The eleven steps putlined below can apply to property accounting systems of all sizes, from a basic manual record keeping system to a large computerized information system!.
Identify the general needs of the agency for ‘property information .
These needs should not be defined inierms of the information people say they want, but in terms of the ways tj\ey will use the information. When potential users of the information must describe specific uses for it, the tendency to collect unnecessary infor- 4 mation just because it is “nice to have” is minimized.
Define the type of propetty accounting system(s) needed.
At this point, the LEA may decide , to develop a system that, for the present, satisfies only a part of its total property information needs. This approach may save time and money in the short run, while offering the LEA staff a more practical goal to accomplish. Many LEA’s begin by working exclusively with equipment, or perhaps only buildings. Each system will fiave its own special reports and data requirements, depending on the type of property with which it deals. If planned properly, such a system can be expanded in the future with little redesign of the original records and reports.
Identify specific’ data needs.
Based on steps 1 and 2, determine the specific items of data that should be col-. lected. Define each data item so that all users will have a common understanding of Ac each data item. Handbook IIIR should provide most of the pertinent definitiOns required
Review all existing andvioned documents
containing property data
Identify all property data that are currently being collected or are on file. Determine where the data come frooi, how often they are collected, and how they are defined. Examine any documents in the planning stage, determkning the same information. Comparis n of,these findings with the generat data needs.determined in steps I, 2, and 3 will guide The LEA in deciding collection.
Identify the sources of the required data and confirm that the data are available in the fora and quantity needed
If certain types of data are unavailable or impractical to collect or maintain in the forritIquired, steps 1 through 3 should be recycled to consider these data-availability problems and to develop alternatives.
Develop data-collection fora-. and procedures
These forms should be easy to understand, easy to fill in, and easy to process. If these forms will also be used to *store the data, they should be easy to maintain and update, These forms should be tested in several trial runs before they are approved.
Develop the procedures for handling, processing, and distributing the data.
This activity may be minimal for those LEA’s having a manual property accounting system (no computer or accounting machtes involved). In this case, the data forms developed in step 5 may also be the forms on which the, datk are stored and ‘distributed. Computer-based property accounting systems will typically go through a mlich more lengthy process, including developing data handling procedures, data-processing programs, and output prog
Train all individuals responsible for supplying data, analyzing data, or compiling reports.
The purpose of this step is to insure thaLall peksonnel who acquire new responsibilities -, related to the property accounting system have an opportunity to _prepare for these responsibilities. It also provides an opportunity to familiarize staff members with any new terms or definitions adopted from thehandbook.
Test the new ‘property accounting system
Conduct a trial run involving all methods, procedures,_ materials, and people in the new system from collecting the data (dummy data can be used)’to compiling and interpreting reports. This is an opportunity to identify and correct problems, remove unnecessary data items, and add missing_ data items.
Implement the property accounting system
Once tie trial run has been completed and necess improvemdnts in the system made, the system is now ready for full operation. Make- the transfer from the old system (if any) to the new in a deliberate and careful manner. If appropriate, utilize the old and new systems concurrently until the new system is effectively installed.
Look continuously for ways to improve the system.
Keep records up to date at all times. Be prompt in forWarding requested information to others. Encourage all who operate or are served by the inforrhation system to evaluate its performance continuously. In this way, it can be improved from time to time.