Perhaps you already know that having better control of your assets and equipment would save you both time and money. Even so, you haven’t left the starting line and taken that first step. Asset tracking can seem like a big undertaking. Lots of hurdles, concerns, fears. Here are the more common ones we hear, and how you can get past them.
Obstacle #1: Tagging the Assets
One of the most common fears is that it may take a long time to tag all your assets and get them into the system. While this can be accomplished in less than one minute per asset (and even faster in many cases), when you have thousands of assets (or more), it can seem overwhelming.
The Fix: First, don’t assume you have to tag every piece of equipment before you can realize the benefits of an asset tracking system. You don’t have to! You can start getting value by just tracking a few specific types of assets to get started. Perhaps just your most valuable assets. Then you can gradually add more types of assets as you gain experience using the system.
Some companies want to track every fact or attribute of every asset they own. Doing so can really slow you down. Only track the bare minimum you need to drive value at your company. Don’t waste time on the rest.
Finally, you can hire temporary workers to help with the tagging process. Just make sure you train them well and monitor them. Spot check the data entry to catch errors early, identify opportunities for additional training, and avoid having to waste a lot of time later fixing mistakes.
Obstacle #2: Cost
Buying enterprise-class software has traditionally been a painful experience. With asset tracking, you not only have to purchase a tracking system, but all the mobile scanners and tags to go with them. Your IT department may not want to take on the management of more servers and deploying a new class of rugged mobile devices they haven’t had to deal with before.
The Fix: The advent of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has greatly reduced the cost and frustration of rolling out certain classes of enterprise software. With SaaS solutions, you don’t need to add server capacity, manage backups, updates and patches, and all the rest.
Since barcode or RFID scanning is at the heart of an asset tracking system, you need mobile scanners. It used to be that only expensive rugged mobile computers could get the job done. For years, the price of the hardware alone would far exceed the initial cost of an asset tracking system. This left many small-to-midsize companies without an affordable option. Those days are over.
Smartphones and tablets have greatly reduced the cost of adopting an asset tracking system. The capabilities of these devices meet and often exceed those of rugged handhelds. Asset tracking software with applications designed for use on smartphones makes it easier for small-to-midsize companies to take advantage of new opportunities to improve efficiencies, reduce costs and drive more business. You can choose to let your employees use their own phones, or you might already outfit them with one. In either case, you can purchase rugged handhelds for only the employees whose job conditions require a sturdy device.
Obstacle #3: Limited Technical Resources
Taking on a new software implementation project might not be your idea of a good time. Depending on the software, implementation can involve a requirements analysis, a scope analysis, customizations, systems integrations, establishing user policies and user training. If you don’t know much about technology and you don’t have an IT staff, this can be daunting.
The Fix: Your asset tracking system doesn’t necessarily need to integrate with your back office business systems for you to see significant gains in efficiencies and cost savings. Using it as a standalone system can work fine to get started. Some vendors simplify implementation by offering a standardized template with basic tracking functions that easily track asset location, capture electronic signatures, trace lot numbers, manage maintenance, and more. If the vendor offers a smartphone option, the need for technical resources is even less. As you become more comfortable with tracking, you eventually may choose to integrate with your back office software to gain even more efficiencies and cost savings. Finally, be sure to choose software that’s able to grow with you. Software that’s organized in modules makes it easy to deploy only the functionality you need when you’re ready.
Obstacle #4: Lack of Time
You’re busy running your business. You’re dealing with billing issues, resolving customer disputes, managing regulatory compliance and hunting down missing equipment. Who has time to think about making strategic improvements?
The Fix: The very things that are sucking up so much of your valuable time today are the things that a good asset tracking system can eliminate or greatly reduce. Better accuracy and data you can trust from your tracking system will help put those billing issues to bed. Customers who get a glimpse at your tracking system will realize you’ve got your ducks in a row, and disputes will dissipate. Regulatory compliance will “just happen” by virtue of the fact that you know where everything is, at all times. And you’ll never be hunting for available inventory again.
Getting more control over your assets doesn’t have to be a huge mountain to overcome. The important thing is to get started by taking manageable steps. As you begin to make progress, you’ll start seeing results in terms of improved efficiencies and reduced costs. You’ll want to build on your success by extending asset tracking to include all assets and deploying more software features. Taking this incremental approach allows you to handle as much of the process as you’re comfortable with at a given time.