5 Common Equipment Inventory Mistakes

In my years as a Certified Personal Property Specialist, I have encountered many types of inventories, in a wide variety of industries. I have found however, that from the Laboratories to the law firms, from the shoe companies to the schools, there are certain pitfalls you need to avoid. Below I have compiled a list of 5 common asset inventory mistakes and how to avoid them.inventory IT assets

Mistake #1: Inventorying Personal Items– A best practice I have found to be very effective to avoid inventorying personal items is stickers. They can be round or square, small or large, and are often used at garage sales and flea markets but they work very well for tagging personal inventory. My suggestion is to hand out a sheet (or half sheet, depending on the size of each location) and instruct your employees to put a sticker on each of their personal items, that way they are not mistakingly barcoded and included in your company inventory.

Mistake #2: Not Being Nosy Enough– When it comes to inventorying, we are not advocating rooting through peoples desk drawers or files, rather encouraging you to open a cabinet or two to make sure there aren’t any items tucked away. Often when a printer or other item isn’t being used, it will get packed up and tucked into a cabinet or closet. Then a while later a new printer is bought and inventoried, but no one remembered there was one in the closet, and that one could have sufficed just as well as a new one, or could be repurposed elsewhere. However, if it isn’t included in your fixed asset inventory, you don’t know you have it and it goes underutilized.

Mistake #3: Trusting yourself– You’re human, and therefore will make mistakes and forget things. When performing an inventory, don’t rely on your memory alone, or trusting yourself alone. Check and recheck your work before you leave a location. Spending an extra minute or two checking your inventory list can save hours of research and recovery time later when you’re not in the location and your memory of the inventory is not as fresh.

Mistake #4: Not Sticking to a Routine– Creating a rhythm, or routine for inventorying is a handy tool to have. I like to enter a location, do a physical count of the assets by my eyes estimation, and then begin tagging assets in a clockwise manner. I move around the room from left to right and top to bottom, inventorying every asset in my line before moving on to others. This helps me establish a pattern that will enable me to return to exactly where I left off. If I am only concentrating on the asset I am inventorying NOW, and not what else needs to be done around me, I am less likely to make mistakes.

Mistake #5: Miscommunication– Not communicating your intent or purpose to others is the best way to fail at an inventory. I always recommend to clients with large sites and a large quantity of locations to inventory, that they utilize as many employees as they can that are familiar with the locations. Sometimes that isn’t possible and temporary employees are brought in. In this case especially, though not exclusively, communication is paramount. I prefer to have a centralized location, like a reception desk or a conference room as a “base camp” and keep a floor plan there. This way locations can be marked off as they are inventoried so no other employee will try to overlap and inventory the same location. Having been a pre-school teacher at one point, I believe in the power of color coding too, but that’s a lesson for another blog.

Please feel free to leave your comments here or join us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to discuss your lessons learned from inventory mistakes. Also, take a look at our website to learn more about Asset Manager Workbench and Mobile Inventory solutions from E-ISG and Psion Teklogix.

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