Asset Tracking for Small Businesses: Is It Time to Ditch the Spreadsheet?

Asset tracking is essential for big businesses. It helps minimize costs and prevent unnecessary losses through a streamlined management system.

While some small businesses get by without asset tracking management systems, it is just as important for them to minimize costs and improve efficiency. If you’re running a small business and still using a spreadsheet to track your assets, it’s time to consider how you could benefit from the ease of use and accuracy of a more sophisticated asset tracking system.

What Is Asset Tracking?

At its core, asset tracking is a way to keep an inventory of all the physical assets of a company. It can help you keep track of machinery, equipment, raw materials, and even employees.

Asset tracking can be done using numerous methods, but all of them consist of some way to scan each asset into a database. Those assets can then be checked in and out, managed, and tracked.

Are Spreadsheets Enough?

Spreadsheets used to be the state-of-the-art method to keep track of a company’s equipment and materials. Initially done with pencil and paper until spreadsheets migrated to computers, using Excel, Google Sheets, and similar software.

Computerized spreadsheets moved asset tracking into the computer age, but now that asset tracking programs have hit the scene, it’s worth considering why spreadsheets just don’t cut it anymore.

Inaccuracy

Manual spreadsheets leave a lot of room for error – even professional data entry clerks make mistakes. When you have numerous people throughout the company inputting each individual asset’s data, there are going to be mistakes. You could deal with this by having several people look over the entries, but this is time-consuming and still wouldn’t entirely eliminate human error.

Limiting

Although spreadsheets can be extremely helpful to organize information, they are very limiting. For example, only one person can be in an Excel sheet at a given time. If this is how you are tracking your equipment, you can’t have two people updating the spreadsheet simultaneously, which can quickly become frustrating.

Spreadsheets are also best viewed on a computer. Anyone who has tried to consult and update a spreadsheet on a phone knows they aren’t very mobile-friendly. You may find yourself trying to remember to update the spreadsheet when you get back to the office, or bringing along a paper copy of a spreadsheet to take an inventory of assets.

Scaling

Basic spreadsheets can become overwhelming as a company grows in size. They just don’t offer the flexibility and scalability that can be accomplished within an asset tracking program. An asset management system offers flexibility as your company grows. If you get more equipment or more inventory, it can be quickly added to the system, and you don’t have to worry about creating a new spreadsheet.

What are the Benefits of Asset Tracking?

​But maybe, despite all those constraints, you’ve become comfortable with your spreadsheet system and don’t see the point in making the switch. If that’s the case, it’s worth considering how an asset tracking program could benefit you.

User-Friendly

One of the main reasons asset tracking can benefit you so greatly is that it makes the information so much easier to look at. Spreadsheets quickly become overwhelming since they lay out so much data in front of you. You may find yourself needing more than one document to manage individual sections of assets. Whereas asset tracking can combine all of that information into one main database.

Real-Time Management

Using an asset management system allows you to manage inventory in real time, meaning you know exactly where things are at any given moment. Not only will this help you make better-informed decisions, it will also give you the peace of mind of knowing that the information you’re looking at is up to date.

Mobility

Asset tracking programs are more suitable for mobile systems. You can use a handheld scanner to quickly add or remove assets from a specific area or assign a new user to a piece of equipment, and it updates the system right away. No need to carry around a pen and paper to jot down who has what, or what is being taken from where.

Accuracy

A scanning system ensures that your assets are tracked much more accurately. You can simply scan a barcode on an asset to sign it in or out, view information about it, or apply a task associated with the asset such as an inspection. This takes human error out of the equation, since there’s no additional data input step.

Again, asset tracking provides accurate data of who has what in real-time, and you can even add GPS features so you can see the physical location of your assets.

Cost Efficiency

Many small businesses find the price tag on the spreadsheet very appealing. But what they don’t realize is that an asset tracking system has the potential to save them money in the long run. Limiting lost equipment, saving time looking for assets, and increasing efficiency all make up for any costs that come with ditching the spreadsheet.

Additional Benefits

Asset tracking can give you more than just the ability to scan equipment in and out. It can provide you with information on maintenance, equipment efficiency, and productivity.

Asset tracking also keeps everyone accountable for your company’s assets. The scanning feature gives you the ability to attach an employee’s name to each piece of equipment. This improves organization and can show you where you may be having issues with equipment not being returned when or where it needs to be.

Summary

Asset management programs can help streamline multiple functions into one main resource that anyone can access from anywhere. Despite an upfront cost of asset management systems, small businesses will see the payback in a short period of time given the time and energy that they will save by better managing their assets. With those kinds of benefits at stake, it’s time to ditch the spreadsheet once and for all.

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