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Asset Tracking - How Do I Get Started?
1. Generate a Master List of Assets - You probably have this already, it's a list of all the assets in the organization that you want to track. We recommend setting up the list in Microsoft Excel, so you can import it later into the asset tracking system. The Master List needs to include a unique number for each asset. This can be the serial number assigned by the manufacturer, or a unique number you assign. The Asset Master List needs to include description of what the unique number represents, and any other information that may be pertinent to your business in regard to the individual asset.
NOTE: Make sure you understand the difference between Assets and Inventory. Click here to view and explanation.
2. Obtain Appropriate Asset Labels / Tags with Barcodes - The asset tags that you use will be critical to the operation of the asset tracking system, as they contain the reference number to the information about the asset in the database. You need to make sure that the size and durability of the label are appropriate for the asset you're tagging. Here are some important issues that you need to be aware of:
You may decide to build your Asset Master List by doing an initial inventory using a portable barcode scanner. In this case, the sequential labels or tags will save you a lot of time. You'd place a label on the asset, scan it, scan the location, then enter the description and serial number using the barcoded manufacturer's tag or keying in the serial number. Then enter the description using the key pad on the device.
3. Decide Whether Your Asset Assignments will be Locations based or Employee Based- You'll need to decide how you're going to run the system as far as how the assets are assigned. For example, you may decide that the entire system will be "location based". This means that you will assign assets to locations; like to a room, a building, or a department. Using locations based assignments work well for items that are hard to move, like copying machines, furniture, server racks and other bulky equipment.
For high-dollar, portable assets, you may decide to use "employee based" asset assignments. For example, you may assign tools, laptop computers, monitors and cell phones directly to the employee that will be using them. The idea is to be able to track down a "responsible person" for those assets that were assigned to them but can't be found.
It's perfectly all right to use both methods at the same time. If you think about it, an employee is really just another location. For example, the laptop is in the John Jones location, where John is the person responsible for the security and accountability of the laptop. We've found that making the employee appear financially responsible for the security of high dollar assets to be particularly effective in protecting against loss.
4. Make Barcodes for Locations and / or Employees - If you're going to save time by scanning the asset number, scan the employee or the location as well. This means that everyone checking out assets should have a barcode on their ID badge. If you're going to do mobile asset inventories, each room or office should have a barcode as well.
You can be creative when barcoding employees or locations. You can use a number or characters that relate to the name of the employee or the description of the location. For example, generate a barcode that has "JOHNJONES" or "BLDG47R16" to represent John Jones or Room 16 in Building 47.
Once you select and purchase your asset tracking software, import the Master List of Assets into it from the Excel worksheet. This will set up the software so you don't have to manually type in all the information for each asset. If you have location data in the Master List, you're ready to start logging location changes. But first, you have to make sure everything is tagged.
Here is a list of Asset Tracking software manufacturers that we have experience with, and we recommend:
RedBeam Asset Tracking - RedBeam, Inc - www.redbeam.com
AssetManage - Liberty Street Software (Canada) - www.assetmanage.com
Visual Asset Manger - NetSimplicity, Inc - www.netsimplicity.com
FixedAssets - RioScan - www.rioscan.com
Intellitrack Fixed Assets - Intellitrack, Inc. - www.intellitrack.net
Whew! That was a lot if information. Once you have the software, your tags and your master list, you can see what's required in running a barcode asset tracking system .