03 October 2006

Asset audit

This year's audit has not gone smoothly...

A recent Financial Services audit of the Divisional computing and media equipment on the University’s Asset Register has failed to account for a number of items. Most of the items on the list are of no value and in the normal course of events would have been written off anyway, but for a number of reasons still appear on the University’s Asset Register and so need to be accounted for. These items were not in use and it was thought they were stored in preparation for disposal. It appears that they may have been disposed of without the necessary paperwork being completed and submitted to Financial Services.

By far the majority of the list seems to be as a result of the large turnover of staff in the Technical Services Unit, with new staff not appreciating the need to dispose of equipment, or track its movement from room to room, in line with established procedures. The staff have had it impressed upon them that they need to adhere to the University Asset Management policy when dealing with equipment disposal or movement in the future.

What are of concern are six relatively recent desktop or portable computers that cannot be accounted for. While we fully expect these to turn up in due course, that they weren’t where the Asset Register said they were is a problem. It may be that computers were moved without the knowledge of the Technical Services Unit: Divisional Staff must advise the TSU if they move computers around.

Some computers were apparently installed by the TSU without advising the Division’s Asset Officer or the University Assets Officer of the installation. Staff have been advised to ensure the appropriate notifications are sent. Others may have been lent out for off-campus use without the proper paperwork being completed (Authority to Remove University Equipment Off Campus). Again all staff need to be reminded that the Authority must be completed before equipment leaves the campus, and renewed annually.

One shortcoming of the present system identified by TSU staff is the complex process of ensuring asset registers are kept up-to-date. At the moment the process requires staff moving equipment to note the asset numbers (University and Divisional), email both Division’s Asset Officer and the University Assets Officer with the details of the movement, and then ensuring both have entered the details of the movement in their respective registers. The University Asset Register only covers assetable items: the Division’s covers most if not all of our equipment purchased or leased.

The University Asset Register is a part of Prophecy. At the moment there is no information about its replacement once the Prophecy system is replaced with Finance One, except that it is understood Finance One has a module for asset management although no-one responsible for assets has seen it yet, and the timetable for the changeover is vaguely ‘early next year sometime’.

One way of improving asset tracking in the Division is to streamline the process of recording assets movements so there is no multiple handling of the data required to register the movement. Once the transition to Finance One is complete (including the Asset Tracking module), there will be a review of the process to ensure it is most efficient and accurate. It adequate tracking can’t be accomplished within Finance One the Division should develop its own system to a level where more accurate records can be kept easily.