tasks, including the management of forms for asset transfers, coordinating pickups and receiving processes for incoming surplus assets, and then documenting all of that stuff that we just mentioned above. Automated surplus software can really help with all of that.
“So let’s start with asset transfers. So here at AssetWorks, when we refer to an ‘asset transfer,’ we’re talking about the process by which university departments are notifying you at Surplus that they have items they want to dispose of. Managing asset transfers manually is a really difficult process for many of the universities I’ve worked with. Planning, managing, and maintaining current documents for the requests and approval processes are really hard enough on their own. And they’re often compounded by the lack of buy-in from other university departments.
“And if you’re not currently using an automated solution, you’re probably dealing with tons of hard copy forms and spreadsheets and multiple email folders, in addition to the stress of actually facilitating transport of surplus assets to and from your warehouse. An automated surplus system allows you to create, approve and receive new surplus transfers directly within the system, eliminating the need for those hard copies and delays in processing.
“Automated surplus asset management can also help your warehouse save time during pickup and receiving processes. When creating an asset transfer request department users can select the delivery method and even maybe print out pickup labels to be placed on necessary items, so that way when your surplus folks arrive to pick up assets, they know exactly what to collect.
“Automated pickup and receiving processes will also save you time when it comes to scheduling, producing and filing the necessary forms.
All right, so before we move on, we’ve got a few quick tips loaded into the presentation here. We’ve got our first one here for warehouse management.
Quick Tip: Conduct a Physical Inventory
“And if you’re considering an automated surplus solution, you’ll really want to start with clean data. So we recommend to help facilitate that, you consider conducting a physical inventory of your warehouse. We want to make sure that we’re uniquely identifying some of our assets, and uniquely identifying groups of other types of assets in various quantities. Things like chairs, tables and filing cabinets… those things that most of you all have tons of. At the most basic level, you should really aim to capture data including quantities, location, condition, serial number and even make and model. For those of you not currently using an automated system, it might seem like a daunting process. But automated solutions are an investment. And as the saying goes, ‘Bad data in, means bad data out.’ And you’ll really want to make sure you’re starting with good clean, accurate data that you can trust.
“Another great way that automation can save you time is by integrating with any other software system that’s routinely used within your university. Like your ERP system, or a system for managing the active assets, or a system that manages accounting functions. One way that integrated surplus software can help save time is related to the asset transfer process that we just talked about. When integrated with the university’s software for active assets, department users seeking to submit a transfer request for those assets can pick from a list of current university assets that live within the surplus platform. Once selected, the asset already has all of the information that exists from that record in the existing university system and it pulls that information right onto the surplus transfer. Once the asset is received by Surplus Property, that information can be automatically fed back to the active asset or accounting system, including automatic system disposals for capital assets.
“Automated surplus systems also have the ability to integrate with your system’s work management systems which can help simplify the pickup and receiving process. Once an asset transfer has been approved, all transactional information related to the request including the assets listed can be sent to your work order system. In addition to help making life a little easier, integrations like these also help maintain data accuracy and consistency. A robust system can really do a lot to help you reclaim more hours in the day.
“So I glossed over some of the smaller details here for the sake of time, but the bottom line is this, automating processes will save you and your folks a significant amount of time so that you can do more.
2. Encourage University Engagement
“From our experience working with universities, surplus operations have a lot to offer their institutions. And yet, a lot of the surplus managers I’ve spoken with over the years struggle to draw adequate engagement. Universities have multiple competing priorities, and it can be challenging to get buy-in and support from administration or other departments. So now let’s talk about how automating surplus can really help encourage these university departments with more engagement.
“Automating surplus management won’t just make your life easier. With a fully-automated system transferring surplus to your warehouse is an easy process for your department users, too. There have been various stories over the years that I’ve heard, different transfer processes… A process I heard recently at a university that has an online form that must be printed out. That form is printed, filled out by the department requester, put in the mail, campus mail, and sent to the approver. That approver then makes his approval, puts it back in the campus mail, sends it on to the next approval. The assets on that form may need to be approved two more times by other approvers depending upon the type of assets they are. Until it’s finally reached surplus again by the snail mail. With an automated system, this entire mess could have been avoided, using the tools we discussed earlier.
“I don’t know that all automated systems include user integrations like single sign-on or active directory. But really, they should. In case you’re not familiar, single sign-on refers to one set of login credentials being used to access multiple applications. Today, many universities are using this type of technology and for a number of really great reasons. For starters, it’s really convenient. Users don’t have to worry about memorizing tons of different user names and passwords or keeping a list of spreadsheets for each of your individual logins, as sometimes I happen to do. As a result, single sign-on can increase productivity, because the easier the software is to access, the more likely it is that it will be used effectively and more often. 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 can definitely help with that.
“Having one database for all your surplus asset information will also help you maintain your consistency. A centralized easy to access system for managing surplus helps to support increase organization and communication throughout all departments.
“These days a lot of people do online research before going to a store to make a purchase. I know I won’t do anything in a store without looking online first. So meet your customers where they are. Look for a solution that offers an online viewing platform. That way customers can view available items before they come to you, before they come to your store or shop, before picking up the phone to call you. Enabling shoppers to view items online will really encourage the redistribution of university assets.
“As I discussed earlier, automated systems provide a detailed history recorded for every asset in the system. This can be extremely helpful when it comes time to communicate information to other units in the university, such as the accounting department. When someone has a question related to the assets, the information is easily accessible.
“Before we move on to the next subject, I wanted to mention another quick tip for encouraging engagement. And this would be:
Quick Tip: Departmental Reimbursements
“Some universities are already doing this and some are not. But giving departments a stake in the game can definitely help to encourage participation. Operations can consider giving a percentage of revenues from asset sales to the department who disposed of the asset. You can think of these reimbursements of the way like a departments reward for engaging with your warehouse. If they know they’ll be compensated, the more likely they are to participate and give you all their good stuff.
3. Ensure Proper Stewardship
“In addition to saving you time and helping to encourage engagement, automated surplus can also do a lot to help you ensure proper stewardship of those big, expensive, valuable university assets. This is obviously a big deal. For many, adequate funding isn’t always a guarantee so whether your surplus warehouse is fully-funded or self-funded, resources can be limited. As you well-know it’s important to preserve the resources that your university already has.
Accounting & Reporting
“And as rules and regulations become more rigid, the asset reporting process grows more complicated. Automating surplus can simply that process. Automated surplus management tools provide you with the ability to run a variety of reports. The right solution should be flexible, should allow you to easily generate accurate compliant reports. Many solutions offer canned reports or premade reports like purchase history and asset history reports. As a result, you’re able to make informed decision with detailed asset data at your fingertips.
“We’ll get into more detail on sales later, but automation will also maintain a detailed history of all the surplus asset sales also made within the system. Which contributes to a simpler, more streamlined reporting process.
Quick Tip: Choose a solution that supports the creation of ad hoc reports.
As we’ve discussed earlier no two university surpluses are the same. For this reason, you should also look for an agile solution that offers the ability to create, save and export your own reports based upon the available information in your database.
Complete Audit Trail
“Compliance is critical for your university to continue to be awarded grant funding. So to ensure compliance, having a clear picture of your assets and maintaining accurate detailed surplus records is a must. Automated surplus management software maintains all information related to a surplus asset’s history in one sophisticated database, making it easy to access what you need, when you need it. Especially when the department tells the auditor, ‘Hey, I don’t know where those assets went. I think I sent them to Surplus.’
“It’s no secret that these days there’s an increasing push toward fiscal transparency for organizations, including universities. And it’s not just the government who’s expecting you to manage funds properly. It’s also an important consideration for current students and potential applicants of the university, too. The ability to create and save accounting reports in one secure database with a complete audit trail provides total asset visibility to your surplus operation, and as a result, you have ongoing evidence that your university is managing funds honestly and appropriately. Integrating an automated system with your university system for your active assets is another great way to ensure proper stewardship for these assets. Using a secure database to add touchpoints to the process will help to increase accountability.
“Now, moving on to the fourth way that automation can help…
4. Increase Revenue Generation
“Automated surplus systems can contribute to increased revenue generation for your university. And regardless of how your Surplus department is funded, it’s never a bad thing to bring in more revenue. I’ve seen firsthand that your surplus operations can play a large role in generating revenue for their university with or without software. But automating things like workflow processes, reporting and sales can support and strengthen your money-making endeavors in a couple of really great ways.
More time for Strategic Initiatives
“As discussed earlier, performing surplus management work processes manually means that you’re spending a lot of time on those admin tasks, like data entry, organizing documents, organizing email folders and so on. But by the time one such process ends, another one begins, leaving little time for other duties. As a result, you might feel like your warehouse is just scratching the surface when it comes to sales-related activities, like hosting live auctions or listing items on an online auction platform. And even advertising available items to your university and your local communities. By streamlining everyday operations, automated surplus management provides your institution with the ability to focus more time on revenue-generating initiatives. Additionally, you’ll be able to invent more time in strategic decisions, making and planning, based on the measured results of each initiative, ultimately helping your surplus warehouse and sales grow.
“Automating surplus management can also help ensure you get the best return on asset sales. I know that many of you use online auctions to sell surplus assets and, if you aren’t already, consider using an online auction platform, like GovDeals or PublicSurplus. These online auction platforms are a great way to get your best items out in front of bidders. Upon implementing surplus management software that interfaces with these leading online auction platforms, you can eliminate the need for double data entry, by creating auctions directly from your surplus asset database. Pictures, descriptions and sales information follow the asset as it’s listed for auction and sold.
“Automation can also be great for live auctions by providing lotting capabilities, as well as the ability to register bidders, process sales and produce invoices.
“And finally, for those of you with storefronts, an automated solution can help by creating and processing sales and producing invoices. You can also manage accounts and individual buyers, while tracking payments against sales, payment histories and more.
“And here’s another quick tip for you all.
Quick Tip: Include Images for Offline/Online Auction Sales
“Whether for sale for a virtual warehouse or through online auction, we always say photographs of an asset can be a deciding factor for many prospective buyers. A mobile application for adding photos to asset records—a feature which is available with automated surplus management software—can really save you time and improve inventory turnover rates, as shoppers can see images of available surplus. Pictures will help them get an idea of important details, like the asset’s condition, and could really help you make a sale.
5. Support Cost Avoidance Efforts
“In addition to contributing to increased revenue generation, automated surplus management can also support your university’s cost avoidance efforts. To curb spending, your surplus operation has the power to limit new university purchases by encouraging and facilitating the use of surplus property.
Extra Help, Same Staff
“So I touched on this earlier, but I’ve learned that for many of you it can be difficult to get buy-in from administration. As a result, warehouse staff size is often a little bit too small for comfort. Think of surplus management software as basically a new staff member, by taking responsibility for things like property transfers and email notifications, you and your staff can spend their newfound time tending to things that even those most advanced automation can’t do. Like developing new relationships with university departments that can help your surplus operation grow in size and revenue. In fact, one large university in the Midwest told us that by automating surplus management processes, their warehouse was able to increase surplus volume by nearly three times. All that without adding an additional staff member.
Extend Useful Life
“In case you didn’t know already, at AssetWorks we’re really big believers in taking a proactive approach to asset management. By facilitating things like resale and redistribution, your surplus warehouse is directly responsible for extending the useful life of university assets, ensuring that every penny paid for an asset is well-spent. With a recorded history of assets sold, you can use the data provided by an automated system to calculate a dollar value of costs avoided, as well as detailed information on what’s been distributed back on the campus. When it comes to making a name for your surplus warehouse, being able to provide your administration with a dollar amount of avoided costs can really go a long way.
“And the final benefit we’ll be discussing, is automating can help you reduce its environmental impact by supporting waste diversion efforts.
6. Divert More Waste from Landfill
“So as we all know, sustainability has been a really big buzzword for universities in the past few years. Reutilizing your school’s surplus property helps to facilitate a sustainable reputation which really assists in tracking employees and students. And I found this extremely interesting when we were doing some research. According to the Princeton Review, 64% of students consider a school’s commitment to environmental issues when choosing a college.
“Surplus can also help to boost your school’s STAR score. But if you’re not familiar with STARs, STARs is a self-reporting blueprint established by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education or ASHE, for measuring sustainable performance. University surplus can have a pretty significant impact on your institution’s sustainability efforts. The right automated solution should include all the features you need to support and record all the ways your surplus operation is contributing to sustainability and waste diversion goals on your campus.
“With surplus management software, your university can keep a close eye on each of your assets’ movements from acquisition all the way through disposal. As we discussed early on in the webinar, an automated system gives users the ability to identify the method of disposal for every asset passing through the system. The surplus system can be used to track the weights of the scrapped assets and even integrate with the university’s waste management system.
“Most universities I’ve worked with are really big fans of lotting, when it comes to live auctions and online auction sales. By lotting a group of similar assets together and selling them as a bundle universities are able to clear out warehouse items that may otherwise have a hard time selling and end up in a landfill. Automated surplus systems will provide you the ability to lot items for sale from within the database and from that point forward an asset lot can be tracked as one unit and at the individual asset level.
“So there you have it, as we’ve seen throughout the webinar, moving to an automated solution for managing surplus assets can result in a slew of fantastic benefits, not just for your warehouse but for your entire university. Automating can help you save time, strengthen communication quality among university departments, ensure proper stewardship of assets, increase revenue generation, support cost avoidance efforts and divert more waste from the landfill, ultimately providing your university with a better way to satisfy the needs of a changing world.
“From generating revenue and putting assets back to work for the university to regulatory compliance, what you do helps your university thrive. The right solution should include all the features we discussed today in order to support these endeavors, helping you convince the rest of your university what we already know: that your surplus warehouse has a lot to offer to your university and the students and staff within it.”
Question #1: “So, how can I see a demo of AssetWorks software?”
Sean Pugatch: “That’s a really good question. So… you can reach out directly to me. We can discuss some things first. I don’t like to jump into demos right away, just because I want to learn more about your operation. I want to learn more about the way you’re specifically handling surplus now and the future you see in your operations. I think we have a slide here at the end that, yep, has my contact information and we’ll put that up for everybody to have just in case you wanted to reach out.”
Question #2: “This is about an integration. Does AssetWorks’ Surplus Management Software interface with GovDeals?”
Sean Pugatch: “Yeah, we do. We have an integration to GovDeals through WorkingTogether with them. We created this interface, where we send asset data directly from our software system that obviously is being populated by a surplus operation to GovDeals to start the auction. The auctions run just like they would normally through GovDeals you just don’t have to rekey the information in and when the asset’s sold and it’s picked up, I believe, and paid for, that information passes back to our system to inactivate the record in our surplus system.”