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Fixed Asset Management vs Enterprise Asset Management

An older business woman sits at a desk comparing two pieces of paper. Text overlay reads: Fixed Asset Management vs Enterprise Asset Management

Your company just bought this new asset management software. You thought it would make your job easier, but instead, you’re scrambling to find that spare widget. Worse yet, you’re still blind to what happens with a majority of your assets.

You might be surprised to find that you’re not alone. Many businesses invest in asset management software without realizing the types and differences.

Your company may have purchased fixed asset management software when what you really needed was enterprise asset management software. Or maybe you’re using enterprise asset management software when you need fixed asset management software.

These differences might seem like jargon, but they can make the difference between getting software that actually helps and software that just takes up space in the budget.

So let’s break this down. In this post, we’ll explain what fixed asset management is, what enterprise asset management is, and the main differences between the two systems.

What is Fixed Asset Management?

Fixed asset management systems track, well, fixed assets. A fixed asset is an asset that is purchased for long-term use.

Organizations generally set their own definition for what they count as fixed assets, often based on purchase cost or capitalization threshold. It could be $500 or $5000, depending on the business and the regulations it is required to meet.

Fixed asset management systems may manage:

  • Fixed asset cost
  • Depreciation of assets
  • Residual value of assets

What is Enterprise Asset Management?

Enterprise asset management systems manage all assets, regardless of capitalization threshold.

A hand draws the enterprise asset life-cycle on a paper with a marker.

Enterprise asset management systems manage physical and IT assets throughout their life-cycle. This means tracking an asset is continuous, from the time it’s acquired to the time it’s disposed, including any processes in-between.

Enterprise asset management systems may manage:

  • Asset location
  • Chain-of-custody
  • Maintenance and calibration scheduling

Fixed Asset Management vs Enterprise Asset Management: What Are the Main Differences?

Main purpose

There are some important differences in the main purpose these two systems have. Fixed asset management is a finance function, mostly focused on costs and depreciation. Meanwhile, enterprise asset management is an operational function, focused on increasing operational efficiency.

Workflows are built in the enterprise asset management system to support repeatable business processes and rules, such as asset check-in and check-out, asset movement, and asset retirement. These workflows help businesses to streamline operations.

Fixed asset management systems also contain workflows. These workflows are generally centered on accounting processes, such as asset depreciation, market value calculation, and asset disposal. They help businesses to meet audit requirements.

Who’s in charge

Fixed asset management software typically is maintained by the Finance department. Asset users are distributed across the organization, and report important asset information to the Finance department.

Enterprise asset management is often directed by an operational department, such as Facility Management, IT Department, or Logistics. Asset users are often in the same department that maintains the software, although not always.

What assets the software manages

A fixed asset management system, by design, only manages those assets defined as “fixed assets” based on specific cost threshold. This means that all assets under that threshold will not be tracked.

For example, let’s say an organization has a threshold of $1500 for fixed assets. This means their fixed asset management software likely tracks things like computers or forklifts.

However, many small pieces of technology such as printers or consumable assets will not be tracked with a fixed asset management system.

For some businesses, they may only want or need to track costly assets, so a fixed asset management system works well for them. For organizations that need to manage consumables or a large number of assets, an enterprise asset management system may fit better.

Asset location tracking

Fixed asset management software tracks fixed asset location with the goal of meeting accounting standards and regulatory compliance. Enterprise asset management software tracks the location of assets (including those below the capitalization threshold) with the goal of improving efficiency in operations like maintenance.

This means that while both types of software are capable of tracking assets, which you use may depend on your reason for tracking.

For example, Organization A may track a piece of expensive scientific equipment with fixed asset management software because they are responsible for meeting compliance to policies like GSB34 or OMB A-133. They track the equipment with a barcode or RFID tag and inventory it to pass a single audit.

Organization B has the same equipment, but does not need to meet compliance with the policies Organization A does. They use enterprise asset management software to track this equipment because they want to better manage calibration needs and track consumables. They track the equipment with a barcode or RFID tag to enable facilities and other departments to perform more efficiently.

Conclusion

Asset management is perhaps the most misunderstood function in organizations. It also is often a critical neglected source of competitive advantages for businesses.

Now that you understand the difference between fixed asset management and enterprise asset management, you’re more empowered to decide which, if either, is right for you.

By choosing the right asset management software, you can avoid wasted time investing in a solution that’s not for you. And better yet, you can get an upper hand on other businesses who don’t manage their assets.

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