When David Case, E.M.C., started as a student equipment manager back at North Carolina State in 1999, the concept of equipment management software was still in its infancy. Nothing really existed for equipment managers to organize football program inventory other than Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word or pen-and-paper.
“It was just really time consuming entering all that that data,” says Case, who is currently associate athletic director for internal operations at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. “If a guy changed sizes or changed helmets and whatever it was, having to go in there and delete that and enter in the new information, it was tedious. You could spend a whole day sitting at the computer just entering in stuff.”
Case started to notice a change in around 2007, when he was working for Baylor University.
“We started using ACS, which is now Front Rush,” he says. “As the years have gone on, the software has gotten a lot better, more geared toward the tools equipment managers need, having the ability to add features, that sort of thing.”
A dozen years later, the improvement in equipment management software hasn’t declined, which is great, because the need to manage more and more equipment assets for the football program has only grown.
For football coaches and equipment managers, understanding the role a solid software system can play in your program is paramount. Quality equipment management software can mean the difference between staying streamlined as an organization, and continuing to spend days in front of the computer, building ad-hoc systems in software programs that weren’t designed to support the demands of today’s football program.
With today’s equipment demands, quality software systems will organize equipment using barcodes. That equipment is then automatically organized in a database that is up-to-date and accurate in real time.
“We have a handheld scanner that we can basically have anywhere in the equipment room,” says Case. “When this type of software was first getting started, we had to input all the data, and check in and check out equipment, sitting at a desktop computer. Now, we have that handheld scanner sitting at the issue window or back in the Spacesaver with us when we’re checking in items or checking out items. We can scan that barcode and it immediately takes that inventory out and checks it out to the guy that you’re issuing the equipment to.”
Though it isn’t really incorporated into the software solution itself, the Spacesaver high-density storage that Miami uses is integral to functioning of equipment room. Case says his “Spacesavers” and the software are linked because he customizes the storage system to how he uses his software.
“Having all the apparel and equipment stored in a nice easy fashion, we can put the barcode on the shelf, so that if we go to check out the T-shirt, that barcode is right there,” says Case. “We just scan it with the scanner, and it gets checked out to whoever we scan it out to. It’s best to have that level organization with your apparel, to know where everything is located, just to be able to take that scanner where you need to grab that shirt or helmet or whatever. We scan it out and we’re done. It’s very simple.”
After equipment managers do the work of inputting all their equipment and apparel into a software system, they find that visibility into their entire operation improves dramatically.
“We can use the data when we’re making our orders out in the fall,” says Case. “Items that carry over, we can just check online and see how much we have in inventory. We can alter our orders that we’re doing for the following season based off that. Also, if the university’s outside audit people come in, they can get an easy snapshot of what we have in here, what’s been checked out, and what’s going on with equipment and apparel. It makes it transparent for a lot of interested people.
Across college athletics, more programs will soon be faced with tracking apparel to full-time staff and coaches for the purposes of taxation. Utilizing equipment management software has allowed Case to get a head start on tracking the taxation aspect of equipment management before the federal government starts demanding that schools recognize apparel as income.
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“For full-time staff or coaches that we check out apparel to, we have a running list of the apparel they received,” says Case. “Each quarter, we can print out that list and it calculates the value of the apparel those coaches received. Many schools have started doing this. The IRS asked, for the apparel we all receive from adidas, Nike or Under Armour, they asked why we weren’t taxing it. It’ll likely be something everyone has to deal with down the road, so our university decided that was something they wanted to get ahead of. We implemented that last year.”
One of the primary reasons to implement a software solution in any organization is to improve overall visibility for those who manage it. It’s no different for equipment managers. For the entire lifecycle of a given product, Case now has real visibility into everything from ordering through issuing.
“The good thing for us with our equipment management software is we can upload all of our players’ and staff’s sizes in there,” says Case. “The software gives us the ability, if we’re handing out a travel suit, we can click a couple buttons and we’ve got a list of exactly how many sizes of each item we need and who it goes to. And then once we check those items out, we can see how much we still have left on the shelf. If it’s an item that we use a lot, we can look and say, ‘Oh, we’re running low on this item here in this size,’ and we can order more to fill in on that.
“Bottom line, these solutions really give us that ability to see what’s on our shelves without having to go out to the shelf and physically count everything. It just basically helps us save time, because nowadays in college football, our time is so valuable each and every day. This has helped streamline everything we do.”
This article was written by Paul Markgraff, managing editor of AFCA Magazine.
SPACESAVER: A GAME-CHANGER IN FOOTBALL EQUIPMENT STORAGE
When you’re building a football program, you want your focus to be on developing athletes, not on digging for equipment, uniforms, and supplies. No matter what your team’s current storage situation is like, Spacesaver can help you get your equipment organized and protected – without breaking your budget.