QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Asset Management

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I have been tasked with finding and implementing a solid, yet flexible and functional asset/inventory tracking system for all of the company assets. Computers and other hardware are the big items, of course, but there is also a ton of furniture we need to track.

It seems there are a lot of companies that will print the tags for you (instead of you having your own tag machine to print for yourself), but my boss seems to think we should have our own equipment. I don’t know what I should do.

What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of doing it yourself instead of farming out this function? Also, if I do end up purchasing the software and equipment to do it myself, how should I evaluate my options? Do you have an opinion on best practices for inventory systems of late?

Walt Long
Facilities Manager

TAPE
Kingstowne, VA

This question was originally published in the May 2011 issue of Today’s Facility Manager. Read Elledge’s response here.  Share your feedback and suggestions in the LEAVE A COMMENT section below.

 

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2 Responses
  1. Lewis Hutcheons - BCI says:

    There are a few advantages to printing the tags your self. But it depends on the situation. You need to consider a few things.

    Approximately How many tags will you need.?
    Will the tags need to be replaced often? (This will depend on the environment the tags will be exposed to most likely from the sounds of it the tags will not go through much wear or tear and should last a long time (i.e. a couple years.)

    If you wont have to print tags often and wont have a need to change the label they it might be more cost effective to purchase per-printed labels. It is hard to say which option would be better for your situation.

    As far as software goes. You need to consider what your main business goal is. What are you trying to accomplish. Is there an issue that your current system is not addressing which is then costing the company money. You also need to determine exactly what information you want to track for your assets. What alarms you want in place, how those alarms are utilized and this might lead to other questions.

    You can use a software package that is out there as is or customize it slightly if possible. You could also have a custom application developed specific to your company but that probably is not necessary.

    In general each inventory/ asset tracking system while on the surface looks similar, underneath each is unique. Every system could in fact track different information and communicate to host systems differently. Developing a system is most likely going to be more complex then you initially hoped.

    I hope this information helps.

  2. I think it would help you to develop a comprehensive list of how you intend to benefit from the system. Processes and systems can range from simple and effective complex and overblown. Establish a budget with and ROI and then evaluate existing vendors’ systems against cost of implementing in house or through a software developer. And don’t forget the hidden costs of software upgrades, security, mobility and backup. Consider a SAAS if one exists similar to clearbluebox.com.

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