by Sean Pugatch, AssetWorks Regional Account Manager, Appraisal Division
Performing a physical inventory of your fixed assets can sometimes be a real adventure — a complex one of travel, pitfalls, forgotten treasures, missing artifacts and even a race against time. But the right inventory management software can do a lot to help you whip the process into shape — quickly, effectively and with all the accountability you need to meet today’s regulations. So what should you look for when choosing software to help perform a physical inventory? Based on my experience with our customers in the field, I’ve come up with seven important features:
1. On-the-Ground Mobility Plus a Big Picture View
When evaluating physical inventory solutions, many companies tend to focus on the mobile component, the actual handheld scanning technology for the physical assets themselves. What organizations may overlook is the importance of also having an easily accessible web-based inventory database. Just think of the inventory process as a dense jungle you need to navigate. The mobile application helps you cut through the thick underbrush involved in scanning the individual inventory items. But the online database is where all of the collected data resides, so that each asset can be reconciled before you update your system of record. It’s basically your map to the inventory history of each asset and a bird’s eye view of your inventory as a whole. As your inventory team seeks to track down moved assets, missing assets, and conflicting information across multiple locations, the online database becomes an invaluable repository for researching the answers you need and updating the latest findings.
2. Smooth Import and Export Paths for Inventory Data
An effective physical inventory solution should enhance your existing fixed asset system of record, by ensuring you’re working with the most current inventory data at all times. This physical inventory solution should have the ability to draw in fixed asset data and export completed inventory data back into your system of record. Just make sure the tool you select can configure both imports and exports, so your fixed asset system of record and your inventory solution work together seamlessly.
3. Customizable Data Fields for a More Streamlined Journey
Another important element of alignment between inventory and fixed asset systems is in data field nomenclature. Undoubtedly, your organization has specific naming conventions for your asset data, and your physical inventory system should share them. Any physical inventory solution you choose should allow you to flexibly customize data fields to reflect your organization’s own already-familiar field headers. Maintaining uniformity between the two systems helps users learn a new inventory system more quickly and update asset details more easily when necessary.
4. Definable User Roles, the Passports to Better Inventory Security
Your mobile inventory solution should let you create users and assign them roles within the system, just the way your fixed assets system should. Whether you create a system administrator or simply a user with read-only access, the role assignment controls what each user can do within the system. That’s why, when assigning roles, it’s important to think about the level of access for each user, as it relates to both the online database and the mobile application. Working in conjunction with these user roles, your new physical inventory solution should also allow you to assign specific asset datasets to each user. This is called “scope-based security,” and it’s what controls access to specific groups of fixed assets within the inventory system. With scope-based security, you buckle down permissions to only the information each user needs most, increasing accountability and reducing the potential for error.
5. Automatic Data Synchronization, On-the-Go
Most physical inventory work is done in the field using a mobile device. To ensure you’re always working with the most current data, your mobile and web applications should connect seamlessly. Since today’s mobile devices all have Wi-Fi capabilities, you’ll want to look for a mobile app that synchronizes automatically with web applications. Also, make sure the app you choose will work in a batch mode. This is a lifesaver for those frustrating times your device drops Wi-Fi connectivity. An effective inventory application like this will save the data when a connection is unavailable, and upload automatically, as a batch, once Wi-Fi is restored. Because of this, you never have to worry about lost data or long sync delays.
6. Today’s Technology to Unearth Those Assets
When it comes to an inventory system, you need one with longevity, so the mobile fixed asset inventory application you choose should run on the latest technology. Make sure you look for apps that work on iOS and/or Android devices. For true versatility, select a mobile app that lets your users make updates to asset records at the point of scan, but can also work in a quick confirmation mode, for those times each asset detail doesn’t need to be analyzed. When out in the field, there are times we all need a little help, so the ideal mobile app should allow you to perform searches from your device. This puts additional asset information at your fingertips, such as pinpointing the location of other assets within a specific building. Most search functions won’t let you update inventory from that part of the app, but they can help make your job easier.
7. Searches and Reports to Keep the Adventure on Track
From an administrative perspective, reports and ad-hoc searches are extremely important to help verify inventory is running smoothly. Whether you’re checking on changes to asset records, running missing items reports, or ready to reconcile completed inventory data, the physical inventory solution you choose should provide you with a plethora of standard reports and ad-hoc reporting capabilities. Remember, the reconciliation process is the last stop before your inventory data updates your fixed asset system of record, so make sure the solution you select allows you to analyze your inventory in a variety of ways.
An Exciting New Journey Begins…
A software solution can do a lot to help you navigate the thrills and chills of fixed asset inventory. To learn more about AssetWorks’ mobile inventory solutions, click here. Or feel free to contact me at (512)-374-7400 x1865.