Asset Tracking Basics for Small Business

Do you know what your assets are up to?

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All businesses have assets. An asset is anything of monetary value the business owns, which can be both tangible and intangible. Asset tracking, also known as asset management, is used to track your physical assets. 

Managing your assets is just as crucial as inventory management because you need to know the status, location, maintenance schedule, and other information related to your company’s physical assets. Missing equipment and improperly maintained equipment can wreak havoc on compliance and profits, as you are responsible for finding and replacing any lost or missing physical assets, including any that have reached the end of their lifecycle.

How Assets Are Tracked

Physical assets can be tracked multiple ways, from bar codes, serial numbers, lot numbers, or revision numbers. Asset tags are attached to each piece of equipment that needs to be tracked. It’s also possible to use RFID and GPS to broadcast location to ensure physical assets are where they are supposed to be. 

Asset tags serve as the foundation of all effective asset tracking systems. The tags allow organizations to record and monitor where assets are as they move through the organization and are helpful in automating data collection about asset utilization, documentation, maintenance, and repair tracking.

Asset tags are valuable in loss prevention, too, as they ensure disgruntled staff cannot leave the company with office equipment or other high-value items. Since assets among departments may be shared across the entire organization, asset tags safeguard against loss.

There are a variety of asset tags to choose from, depending on your needs. Many are designed for specific applications where durability is required and theft-prevention is a priority. Options include:

  • Metal asset tags: commonly used with outdoor assets exposed to the elements and indoor assets that need durability.
  • Tamper-evident tags for additional security
  • Barcode labels
  • Two-part labels for simplified record-keeping and reordering
  • Foil asset tags: often used on high-value equipment to ensure security, durability, and readability throughout its lifespan

Assets are tracked by first applying tags to all the assets the organization needs to keep track of. The tags are correlated with the necessary information about the asset—description, purchase date, lifecycle end date, serial number, and so on. This ensures one a tag is scanned, the pertinent information about it is quickly and easily accessible.

Asset Tagging Benefits for Small Business

Whatever tagging system you use, you’ll gain a lot of benefits for your organization with a sound tracking system.

  • Improve organizational efficiency and cut costs
  • Locate assets at any time, in real time
  • Improved asset utilization 
  • Reduced asset loss
  • Lower administrative costs because assets don’t need to be manually tracked and located
  • Meet any regulatory compliance in your industry
  • Better organization of company’s physical space since it is easier to identify which items are accessed together, allowing you to create a better structure for your physical system
  • Scale your asset tracking as company growth dictates

How to Set Up Asset Tracking

Before you can choose the best asset tracking solution for your needs, consider the types of assets you want to manage—and why.

What are you trying to accomplish with the change? Are there organizational structures the system will need to fit into? Consider whether or not the cost of implementing your asset tracking system would be more than the value it will add to your business.

Choose a software solution that will accommodate the various types of assets. Ensure your goals can be achieved through implementing the software you select. Reputable solutions include Sage Fixed Assets, IBM Maximo, and Fixed Assets CS.

Setting up the asset tracking will require you to perform an inventory, attach the necessary inventory tags, and log any information you wish to track, along with its current status and location. After the initial setup is complete, track assets as they come into the company. Take care to eliminate any ghost assets, or those that are lost, stolen, or unusable that may still be listed as active in the system.

Though the process of selecting and implementing an asset tracking system in your organization may present a headache in the beginning, as the business grows, you’ll appreciate the ease of tracking and locating assets, along with the benefits it offers in the long run.