Staying on top of your company’s assets is a critical business practice, particularly for entrepreneurs and small business owners whose livelihoods often hinge on using business assets as efficiently as possible.
Implementing an asset-tracking system gives you greater control over your assets, along with increased operational visibility. We’ll explore asset-tracking technology and methods and explain why such solutions are an essential component of any growing small business.
Logging and tracking data is a critical aspect of running a small business. For example, as a business owner, logging and tracking inventory, employee hours, accounts receivable, wages and overall business expenses are regular tasks. Additionally, marketing professionals routinely track audience engagement. Tracking vital business assets is another component of running an efficient, successful business.
Technology makes asset tracking manageable via software and hardware solutions that help you monitor critical business assets across the community, state, country or even the world.
Asset-tracking technology can boost your ability to see all aspects of your operations. This increased visibility can lead to enhanced efficiency and a better bottom line.
Asset tracking is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of running a business. Investing in asset-tracking technology can help you create a stronger, more efficient organization.
GPS fleet management is an asset-tracking type that makes sure vehicles operate efficiently and drivers are safe and responsible. Read our reviews of the best GPS fleet management solutions if your business needs this type of transportation tracking.
If your business has any physical assets, you might benefit from asset tracking. These are some trackable assets:
As the market for returnable assets increases, asset tracking will continue to grow as an essential small business function.
You can track almost anything related to your business. Brainstorm with partners and your leadership team to determine which physical assets are essential for your business’s operation. Identifying these assets is the first step toward tracking them and, ultimately, saving your business money.
Before committing to an asset-tracking solution, you should understand how such things work. In the past, companies would track assets in analog form with pen and paper. However, this method was inefficient and didn’t provide many insights.
As technology developed, many businesses adopted enterprise resource planning (ERP) as an asset-tracking method. While ERP is an excellent way to automate the tracking process, one of its shortcomings is the inability to track individual assets efficiently. Today, smartphones with high-resolution cameras are slowly updating the ERP process to incorporate scanning, tracking and identifying business assets more efficiently.
While your business should explore various asset-tracking methods, asset tracking boils down to two main components: software and hardware.
Communicate with your sales representative to find the asset-tracking method that works best for your business. The right one for your company depends on your business, the assets you need to track and the information you want to gather in the tracking process.
In addition to tracking your assets, protect them with the right small business insurance policies.
Identify your company’s needs before signing up for an asset-tracking solution. Ask a sales representative for information and costs about the following asset-tracking methods:
One of the most common methods of tracking assets is by scanning barcodes. Barcodes are ubiquitous in modern business, so it should be no surprise that they’re a common and effective way to track vital business assets.
Here are some upsides to barcode-based asset tracking:
While its simple, fast approach can make barcode-based asset tracking ideal for many businesses, barcode scanning also has disadvantages:
If you use barcode asset tracking, you’ll also have to invest in hardware. Scanners can be part of a smartphone suite, or you can buy individual scanners for your asset-tracking process.
RFID technology uses radio frequencies and chips to transmit information to a receiver. While RFID-based asset tracking is more automated than barcode scanning, it’s also less versatile.
These are some of the benefits of RFID-based asset tracking:
Here are some of the downsides of RFID-based asset tracking:
GPS tag-based asset-tracking technology involves installing hardware in assets and tracking them via a software platform. Unlike barcode scanning and RFID, no human intervention is required for tracking these assets. The device within the asset sends location data back to the central platform on a per-minute basis (or hourly, depending on your package).
GPS tag-based asset-tracking is ideal for tracking larger assets, but it’s likely the most expensive asset-tracking method you’ll encounter.
Geofencing is another asset-tracking method to keep in mind. With geofencing, you can create predetermined areas where assets must remain. If the assets exit these areas, you’ll be alerted and can begin the recovery process.
Geofencing can be particularly advantageous to businesses renting equipment within a defined area. Geofencing provides invisible boundaries that ensure your equipment, tools or other assets remain where they’re supposed to be.
Geofencing is also an excellent option for government contracting businesses that lease specialized equipment within offices or other predetermined areas of business operation.
Below are some best practices for implementing asset-tracking within your business.
One of the most obvious but important parts of effectively tracking your assets is creating tags for each of them. QR codes can be useful tags, as you can scan them with a mobile device and view all the data stored for each asset. This way, you can easily assess information about all your assets without worrying about duplicating serial numbers or recording errors.
Once you’ve created a network of assets with tags and recorded information, it’s important to ensure that this data is stored in a central location. This way, all the details you need are at your fingertips. You can use this information to identify trends, generate reports and make informed decisions based on the data you’ve gathered and analyzed over time.
It’s important to know your assets’ current performance level along with how well you need your assets to perform. Benchmarks are your starting point for assessing this performance. For example, you might determine that you need a certain product to generate 100 units every day. In this case, you know your benchmark is 100 units, so any production amount below this number calls for attention.
Once you’ve identified which assets you want to track and how, you’ll need to create a strategic plan for implementing asset tracking within your company. To start, train your employees to use the software involved in your asset-tracking process. As they learn and work through your process, get their feedback. This way, you can regularly adjust your procedure to make asset tracking work equally well for your capital and your team.
There are many assets involved in your business, and keeping up with them involves more than making a list and logging new additions. Instead, putting a strategic implementation process in place can help you closely monitor some of the most important parts of your business. It can even improve asset performance and output. It’s a great way to get more bang for your buck – with the resources you already have.
Shayna Waltower contributed to this article.