25 February, 2013
Setting up a professional asset management system is actually quite easy.
- Determine the scope: requirements, budget, available resources
- Research and purchase software application
- Acquire asset tags and optional bar code readers
- Affix asset tags, scan and enter critical asset data
First of all, determine the scope of the system. Are assets simply being tagged with descriptive information? Name, description, location, specifications and to whom the asset is assigned are the most common fields. In such cases an in-house solution might be least expensive, leveraging existing personnel, resources and infrastructure. A web developer can configure a simple system built on a MySQL database and PHP-driven user interface, or use the more robust SQL Server and ASP.NET framework.
Any requirements beyond basic data interaction should necessitate a more professional software application. Most programs are easy to install and come with an array of existing and extra fields, categorization, automated calculations and asset history.
Consider a vehicle purchased at a certain date under specific financial terms. It is under warranty for a limited duration, is serviced regularly by named technicians and assigned to different drivers who increment the odometer daily. While in service this asset requires investment and helps generate revenue. At some point the vehicle is sold or otherwise disposed of. The life and times of this vehicle generate an extensive library of information which might be automatically compiled and utilized simply by scanning the vehicle’s asset tag at each juncture. The ultimate benefit is the asset’s optimal utility and the company’s maximum return on investment.
The asset management software reduces a vast load of work to a series of scan and entries. Many software applications will do this job competently. A simple search will reveal numerous options ranging from cheap or free to many thousands of dollars for the core program and optional modules.
On the relatively inexpensive end, RedBeam Fixed Asset Tracking starts at $695 (single user license) with the ability to track 500 or more assets, up to 15 additional user-defined fields, perform depreciation calculations, and take periodic physical inventories. The mobile version starts at $1795.
IntelliTrack DMS Fixed Asset Tracking doubles the amount of user-defined fields, includes more complex depreciation functions and a greater variety of reports. It starts at $1895 but has built-in mobile and wireless support. If mobility is essential this application should be a serious consideration.
Those two are healthy specimens of basic asset tracking software programs with comparable core feature sets. For larger companies with complicated needs and accommodating budgets an enterprise asset management software solution is recommended. These are feature-rich, modular and mighty scalable.
WiseTrack starts at just over two grand, with more for optional tech support. Its features are numerous and include unlimited fields, asset history, wireless and web-based data capture, broad PDA, PDC and mobile support, extensive reporting and generated forms, and much more.
And then there’s HardCat Asset Tracking. It is quite expensive and many modules cost whopping additional amounts, but the complete suite has just about everything a large organization should ever need.
You can review a comprehensive comparison of these four software applications. Compare prices for different licenses, mobile versions and additional modules on page three, and review a detailed table of features on page four.
Once the software is nailed, deciding on and purchasing a portable data collector, barcode reader or other mobile data collection device will be largely determined by the software and remaining budget.
And finally, laying the foundation for the entire asset management program begins with purchasing and applying asset tags. The best asset tags are aluminum or polyester. They should be affixed where the scanner can easily read the bar code or a human can read the number. Once scanned, the asset manager enters the data related to the asset and the whole system comes together.