Following an internal audit into the management of equipment within its schools earlier this year, it was identified that a centralised asset register was required for better visibility, control and reporting of UWS’ asset base. The University is the first in Scotland to implement MRI’s capital accounting and inventory tracking modules.
With origins dating back to 1897, the University of the West of Scotland is one of the UK’s most innovative and modern universities. Comprised of six academic schools across four campuses in Ayr, Dumfries, Hamilton and Paisley, UWS has an annual turnover in excess of £100 million and accommodates more than 15,000 students.
The new software, used in conjunction with its finance system, Agresso, replaces a multitude of spreadsheets formerly used for recording assets. Previously, each of UWS’ six schools had operated its own manual, Excel-based recording system for non-capitalised items, whilst the capitalised fixed assets were recorded on a separate spreadsheet managed by the finance team. Kirsty Gillen, Capital Projects Administrator at UWS comments, “Although we had an accurate method of recording costs and depreciation against our 400+ capitalised assets, we had very limited information on variables such as location and condition. We had no real insight into the whereabouts of our 3000+ inventory items which, since implementing MRI’s software, £9.6 million worth of assets have been identified. We are now also able to record all supporting detail including location, purchase order custodian and serial number, providing a more consistent and robust way of managing assets across the university.”
Kirsty continues, “We are already realising time saving efficiencies through the use of the new system. For example, in preparation for year-end, we will be able to produce the 2014/15 depreciation charge and fixed assets note for the accounts in a matter of minutes, a job which normally takes us many hours to complete.”
In terms of compliance, the new software now ensures that the appropriate internal controls are in place for the entire lifecycle of each asset, from acquisition to disposal. It is also being used to manage and record the transition year from UK GAAP to FRS 102, greatly simplifying the process of running two parallel sets of accounts in preparation for the first full year of FRS 102 in 2014-15.
Having reviewed a number of different suppliers and outlined the advantages and disadvantages of each, the decision to purchase MRI’s software was clear cut for UWS. In addition to its expertise and experience within the education sector, the key deciding factor was MRI’s unique ability to provide an integrated asset management solution comprising modules for capital accounting, depreciation forecasting and asset and inventory tracking.
The centralised asset register has now been rolled out across the University and is being used by the six schools and service departments. Finance record details of both fixed assets over the capitalisation threshold of £5,000 and inventory items such as engineering, medical and scientific equipment.
UWS will also be using MRI’s mobile asset tracking application alongside the asset register to enable each school to undertake regular physical audits, making it easier to control and track items of equipment which are often subject to change due to room moves and staff transfers. Making use of UWS’ existing smart devices and therefore eliminating any further investment in scanning equipment, MRI’s mobile app works in real time via a wireless connection and will allow users across the University to search for assets, add new assets and complete events remotely. Kirsty comments, “It is reassuring to have a detailed understanding of the location and value of our asset base. I have every confidence that the app will transform the audit process, improving both the accuracy of the register and the utilisation of equipment.”
Longer term, UWS will consider the roll out of MRI’s inventory module across its Estates department in a drive to implement one centralised platform and join up communication across departments.
Kirsty concludes, “The MRI team have been exceptionally helpful throughout the implementation process, providing guidance and advice on best practice where required. The ongoing technical support available to us is also excellent and we look forward to a prosperous and happy working relationship with MRI for years to come.”