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The Basics of Asset Management: What It Can Do and How You Can Do It

Young developers working in their start-up home office. They are brainstorming, woman holding pencil and writing while talking with her coworker. They are collaborating. Top view. Location is released. Whatever happened to that tablet Phil took home a few weeks to try the remote program? Did Lisa ever return the smartphone you gave her for business purposes? Did she turn it in with her notice? When did you even see that old laptop from 2005? Can you apply any of these questions to your small business and come up with an answer other than “I don’t know”? if you can: How did you find it? An accounting program that doubles as your asset management software? A spreadsheet? An old handwritten log? Do you know at all? Maybe it’s time to look into an asset management system. Don’t worry: If you fell into any of those categories, you aren’t alone. There’s a wide range of management systems in use by businesses: Approximately 32 percent of respondents admitted they used a spreadsheet; 22 percent stuck with an accounting program; 16 percent used an asset program like AssetCloud; 12 percent used manual methods, 11 percent simply don’t keep track of their asset. Six percent couldn’t say if they track asset or not (quite possibly the most dangerous prospect). Two percent used some other, as-yet unidentified method that seems special to their individual business. call-to-action-810x75-c Most of these methods come with their own unique pitfalls. Spreadsheets, for example, require manual data entry, much like the pen-and-paper method, but replace the potential for damage or loss with file deletion or overwriting.  Both waste manhours, constantly wind up out-of-date within minutes of “completion,”, and are rife with the potential for entry errors. Of course, if you don’t plan to expand your business – ever – either of these methods might suit your needs. Accounting software might prove somewhat useful: Bills and invoices could be sent to both systems and uploaded to both databases, but don’t depend on it to adequately keep up with assets. Let’s pretend you fall in the last two sets of respondents (just pretend). Let’s start at the beginning and define an “asset.” You might head about asset management and inventory management and wonder if they couldn’t be interchangeable. The short answer? No. “Assets” are typically used to produce these goods and run your business. Assets’ values depreciate over time and call for upgrades or replacement. Still, they tend to remain in your operation at least a year. “Inventory,” on the other hand, refers to products, goods, and items your company sells to bring in money or are used in production. They typically don’t last more than a few months in house. Computers, phones, machinery? Assets. Paper, your crafted goods? Inventory. You should expect to profit from the use of an asset over its lifetime. [Tweet "Assets’ values depreciate over time and call for upgrades or replacement."] Doesn’t it seem logical that you would want to keep tabs on the equipment you use to help your business run? To keep track of the tools of the trade and how their values fluctuate over time? Considering 10 percent of companies write off asset losses to the tune of $430,000 annually, it seems oddly simple to lose sight of assets internal value. Think about the questions asked when we started this conversation: How long do you think you would spend on a search for these missing items? Sixty-four percent of those same businesses look for something at least once a day; a majority of these search take longer than 30 minutes. That’s two-and-a-half hours in a single week, 10 hours each month. What of the replacement costs for some of these lost assets? Considering hard- and software alone, asset management can help reduce the total cost on average from 10 to 30 percent! Beyond that, proper use of your asset management system can help your business see a 20 percent savings per managed asset within nine months. Top view office corporate design mockup template on wooden background Does your company operate out of a traditional office space? Do you lease one? Rent one as needed? Meet in a local coffee shop to hold meetings? Run the coffee shop? How often do you work outside a room or on the go? Chances are pretty good you eschew the office space for the mobile route: Sixty percent of workers believe they can be just as (if not more) productive outside the office as within. Approximately 38 percent outright prefer to work from home while four percent enjoy a public location; three percent even work in transit to work! This mobility can save you on office space and fees but calls for even greater diligence with your asset management. Any equipment you provide your employees for business purposes needs a barcode affixed to it that is scanned and logged to that individual. Require any use of fixed assets like tablets or phones to be scanned regularly so the identity of the last-known user remains know and updates can be made to its condition (in the event of a mishap or loss). Consider this another investment in a fixed asset: Add a barcode printer to your main location (office, room, wherever). Create and print your own barcodes, create your database, and keep your running history on users, depreciation, and replacement. This could prove especially useful if you learn someone you employed uses “Smack offending machine” as the first troubleshooting step!


Regular maintenance can also help you avoid dangers of ghost assets, assets you can no longer account for because they went missing, cease to function, or no longer exist in your business. You cannibalized one machine for viable parts. An old machine got donated when you bought a newer model. You traded in for an upgrade and forgot to log it, or note it, or when it happened. It got tossed with last week’s trash because…oops. Regular asset checks and barcode management can help keep your records neat and clean for tax time and for your budgeting needs. Your insurance rates could go down because your liability or risks dropped. You can keep track of the depreciation of your assets and update your fair market values in the event you decide to sell off old equipment. And you can do all of it in-house! Don’t worry. It may seem like a lot of hard work and new information to take in, plus a whole new software suite to learn, but there’s hope! Live demos and limited test runs of asset management software can clue you in to how the software works and how you and your personnel will adapt to the new method. You can also make sure you find the system that fits your business, not what you can make fit. What benefits could your company gain from an asset management system like AssetCloud? Have you experienced the questioning pauses over certain assets you haven’t seen since who-knows-when?