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Newsletter 17: Web+Center for K-12 Asset Management and Help Desk Needs.

Web+Center Meets the Challenges of the K-12 School Environment
Asset Management and Help Desk Needs

Figure 1 – Tracking and verification of assets with barcodes and Pocket+Center

By Bruce Sowers
Director of Technology for Charles A. Beard Memorial School Inc.

I am a K-12 school Director of Technology and have been using Web+Center since version 3.0 was released; however, we only used it as a helpdesk tool for service call tracking. The Tech+Center running on Access proved itself reliable and straightforward in its’ approach.

A couple of years ago, we started using the asset tracking features for computer purchases. With our last physical fixed asset inventory taking over 80 man hours to complete last time, we decided that we needed to make some changes to speed things along. In addition to our own computer hardware inventory, my department has now been given the responsibility of providing a software solution for managing ALL assets in the entire district. We also needed some very specific features to comply with state regulations regarding school asset reporting. Our computer asset alone number over 1600 items, and with the rest of the district this count could reach as high as 4000. Having only two people in our department, I knew I needed something simple, reliable and quick.

I began searching the internet and school forums for software that would do the trick, then after reading the recent article by Brian Crowell regarding using a PDA with a scanner for asset management, I decided that possibly using Web+Center 5.0 with some modification was the way to go. After speaking with Scott at Internet Software Sciences (ISS) I was confident that we could accomplish the mission I had been given. Since our computer inventory details were already in the older version of Web+Center, ISS was able to convert our files so we wouldn’t lose precious purchasing and location information.

ISS was able to customize the pages we needed, as well as change some code to accommodate our inventory auditing needs. Now we have asset pages that display exactly what we need, in the order that we need it. I purchased two Symbol MC50 portable data terminals. Basically, these are Windows PDAs on steroids. They have built-in barcode readers, hefty batteries for prolonged periods of scanning and user-friendly keypads so you don’t have to rely on a stylus for all your navigation. The biggest advantage to this device is the Wi-Fi capabilities. Using Pocket+Center, we can inventory, add new assets or change information on the fly anywhere in the buildings! The MC50 is also VoIP ready, so our current Wi-Fi VoIP system integrates nicely with the Symbol. There’s nothing like doing inventory and being able to take a call at the same time on the same device – Wow!

In order for device to recognize scanned characters as keystrokes, I needed to download the software called “Data Wedge” from the Symbol developer site. This site is password protected; however membership is free. Since there were so many assets to be labeled, I ordered pre-printed mylar barcode labels. These have worked nicely, and scan reliably. I purchased the labels from I.M.S. our of Clearwater, Florida, which have worked well. Be sure to specify if you want them in sheet or roll form.

Figure 2 – Mylar barcodes integrated with the Web+Center Asset tracking

Although our asset management needs prodded me into expanding our use of Web+Center, I’m now ecstatic about the new billing features of Tech+Center. Although I will never invoice people or departments in the school, I can now conduct cost accounting based on our pay and time spent to document exactly where the technology costs are being incurred. This is of great value when determining how much additional training are upgrades could save us in some areas. I’ve also added some categories to help make reporting more specific to user type, such as faculty, staff or student, as well as making the problem type more granular in order to define possible training needs.

Using Web+Center is of enormous value to us, since we already are familiar with the basic navigation and concepts. The customizations done by ISS for us were very reasonably priced and have saved us a great deal expense. All this and we got just what we wanted.Product References: Symbol MC50 can be found on the Symbol website at:

About the Author: Bruce Sowers is the Director of Technology for Charles A. Beard Memorial School Corporation in Knightstown, Indiana. He can be reached at

Technical Note: These customizations are now available as part of the current downloadable Version 5.0 or also available as additional updated modules from our “Version server”. For more information on how to customize your Web+Center asset management component, please refer to Chapter 13 – Asset Management customization section in our programmers guide . This document has been updated so make sure you have the current version of the programmers guide that includes the asset customization section.

These updated asset management files can be obtained one of the three methods listed below: