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This Is How The U.S. Army Keeps Track Of Its Assets


How One Of The Largest U.S. Army Posts Successfully Tracks Base Assets

The U.S. Army has to keep track of a lot of assets. There are big ticket items like planes and missiles, firearms, basic IT equipment and computers. It isn't always easy. In 2014, it was reported that, the Department of Defense's Inspector General’s audit for 2013, said that the 401st Army Field Support Brigade "did not report in a timely manner 15,600 pieces of missing equipment valued at approximately $419.5 million." A long-term investigative report by Reuters has found that the Pentagon has many challenges in effectively managing and tracking its assets and can often “spend money on new supplies it doesn't need and on storing others long out of date.” But this isn't a problem for IT assets at Fort Hood, one of the largest U.S. Army posts. They've put in place asset management best practices that ensure they always know the state of their assets. However, this wasn't always the case. Before implementing Wasp MobileAsset, the base was using a manual system that was time-consuming, error prone, and not updated in real-time.

5 Frequent Asset Management Missteps

case-study-image-ft-hoodMany organizations rely on out dated manual asset management techniques that are full of pitfalls. Companies and government agencies that are using spreadsheets and written asset management systems make many of the same mistakes: 1. Use people to enter data - When data is entered manually there will be errors and they will be costly, it is unavoidable. 2. Track assets in a spreadsheet or static database like Access - Tracking assets in a static database that isn't updated in real time means you never really know if your database is up to date and if the assets are where you think they are. 3. Don’t calculate asset depreciation - Using a manual system to track assets makes it more difficult to track them over time and to keep track of their aging and depreciation, which can be an important way to reduce costs and cut tax liability. 4. Rely on one or two people to track assets - When a small team or individual are the only ones with access to an asset database the risk of fraud increases greatly and the ability to scale the organization and bring in new people is diminished. 5. Don’t track user accountability - With a manual asset tracking system like Excel or Access it can be almost impossible to track who has made what changes, making it difficult to hold employees and user accountable for mistakes or issues.

How Fort Hood Used to Track Assets

Fort Hood uses 1,000 IT assets such as servers, computers, network switches and more, in eight buildings on base and three locations off-base in Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; and White Sands, New Mexico. Each year, aging equipment must be retired and new gear deployed in this constantly moving pool of assets. In addition, the base needs to track each asset type, number and location for audits by IT managers and outside inspectors which happen several times each year. This Is How The U.S. Army Keeps Track Of Its Assets “There is a continual need for information related to our IT assets,” said Terry French, property manager for the base’s IT equipment. “The U.S. government demands accountability for the property assigned to us.” To try and keep track of Fort Hood’s assets, French was writing down serial and model numbers by hand and then having the information entered into an Access database, a method that guarantees some level of human error. At audit time, French needed to physically locate an asset to see if it corresponded with his database, he had no way of knowing whether the database was really up to date. “This was a time-consuming and cumbersome process,” French said. “Plus, the Access database was simply not designed to provide effective reports quickly at the time they were requested. I got tired of the wasted time and the errors that I struggled with each week.”

5 Steps to Asset Management Mastery

1. Find the best asset management system for your needs - Before choosing an asset management system it is crucial to assess your organization’s needs and long term goals as well as the features of the system. 2. Use automated barcode based technology to label and track assets - Barcode technology was developed to increase the efficiency of identifying assets or inventory and reduce the potential for human error. 3. Track assets as they age to accurately report their current value - Using a sophisticated asset management system allows you to easily track assets as they age and depreciate and accurately assess their current value. 4. Create a centralized database that is updated in real-time - An asset tracking system is no good if it can’t really tell you where your assets are. A centralized database that is updated in real-time allows you to be confident when auditors come or reports need to be drafted and it ensures you can always find an asset when you need it. 5. Track users to ensure accountability - Using a system that tracks users enables an organization to hold people accountable for their mistakes and reduces the risk of fraud.

Related Article: 5 Asset Management Best Practices

Why Fort Hood Is Now Protected From Asset Mismanagement

Once it became clear the manual system wasn't working, French began to research alternatives. After hearing about Wasp Barcode he was pleased to discover its wide range of functionality and even more pleased to find it was within his budget. Using Mobile Asset, French and his team could easily track and manage valuable company assets, conduct audits and instantly access and create managerial reports. Scanning an assets existing barcode tag with a Wasp barcode scanner allowed French to instantly update his asset database without the possibility of human error. MobileAsset also made it easier for French to dispose of aging assets, a process in which the value of the item and its history must be reported. “In the past, this was virtually impossible,” French said “I didn't really know which assets should be eliminated, since there was no accurate accounting of these items. What’s more, I didn't know when they were purchased, how much they were worth at the time of purchase, or how much they were worth now.”“This process is an easy, slick and foolproof method for recording an asset’s serial number and model number using barcodes,” French said. “In the past, when I received new equipment, it took up to an hour to manually record all of the information. Now, that time has been reduced to less than 15 minutes.”

“We have better information than ever before, plus we are saving tens of thousands of dollars in wasted time and effort,” French said.

As for audits, a daunting task for any organization, especially one as large as Fort Hood, French no longer worries when the auditor comes knocking. “We have better information than ever before, plus we are saving tens of thousands of dollars in wasted time and effort,” French said. “I estimate that we save the equivalent of $30,000 in time, just on the reduced field auditing alone. I really don’t know how any government property manager could operate without something like MobileAsset. It has simplified my life.” How would having a dedicated asset management tracking system help your company to not only keep accurate records of assets but how would it also save time when it came time to find assets when they are needed?