Choosing an Equipment Management System

How to Choose an Equipment Management System

Balance your needs and constraints to find the right system for you.

Deciding to incorporate an asset management system into your organization’s business process is an important step towards controlling your assets and driving significant cost savings.

When evaluating and purchasing the right equipment management software for your company, it’s important to understand both the demands of your organization and the benefits of such software.

That’s why we have created this guide to provide the essential information you need to make the most informed decision.

This guide presents the advantages of implementing an asset management system into any business model.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Create an effective deployment plan
  • Ask the right questions
  • Identify potential challenges

We strongly believe that consumers should have the necessary information to make informed decisions regarding an asset management system.

Understanding Asset Management Software

Successful asset management is just as much a business practice as it is an automated software process.

Mastering the business aspect of asset management ensures that staff-members can leverage an understanding of how property is used, where it is used and how much it is worth.

A good asset management solution creates value for your business by increasing the efficiency of asset usage and resource management.

Simply put, an effective asset management process makes it easier for everyone to do their jobs.

Common goals for enterprise asset management systems are:

  • Reduce time spent searching for items.
  • Increase the efficiency of the entire staff
  • Provide value-added services such as fleet tracking using GPS/GPRS RFID tags, data center tracking using active RFID tags, asset movement tracking, and locating computer, audio, and video equipment.
  • Avoid management and employee frustration resulting from lost equipment and from time-consuming inventory processes that have to be repeated each year.

A robust, yet cost-effective visual asset management system effectively automates these management tasks, improving staff accountability and driving productivity.

Productivity is improved by eliminating duplicated process and centralizing asset information on a singular database, accessible by all departments.

Efficient asset management services provide staff members with the tools necessary to quickly and easily capitalize on the organization’s assets and resources – maximizing productivity.

Asset Management best practices will achieve:

  1. Reduced capital and expense purchases
  2. Reduced depreciation expenses
  3. Increase profits from the sale of excess idle equipment
  4. Reduced repair and calibration expenses
  5. Reduced material and parts costs
  6. Reduced inventory expenses
  7. Improved personnel productivity improvements
  8. Reduced calibration and maintenance cycle times
  9. Reduced calibration and maintenance square footage and cost requirements
  10. Reduced audit non-compliance risk
  11. Reduced production stoppage risk by ensuring the right assets will be in place when needed
  12. Reduced training expense and operating costs through the implementation of standardized asset management business process best practices

Getting Started

Most organizations require that a business case be developed before making any new asset management system purchase. Thus, identifying and justifying the numerous ways your company will receive value from a fixed asset management software is of paramount importance.

Developing the business case for asset management software requires the background information to help clearly identify the need and justify the expenditure in order to fully demonstrate the value of fixed asset software to your organization. This starts by establishing your fixed asset management goals.

Define Goals

It is important for your organization’s entire staff to have a unified and thorough understanding of both the goals and expectations for your asset management software. To accomplish this you will need to identify both management’s and the staffs’ objectives are with regard to assets and resources.

Evaluate Your Current Process

Talk with employees and end-users that work directly with your company’s fixed assets, mobile assets and IT assets to determine how the current process impacts their work and productivity.

Find out their opinions on the current way of inventorying assets and resources. Ask if they can identify what can be improved upon.

By identifying what is working and what is not, you will be in a better position to determine your needs and develop an implementation plan that will be very close to your team’s ideal process.

Next, catalog all the asset databases (desktop, server, spreadsheet, etc.) that are in use in your company. Try to get the number of hours spent maintaining these databases.

Third, catalog your inventory tracking processes. When are assets ordered? When are they audited? When are they retired?

Towards this end, you want to gather the number of hours charged in your timekeeping system (or administrative overhead) when these processes are followed.

If these processes are documented, catalog the steps that are followed to determine the degree of duplication that occurs when similar processes are followed.

Ask the Right (but Hard) Questions

You’ll make a wiser asset management software choice simply by answering a few key questions.

Examine some of the challenges your organization is currently dealing with, for example, the time and effort it takes to find out what and when audio/video equipment is available, and then communicating with the relevant people to ensure those requested resources will be provided.

It’s important to understand all the benefits of a well-run, proactive asset management process.

While each organization is unique, a “Yes” answer to the following questions indicates the degree of maturity of an asset management process:

  1. Can you locate all of your company’s assets and document them in a concise report within one-hour?
  2. Can you determine, with certainty, which offices in your building are vacant and the configuration or floor plan of these offices within one-hour?
  3. Do you know the value of asset depreciation for your company’s assets by category and usage compared to the property tax? Are you paying too much tax? Are you paying too little tax?
  4. What is the replacement value of all of your company assets within a single building? If that building were lost, do you have sufficient insurance documentation for those fixed assets?
  5. What fixed assets, mobile assets and IT assets are underutilized? What fixed assets, mobile assets and IT assets are over utilized? Do you know what spare assets you have? Before purchasing new assets, is this spare information accurate enough to curb new purchases? In short, do you have an asset life cycle management process in place?
  6. Can staff-members generate a report to management regarding all of the fixed assets on a leasing schedule by location and use?
  7. Can staff-members generation reports detailing the location of specific items without having to leave their desk to search for that item? How long does an inventory search take?
  8. How many hours does your inventory management process take?  Have you ever completed a total inventory of all property owned by your organization?
  9. How many different processes and procedures exist within each department of your company to track the fixed assets, mobile assets and IT assets of your organization? Are these processes duplicated at each department, or do different processes exist to accomplish the same goal?
  10. How many different departmental databases and spreadsheets exist to track property within the department? How accurate are these databases and spreadsheets? How often are they updated? Who maintains them? How many hours are used to maintain these separate spreadsheets?

These questions may be quite difficult to answer and could expose some serious flaws in your fixed asset management process.

However, after identifying your goals and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your current asset management process, your organization will be primed to make an informed decision when purchasing asset management software.

Using these guidelines, you can create a substantial blueprint for your asset management needs and choose the right kind of system for you.

Understanding the Essential Components of Asset Management Solutions 

Simply put, asset management software increases the efficiency of fixed asset and mobile asset management.

Such software platforms are designed to increase the productivity of the entire staff from administration teams to facilities management personnel and everyone in between.

Fixed asset management software is particularly useful for:

  • Information systems management
  • Audio/video/test equipment management
  • Facilities management
  • Employee management

By better understanding the key areas of an asset management system and the varying ways it can help your organization, you will be better able to convey those benefits to your decision maker.

The following describes the core components of a solid asset management solution.

Unified System

To eliminate double processes, duplicated databases and other related problems, organizations typically desire a unified system.

In a unified system, all asset information is consolidated into a single database so that conflicting inventory requests can be immediately detected, double-processes can be avoided and all the constituent elements of facilities – rooms, assets, and furniture – can be kept in synch.

To reduce the cost of conducting a large inventory, the database must be “transactional” in that any movement of fixed assets within the company or outside of the company is recorded in the database.

The inventory at the end of a year or mid-year should only occur with items that have not been touched by a “transaction.”

Universal Access

To accommodate all the constituent users, the asset management system must accommodate employees accessing the central system (i.e. those employees who are responsible for viewing assets and their availability, and then submitting requests for using or ordering those resources.)

This means the system may need to be accessible to a wide range of users at numerous locations. 

A robust asset management system will meet this need by providing a range of interfaces – enabling access via PC desktop, Web, and even handheld barcode scanners or RFID readers.

Powerful Searches

To encourage employee efficiency, productivity and accountability, you will need to reduce the amount of time they spend in locating assets and requesting reservations.

Effective asset management software accomplishes this through a powerful search protocol. For example, an asset management solution should allow its users to search for an asset based through a range of different features such as the fixed asset’s size/capacity, location, lease information, etc.

Automated Notifications

RFID notifications allow users to update asset locations, report changes to locations and prevent unnecessary tampering.

A robust asset management solution gives you the tools to:

  • Encourage fixed asset accuracy and accountability through improving the communication process
  • Quickly locate the asset at its most current location
  • Automatically send daily reports of fixed assets that are added into the system, fixed assets that have been retired or location history
  • Easily alert staff of assets that have been checked out for use, due to be checked back in, or are overdue.

Robust Reporting

Reliable asset reporting capabilities are they key to helping your organization manage its resources efficiently. When considering an asset management platform, look for tools that:

  • Quickly identify what resources are being used most often or not at all, allowing you to take any necessary actions regarding equipment inventory and/or depreciation
  • Create reports that show the usage of equipment by category or class of user
  • Have the supporting data needed for additional resource purchase requests

Consider Implementation Time 

The speed at which software systems can be functional will directly impact the bottom line cost to the organization. The benefits of a highly sophisticated and complex scheduling system can be easily offset by the additional time and money it takes to customize and implement the system.

Look for a system that is easily deployed “out-of-the-box” and that does not require significant customization. These systems allow your organization to start experiencing the benefits almost immediately.