How to Track Assets in a Digital World
A hundred years ago, businesses tracked their assets in notebooks and ledgers— if they tracked them at all. While the inventory that businesses actually sell to customers has always been carefully tracked with inventory management systems, organizations haven’t always been as good at tracking assets they use on a regular basis. If you ask someone how to track assets the right way, you’ll get a wide range of answers.
So how do many companies track their assets today? Well, they’re essentially still using notebooks and ledgers— except now they’re on computers, and we call them spreadsheets. But the truth is that this approach isn’t any more ‘modern’ or effective than paper records.
As a result, both large and small businesses have begun moving onto digital asset tracking platforms. These asset tracking solutions are transforming the way businesses track their assets for the better, and helping them be more efficient, effective, and profitable along the way.
What is Asset Tracking?
In simple terms, asset tracking is basically what it sounds like— the process and technologies used to identify where physical assets are at a given time. In practice, digitally tracking your assets and figuring out how to track assets the right way can get a lot more complicated.
Sure, these asset tracking apps use a lot of the same core technologies. Barcodes or QR codes are some of the most common ways of getting the job done, allowing easy lookups of warranty information, last scanned location, or the party that most recently checked out an asset.
But there are two sides to digital asset tracking— how the items are tracked, and how that information is customized, shared, recorded, and used by the humans whose businesses depend on those assets. The difference in effectiveness of asset tracking solutions really comes down to how they manage both sides of the equation.
Almost all of the leading asset tracking apps do just fine at the first part. Technology has advanced so much that using barcodes or QR codes to track items is simple.
But when it comes to how that information is presented and used by the assets’ owners, things can become a bit more challenging.
Why? Because one asset is different from another asset.
Sure, this might seem like it goes without saying. But think of it this way: Imagine you’re a company whose inventory management requires you to track a large number of small, easily moved and stored items, like books. The way you track them and report on them would be dramatically different from the way a company tracks something large and complex to move and store, like dinosaur fossils.
So if you’re wondering how to track assets, the better question is how to track your assets. To answer that question, it’s important to recognize the difference between asset tracking that works and asset tracking that doesn’t.
Asset Tracking: Capability vs. Usability
To understand the difference between asset tracking that works and asset tracking that doesn’t, think about the navigation app on your smartphone.
The GPS tracking that your phone is built on is extremely advanced. It uses satellites and the most cutting-edge location technology and data available to know exactly where you are— and where everything else in the world is, too. All of this technology makes up the app’s capability.
But on a given day, you don’t need to know where everything in the world is at any given moment. You need to know a specific piece of information— like how to get from where you are now to the ice cream shop in the next town over. Or how to get home when you get lost on an evening jog. How good is your app at giving you the info you need quickly and easily? That’s its usability.
What makes that map application on your phone effective isn’t what it knows, it’s how it uses what it knows to give you exactly the information you need, exactly when you need it. The best apps let you search for things on your route, save frequently used locations, and other functions that customize the experience to be exactly what you need from it. The directions you need to get around your city and home are different from what someone in another city with a different lifestyle needs.
Digital asset tracking is the same. One business may need to track straightforward items, like plastic crates. But what if you need to track prairie chickens, or decommissioned World War II-era munitions? (These are both real assets that Asset Panda users have tracked). A one-size-fits-all approach to how that data is reported and set up isn’t going to do the job.
How do you know that a digital tracking platform knows how to track assets? Look at what it can do for your business.
Benefits of Effective Digital Asset Tracking
When a digital asset tracking platform excels, it doesn’t just make it easier to find the things your business owns. It makes your business more efficient, more effective, and more profitable. After all, the digital platforms and automation we bring into our workplaces aren’t meant to replace people. The best asset tracking platforms free up time and creative energy so that people can do what they do best— come up with creative solutions to problems and help their businesses grow.
Wondering how to track assets in a way that will help your business grow? Ask whether your current approach to asset tracking helps accomplish the following goals.
Aside from the reduction in waste that comes from improved asset tracking, better tracking can actually increase your revenue in many cases.
Consider if you’re a company that rents your assets. Effective digital asset tracking can help ensure that assets being used by customers or present at customer facilities are being recorded as active rentals, helping increase your rental revenues and avoid missed opportunities for earnings.
Reduces Wasted Time
No one has ever manually managed a spreadsheet and thought, “Wow, it’s amazing how fast this process is!”
Log books and spreadsheets are time-intensive, frustrating, and not easy to share and track across multiple assets, departments, and organizations. What if you could virtually eliminate your data collection time, as well as the time you spend organizing, reporting, and searching through your records?
That’s the power of effective digital asset tracking. It reduces or eliminates the tasks that the creative, innovative people at your company shouldn’t have to do, so they can get back to being creative and innovative and growing your company.
If you’re a person on your way to the gym but you have to turn around because you forgot your keys, wasted time is just a nuisance. If you’re a business, wasted time means lost earnings and missed opportunities.
Earns You More Customers (And Makes Existing Customers Love You)
Companies without effective asset tracking systems in place will inevitably run into efficiency problems, lost items, and delays. The result? Frustrated customers. Not only do those customers have the potential to become former customers, but they will stop being ambassadors for your business. Companies with outstanding asset management and efficient operations pass those benefits on to customers, and those customers want to share their amazing experience with the world. That means more business for you.
Eventually, you can even make your fantastic asset tracking system a part of your sales and marketing efforts.
Future-Proofs Your Business
Let’s say you’re a small business with a limited amount of IT asset management needs. You use a basic spreadsheet system, because for the small number of assets you regularly deal with, that manual process works just fine. If you’re one of those companies who really wants to stay at the exact size they are now and never experience any growth, this will continue to work fine for you.
Unfortunately, we’ve never met any of those companies. If you’re focused on growth, that spreadsheet isn’t going to serve you when you’ve doubled or tripled in size.
Keeps You Compliant
Every company has rules for reporting, tracking, storing, and managing assets. Having customizable digital records that can instantly generate reports and track when reports are completed makes staying compliant with those rules easier— and less time-intensive.
If you’re a company that’s subject to government or industry regulations, the importance of compliance tracking and reporting becomes even more important. Your tracking can also help you achieve certifications that give more legitimacy to your business and asset tracking capabilities, such as AIB certification for some industries.
Adjusts to Fit Your Unique Needs
We’ve already mentioned how different items should be tracked and reported differently. But why exactly is that the case?
Let’s compare two real-world examples of the unique ways that organizations can configure Asset Panda based on their needs.
The first organization is a local department of first responders. When it comes to their gear, it doesn’t just matter where it is. It also matters what condition it’s in. Equipment failure can literally mean life or death. They need full visibility into things like replacement schedules for fire gear, testing results for fire hoses, and equipment histories that help inform future decisions about which gear is still usable and which needs to be cycled out. The bottom line: you never know when equipment will be needed and where, so it must always be ready.
Now let’s look at a different organization: a construction company. Your assets are spread across multiple job sites with constantly changing schedules. You don’t have time to look for a tool or call around to different job sites. When you glance down at your mobile asset tracking application, you should be able to get a full picture of every job site, who’s accountable for which assets at a given time, and where a tool needs to be next.
Whatever your business, you should be able to decide what info your asset tracking platform presents to you and tailor how it’s presented for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
Controls Permissions Easily
Not everyone needs or should have access to the full scope of your asset tracking system. That’s why your platform should offer configurable user templates, which allow you to define roles based on the way your teams interact with your asset tracking platform. This helps protect sensitive data, improve accountability across your organization and maximize efficiency when tracking your assets across multiple teams and orgs.
Identifies and Fixes Errors
Before partnering with Asset Panda, one client was experiencing significant and frequent errors in their manual tracking process. They were losing assets and getting ‘completely blindsided’ by unexpected and costly repairs, because their manual system had missing maintenance dates.
After switching to Asset Panda, they now estimate they save as much as eight hours every day in total costs as a result of not having to rely on outdated or incomplete data.
The best asset management tools provide real savings by avoiding costly mistakes and making the day to day operations of your business more efficient.
Simplifies Customer Disputes
If you’re a customer-obsessed business, and research shows that many of the most successful companies are, you’re probably eager to keep unpleasant customer disputes to a minimum. Those disputes often arise because there’s a disagreement about the facts of where items are, where they’ve been, and when.
With a digital asset tracking platform that lets you call up exactly the information you need, when you need it, these disputes can often be avoided completely. When they do occur, they can be resolved faster than ever because the relevant data is fast and easy to find and present. It’s not about ‘winning’ disputes with customers. It’s about eliminating disputes and resolving them more clearly, effectively and quickly so that you can keep customers happy and your business productive.
Digital Asset Tracking that Adapts to You
If you’re hesitant to adopt a new asset tracking system because you don’t want to deal with the process of adapting your process, why not choose an asset tracking platform that adapts to you?
Asset Panda is an easy-to-use, powerful asset management software that you can adjust to fit the way you do business. It’s the first truly flexible asset tracking solution that can reshape itself to fit your needs.
Ready to learn more?