There are obvious benefits from implementing and maintaining a record and control over assets. Savings can be obtained from being able to both see current asset deployment and thereby maximizing their use. Monitoring assets will reduce unauthorized use or misappropriation and insure employees leaving a firm return assets under their control. In some cases a system is mandated by government regulations, terms of lending, public grant terms, insurance terms etc. One person can maintain and manage all fixed assets of a business if they have software to assist them. Computer systems and software available reduce complexity, save time and prevent mistakes. Why use an asset management software program?
While paper and pencil methods can be used, software programs assist in the recording, maintenance and auditing of assets. This saves time and gives a clearer picture of assets since sorting and viewing in different ways is quick and easy.
The most basic ‘solution’ would be using a spreadsheet program such as excel. Even after migrating to software specifically designed for asset management there are times that a spreadsheet program may continue to be useful.
What is an Asset?
What you call an asset often depends upon your business activities. The first thing that comes to mind is fixed assets such as computers, production equipment, office furnishings etc. You might even wish to consider employees as assets or even service and maintenance contracts. A flexible asset management software program can provide a way to track many things most of us would not consider to be assets.
What are my first steps in setting up a system or ‘solution’?
1: Decide what assets will be managed.
The more assets the more work in setting up your system. Limiting assets to only those over a certain dollar value is a good idea.
2: Deciding what characteristics of assets it is important to record within the software.
Your choices will not only have an effect upon the amount of work required but also the extent to which you can manipulate and view asset information by sorting on asset information field or combination of fields.
For example if you setup a field for ‘location’ then you can sort data to see what assets are in each location. If you also have a field for ‘type’ or ‘class’ then you could further sort and display to show only certain types of assets such as computers at one or more location.
As in every aspect of life one has to make tough choices between what is ideal and what is feasible. Your choices will have an effect upon data entry when new assets arrive as well as collecting information about existing assets. Choices you make will also have a bearing upon your choice of software since some may not handle everything you want. One such a limitation is found within the AssetTrakker Pro software program. TrackitSoftware does not provide a method of tracking depreciation because it was felt this added too much complexity requiring the collecting and maintaining of a lot more data. Additionally, they felt, handling depreciation requires superior knowledge of government rules and regulations beyond the expertise of the very people that stand to benefit most from asset management. Accounting departments already calculate and account for depreciation.
By now you have a good idea of what asset information you want to track. Before looking at the various software packages available you should consider how many people will be entering data and how many will be accessing the data. For a smaller organization it is likely that just one person will be involved but in larger firms perhaps a number will wish to participate. Your situation could require purchasing more than one software license and the software must support multiple users.
Use a Barcode Scanner?
A barcode scanner can be used to speed data entry and auditing. This will add to the cost and most lower priced software packages offer limited support for barcode scanners. If properly incorporated into software a scanner can provide excellent value and save a lot of time, particularly for annual audit purposes.
A laser scanner with internal memory, as well as an input screen and keys, means that after scanning a barcode you can add additional information. These are more expensive and again their use has to be integrated into your management software. While prices are coming down you are looking at units in the pocket pc price range plus scanner cost. It is usual for software utilizing these units to also, for some reason, be priced higher.
Asset Management Software
The range of prices for asset management software is $200 to $10,000 and all require you to do the entry of existing asset data as well as some setting up for your requirements. Some offer telephone advice at additional cost but hands on assistance only comes with expensive packages (this level of software requires expensive sales force and marketing expense so perhaps their price, for the features provided, may seem high).
Purchasing Criteria a lot of people seem to use:
- Ease of implementation of system
- Ease of use
- Ability to fit the business
- Potential to handle growth
Nuts and Bolts
Gathering your Asset Information How you perform this step depends upon your situation. In our discussion below we assume you do not have existing asset information, in an existing excel spreadsheet or other format. If you do then you would save work by export/importing that data into your asset management software.
Starting your Asset Listing and Numbering from Scratch
This is an advantage because you are not limited by inherited constraints. Of course it is more work, as you cannot just load in existing asset information but have to collect everything yourself.
Collecting asset information is time consuming. Getting this information accurately, with as little work as possible is important. Thinking about how to do the job and planning will help make this big job easier.
Now sit back and enjoy how easy it is to administer your asset