Choosing an Equipment Management System – Part 2
In Part 1 of this three part guide to choosing the right equipment management system, t I discussed the business implications of implementing cost-efficient asset management software into your organization’s overall-strategy.
To review: successful asset management is just as much a business model as it is an automated software process. Mastering the business aspect of fixed 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. Essentially an effective asset management process makes it easier for everyone to do their jobs. A robust, yet cost-effective visual asset management system automates 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
Now that we’ve established a firm understanding of the practicality of implementing a property management or inventory management into your everyday business practices, it’s time to determine the fixed asset management system that best fits your organization’s demands.
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. We have already discussed a wide-range of these in the last blog-post.
Notable advantages include:
- Reduced capital and expense purchases
- Reduced depreciation expenses
- Improved personnel productivity
- Encourage asset accountability and employee responsibility
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.
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 assets are ordered; when are they audited; and 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. Look back at the list of problem areas on page one to help guide you.
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.
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