For an individual counting of items in their pocket is easy, they simply can empty them on the table and can count what was inside; similarly, for a tiny or small enterprise, a simple walk around can tell them what they have.
Now when such micro small enterprise has a larger location the number of assets increases and it takes much more effort than a simple walk. They do it on paper counting what things are kept where.
But for a medium-large enterprise, tracking of assets takes furthermore efforts. Paper writing is not sufficient, spreadsheets help in creating columns and rows of all their types of assets. Adding more locations adds more assets and makes the process further complexed.
So, when the scale was low – what was easier like a walkthrough, or writing on paper or entering in a spreadsheet; becomes a real pain in the neck of all the departments as the scale grows.
An Asset would require numerous attributes to be related to it. First of the nature or type of the Asset which can be addressed as a Category. Then comes the difficult part of what current geographic area the Asset is at, which can be addressed as a Location. Assets require human interaction, who are linked to it either for usage or maintenance, they are addressed as Users. In an organization the users work as per role, this can be addressed as Department.
Tracking covers various aspects – it tells which category of Asset is located at what current location and is allocated to which user under which department. It can also capture other fields as well, the usage status, the condition, the past location and users, any expenses incurred earlier.
The term multiple has a multiplier effect, it magnifies the issues of spreadsheet or manual based tracking habits of organizations. The challenge of tracking assets at one location becomes an unfruitful proposition when multiple locations are added.
Assets require some unique identification which would enable trackability. Such unique identification can be in the form of an Asset Code which further can be used for creating a machine-readable tag. This gives an automated approach to handling Assets.
Tracking gains more importance for organizations having multi locations where each of these locations has multiple numbers of Assets, they all need to be tracked for either accounting, verification or maintenance purposes.
Each stakeholder department has specific utility from tracking. The administration wants to know who has what and it’s kept where. Finance wants to know what was bought when and at what rate, operations wants to know who has what and in how much quantity. Management wants to know what was bought for whom and where it is.
Tracking begins with first defining a track, what category of Asset was at which Location, allocated to which user, having which status and what condition. Then comes the role of punching every change in the system so that a historic log is created. Such historic log has to be searchable using multiple filter fields for taking the true essence of tracking.
Tracking at multiple locations gains more importance when one location can act as fulfillment or replacement venue for the other location. It has to be known accurately such that when the need is correct details are fetched.
People dependent method of tracking rots the crux of a healthy organization. Multiple locations act as little fiefdoms where at the mercy of the record keeper the Assets are placed. This practice leads to under or non-utilisation of Assets, encourages pilferage, partiality in terms of Asset allocation, parallel system of management and other unethical practices. When such people move positions or leave the organization the hidden treasure of Asset Tracking goes with them.
Tracking does not cost much, nor does it require huge manpower or efforts. All it takes a multi-location organization to track efficiently is a system preferably in the cloud which is offering such tracking features which if the organization adopts all its house would be in order. It’ll be able to build reports, extract data in spreadsheet format and would be able to ingrain that into the organization’s day to day working. Such that the practices of allocations are through the system which creates a transparent environment for everyone.
On a humorous note, those professionals who are averting to a system based tracks are the ones who are encouraging malpractices by making the process and data hidden. The management should keep in mind that nothing is above the well-being of the organization, and such system based Asset tracking roots out all evil which has been happening at each location.