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How Do I Get Started With Asset Tracking

Barcode Asset Tracking Quick Links:  
  Track My Assets
  Why Use An Asset Tracking System?
  Running a Barcode Asset Program

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.Barcode Assets - Tagging

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:

  • Labels are the most common. Often, assets will come with the serial or control number printed and bar-coded on a tag from the manufacturer. If the label is durable and accessible, you can use the existing label. Most of asset tracking software packages come with the ability to print barcodes. The issue here is how durable the label needs to be.

If the bar code label from the manufacturer (or that you would print out with the asset tracking software) isn't durable enough or the right size, then you can use a specialized barcode printer to do the job. We recommend Zebra barcode printers, as they have a wide variety of stock label sizes and materials with high heat, chemical resistance. They also offer labels with extra adhesive. These aren't good enough for the hand-tool application that we discuss below, but they give you a little better durability.

HINT: Brother P-Touch labeling systems have the ability to print barcodes. Our experience has shown these to be excellent in adhesion and outdoor durability.

  • Use tags for extreme durability applications. If your assets get banged around a lot, then the durability and adhesion of the label is going to be an issue. You may want to use of metal asset tags. Asset Tags are riveted or epoxied to the asset or its case. The tag includes the asset number and any other asset or company information required. A good source for asset tags is MetalCraft,
  • Consider Sequential Asset Numbers, instead of the serial number of the asset. If you attempt to inventory an old asset or receive a new asset into the asset inventory and it doesn't have a tag, you'll have to print one. If you're using the serial number as the key number for the asset in the database, you'll have to print off labels one at a time. Pre-printed labels or tags with sequential numbers can save you a lot of time. You tag the asset, scan in the asset number from the tag with the corded barcode scanner, and enter the rest of the asset information. Most software packages have fields for the asset number and the serial number, so don't worry. You won't be losing anything by using sequential numbers.

You may decide to build your Asset Master List by doing an initial inventory using a portable barcode scanner. In this case, the sequentialBarcode Asset Tag on Monitor 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.
Laptop Barcode for Asset Tracking

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.

  1. Select the Asset Tracking Software - There are a variety of full-featured, inexpensive asset tracking software packages available. It's important to research several different software packages so you understand their features, and which one would best meet your company's needs. Here are some important questions to answer as your review asset tracking software:
    • Does the software database have all the fields for the asset record that I need to track? Make sure that the software has fields in its database for everything you need to record about the asset. For example, if firmware version is important to log about your equipment, make sure the software either has a direct field or a "user defined" field you can use for that information.
    • Does it have an integrated, portable barcode scanner you can use to conduct asset inventories? You'll want to have this ability because it will keep you from having to keep a paper tally of the inventory and keying it into the desktop PC later when you inventory a location. Some asset tracking software doesn't have this ability, so make sure you can at least import a text file of the asset numbers and locations into the asset tracking software.
    • Does the software offer reports on the information that's important to me? It's important that you get information out of the system that is timely and accurate. Make sure that the software offers a wide variety of reports - from asset inventory by location, by department, by class, by maintenance due, etc. Make sure it also lets you design the reports that you want, designating what information you want to appear.
    • Can I install the database on the network? Initially, you may choose to set up the asset tracking program on a stand-alone desktop PC. We recommend that you make sure the software you select allows you to store the database on a network server, so that it can be backed up with the rest of your organization's data. You also want to make sure you can add additional workstations - running at the same time. You may not need this to start out, but its important that the software has the capability in case you grow into needing it.


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 -

            AssetManage - Liberty Street Software (Canada) -

            Visual Asset Manger - NetSimplicity, Inc -

            FixedAssets - RioScan -

            Intellitrack Fixed Assets - Intellitrack, Inc. -


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 .