It’s that time of year again: audit season. It seems every time the trees shed their leaves for the last time, and the weather begins its frigid descent, we find ourselves tucked inside our offices, preparing reports and inventories ahead of our respective audits. And every year it seems like there is more and more paperwork to go through, review, and compile. More and more, we’re being asked to comply with this accreditation standard, and that policy directive, and the list gets more complicated by the minute. Unfortunately, we can’t avoid learning how to apply these new requirements in the workplace. A quartermaster must learn them, understand them, find ways to move those requirements forward with established rules, and make for an efficient transition. Whether we recognize it or not, we’re asking our quartermasters to do a lot. And while they do have to have a thorough understanding of how all these nuts and bolts come together, we should be aiming to make their role a bit easier. We do this by making tools available that can make their work easier to accomplish.
Most everyone is familiar with the premise of an audit: the person in charge runs reports on all things in their department they are responsible for, and another person, or usually a group, go and audit the reports through inspection and review to ensure that what is being reporting lines up with what actually is. The goal is that the pre-audit reports are 100 percent accurate, when compared to the post-audit findings. Many audits discover deviances from reporting standards, rather than outright discrepancies, but in either case, some things need to be corrected. If you’ve done your due diligence by ensuring that all physical items are in their assigned location, shouldn’t your software be taking care of the rest?
The first problem with most asset management software is that while it tracks inventory, it does not compile data beyond that first-level threshold. Instead, the software is so rigid in it’s abilities, that it requires the end- user (your quartermaster) to manually extract the data held within it, and re-write it into the various pre-audit reports your agency demands. One can see we already have a problem concerning efficiency with what we described. But even worse, now we have to format report templates, make sure they’re present in an easy to read format, and we’re having to take a lot of time to do this, on top of reviewing our original numbers to ensure we’re inputting the correct data, and in all the right places.
Software should do a lot more work for you than inventory. We concede, the backbone of any asset management software is indeed inventory functions, but it’s 2017, haven’t we reached a point where technology, and the people building software, recognize the need for more in-depth functionality in the tools offered to quartermasters?
Asset management software should be providing you all the reports you will need to perform any audit, including the inspection materials used by the independent group performing it. From count and location sheets, to summary pages, everything that you’ll need to not only run your quartermaster shop, but also review it should be available within the software you choose to manage your inventory.
Implementation of Rules
Yet another problem that most asset management software has yet to address, is implementing the rules that your quartermaster must abide by in their handling of agency inventory, and making those rules interactive within the management functions of the software. Why hasn’t this been done? Because most software vendors that provide this type of software don’t have the experience and knowledge of what happens in a law enforcement agency’s quartermaster shop. They understand inventory management, and that’s something with a little training, anyone can comprehend.
The reason this should be part of your software, is because rules of operation change with experience, they change when things fail, when things go well, when other ideas get introduced, and so forth. Your software shouldn’t be so inflexible that it cannot absorb how your agency does business, and meet your specific needs. Ensuring that how you do business is carried out in each step is important for all involved, and even more stressed when it comes to an audit. Your software has to have your back when it comes to this.
Between rules, reports, and inventory, these things should be brought together in your asset management software system, so that as items are entered, assigned, transferred, brought in for repair, or whatever else comes up, each system transaction follows the rules your agency wants, and the results of which are collected into your agency-structured reports, and all data can be summarized into audit forms. Having software that streamlines your compliance standard from beginning to end is crucial. So much emphasis is placed on this process that whole operations are built around it. It only makes sense that your software can change with conditions.
Audits make a year’s worth of work stand on its own. Software is the tool that is supposed to back it up. Does yours?
Be safe out there!