Asset Tracking should not just be for Year-End

19th Sep 2019
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From cameras to monitors, assets are on the move. It may sound like a scene from Dr. Who, but the reality is that from hospitals providing patients with in-home equipment to schools allocating video cameras for art projects and even delivery drivers with parcel scanners, the assets owned by organisations are increasingly deployed not only within the physical boundaries of a building but also outside.

For those tasked with managing these assets and ensuring equipment is available on demand for patients, students and new starters, keeping track of these continually moving items is an increasingly critical aspect of the day to day activity. And that means the traditional annual physical audit of assets is simply no longer good enough.

Asset tracking is not just for year-end. In today’s highly mobile world, enabling individuals to undertake a process of continual routine asset tracking via mobile apps is key to retaining visibility and control over them as they flow in and out of the organisation.

Fluid Asset Base
Today’s society is mobile in so many ways – mobile phones dominate the way we communicate and mobile commerce now outstrips revenue from other channels.  But while organisations have developed any number of strategies to support the mobile enabled workforce and customer base, few have implemented effective policies to control and track the increasingly mobile asset base – an asset base that now moves not only within an organisation but increasingly outside its traditional physical boundaries.

Keeping track of assets used to be a relatively straightforward – albeit a boring and grudgingly undertaken – process. Someone in IT, finance or facilities management would perform a physical audit – typically using a barcode reader – perhaps once a year to provide an up to date view on asset status and location. This enabled Finance to update the balance sheet and IT/facilities management teams to have a better understanding of asset damage or loss.

Times have changed though, and radically! In today’s highly mobile society, organisations are managing assets on behalf of other people or allocating expensive assets to individuals for definite or indefinite periods of time. Organisations need to change the way the asset base is considered and managed.

Imposing Control
From the school, academy or college providing students with tablets and video equipment for art projects, to the NHS Trust or GP Surgery providing 24 hour blood pressure monitoring or walking frames to patients at home; or even the hotel looking to keep track of guests’ expensive luggage – assets are permanently on the move. 

So just how are those assets being tracked? As the NHS increases its focus on delivering more care in the home to cut down on hospital admissions, how are Trusts and GP surgeries tracking the increasing amount of equipment provided to individuals at home? How are they ensuring the equipment is still in place, check for maintenance requirements or manage returns when the equipment is no longer required? Without a way of easily and routinely gaining an up to date view of asset location, the risk of loss and mismanagement is significant.

Routine Audit
So how can an organisation make the asset audit a routine and simple aspect of day to day activity? With the latest generation of mobile apps, organisations have the chance to devolve responsibility for managing and auditing the asset estate away from IT and Finance and towards operational areas.  The model is compelling: there is no additional hardware investment and the low cost software can be downloaded from the Apple store or Google Play and works on any device. Furthermore the training requirements are minimal since most people know how to use a smart phone.

Armed with the mobile asset management app, staff can undertake the physical audits using the camera on the smart phone to scan barcodes – in the same way the laser scanner on a PDA has been used in the past. The difference is that with ubiquitous smart phone use, an organisation can move away from dedicated equipment and dedicated audit individuals to devolving responsibility more broadly across the organisation. The one off or annual audit can be replaced by routine, even daily activity undertaken by those directly interacting with the assets.

Real Time Information
Simple, immediate access to up to date asset information transforms the way organisations can utilise and control a mobile asset base. For example, the art teacher allocating camera equipment to students will automatically scan the equipment as part of the process, ensuring a full and up to date record. Similarly within the NHS, equipment will be scanned as it leaves and returns to the hospital or GP surgery. Meanwhile the IT support person faced with a malfunctioning PC can use the app to log on to the asset tracking software and gain all the information regarding the asset’s history and maintenance status immediately, with none of the delay associated with returning to an office in another part of the building. Also, as part of the support process, the interaction with that asset will automatically update the asset register, ensuring the laptop’s latest location is also accurate.

This model can even be used by hotels wanting to improve the tracking of guests’ luggage through the arrival, check in, transfer to room and storage processes. Porters will use the mobile app to scan each guest’s luggage as it arrives; it will be automatically assigned to an individual or room and then tracked throughout that guest’s stay. In addition to minimising the chance of luggage being lost, this approach also improves security – any untagged luggage left in the hotel building would be immediately deemed suspicious.

Making The Change
Organisations in every market are operating a far more complex, fluid and changing asset base – and the traditional, once a year approach to tracking those assets is simply not good enough. Waiting for Year End to undertake a one off audit is not going to work in this mobile environment.

By enabling diverse individuals to utilise the new generation of app-based asset tracking solutions, organisations can gain real time visibility of asset location, value and status. With this information, it is the asset owners and budget holders that are now empowered to make the critical asset management decisions, ensuring essential control is imposed over this continually changing yet increasingly valuable property.

For further information on how mobile asset tracking software can better manage and control your business critical assets, visit our website today.