Tracking and managing equipment assets pose a challenge for any organization. It can be particularly difficult for schools whose main focus is teaching and learning, not asset management. Oversight Software, a New Zealand-based company, developed a solution with its cloud-based SaaS platform purpose built for equipment and resource management in a school setting.
Public schools in New Zealand operate on a fixed budget provided by a grant from the government. It is up to each individual school to procure their own equipment and other resources. In most cases, schools lack a cohesive way to manage their physical assets, which can result in equipment going missing and lack of knowledge of what they have or what they really need. This can often lead to an inefficient allocation of limited resources.
Schools use a number of ways to try and gain better control of their equipment assets including electronic spreadsheets and paper records. Others try to adapt existing systems like library checkout systems or accounting packages that aren’t really fit for the purpose of equipment management.
In this post, we uncover:
Putting a Square Peg into a Round Hole
Overcoming the Import Obstacle
Partnering with Flatfile for Future Growth
“We realized there had to be a better way,” said John Baigent, co-founder of Oversight. “School administrators were trying to put a square peg in a round hole and the systems they were using weren’t providing a clear picture of what they had and what they needed.”
With over a decade of experience in the New Zealand public school system, Baigent and his team created Oversight to simplify equipment asset management for educational institutions. Schools fill out their equipment details and import their data into Oversight allowing them to print barcodes and attach them to their equipment for easy scanning and tracking. Oversight then collects all the data and provides proactive notifications on a regular basis on which items are coming up to expiration and need replacing. This proactive approach prevents costly overruns by enabling schools to procure only the equipment they need and providing one, easy-to-access, central source of information.
As a startup, Oversight’s top priority is acquiring new customers. Eliminating barriers to closing sales therefore becomes crucial. As they began to reach out to schools to sell their product, Oversight quickly found that getting the schools to import their data properly was becoming a major obstacle.
They built a basic CSV uploader which allowed customers to hit browse, find their CSV file, and upload their data. The feature included a link to documentation to help customers with properly formatting, but importing data remained a challenge.
“We just assumed customers would take the time to learn how to correctly prepare their data for input,” said Baigent. “They would know what columns needed to be in what order and it wouldn’t be much of a hurdle. But obviously it was.”
Oversight felt the negative impact of the importing problem with one of their first customers.
“As soon as our inhouse upload feature went live, the customer just dragged and dropped their entire asset register from a completely different system,” said Baigent. “Our uploader sent out around 2,000 errors they needed to fix. They came back and said it was just too hard and they weren’t interested in engaging with us anymore. We lost the customer because of the data import problem.”
Oversight was forced to handle the imports themselves with a manual CSV process and customer files began stacking up. The Oversight team would constantly field inquiries as to when data would be loaded into the system. They quickly realized they needed a much more streamlined way for customers to import their files.
“It was a real pain and we were just wasting so much time,” said Baigent. “We began searching for a solution and found Flatfile and we quickly recognized it as exactly what we needed. Flatfile enables customers to easily upload and import their files without tripping themselves up. The upload solution relies on back end validation rather than client side validation, so it gives us control over how data is formatted and ensures imported data is clean and ready to use.”
The Flatfile implementation from initial signup to full operation took only a few weeks and customer feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
“I reached out to one customer to touch base to see how they were getting on and they said everything was working perfectly which is awesome,” said Baigent.
With data importing now so simple, Oversight is able to offer data uploading as a free service for same-day signup - a valuable incentive for onboarding customers quickly. Flatfile is also a crucial component to Oversight as the application user base grows, attracting larger schools, and even some commercial organizations, to use their solution.
“We are looking at onboarding schools that range from tiny schools that might only put 20 or 30 bits of equipment into it right up to ones that have 20,000 pieces of equipment,” said Baigent. “There is quite a big scope that we aim to service.”
Baigent sees other Flatfile offerings such as Flatfile’s data onboarding platform with the solution’s collaborative workspace feature as important components to continue to support Oversight’s growth.
“We’re always interested in reinventing our software offering,” said Baigent. “As we grow, we’ll be looking at ways to better onboard all these customers at once and then how we can handle renewals and subscriptions. Some of it is pretty manual but the more we can automate, the easier it’s going to be. Flatfile primes us for growth. We aren’t spending precious time reinventing the wheel in terms of file upload, we are spending our time developing features that our customers want to see and subsequently make their jobs easier.”
“We aim to be a long term customer of Flatfile and wave their flag whenever we can,” Baigent summed up. “We look forward to a long time partnership.”
Oversight’s focus is to provide your school with the clarity that comes through oversight of resources, equipment, and assets. This data clarity helps Senior Leaders make effective decisions which in turn ensures the efficient allocation of already scarce resources. For more information, visit our website at www.edu-oversight.com or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Flatfile's mission is to remove barriers between humans and data. With AI-assisted data onboarding, they eliminate repetitive work and make B2B data transactions fast, intuitive, and error-free. Flatfile automatically learns how imported data should be structured and cleaned, enabling customers and teams to spend more time using their data instead of fixing it. Flatfile has transformed over 300 million rows of data for companies like ClickUp, Blackbaud, Benevity, and Toast. To learn more about Flatfile’s data onboarding platform email email@example.com or get started for free at flatfile.com.