Written by Chris Morgan
There’s nothing that seems less important and more mundane than accounting department policies on asset tagging and tracking. They’re just little barcoded labels stuck on all the company’s valuables, they really serve no purpose. Or do they?
On a purely financial level, it’s important for a company to have a current list of all items owned so these assets can be properly depreciated (or expensed over time as required by both accounting rules and the IRS.) Purchase date, purchase price, useful life, etc. are all tracked by accounting to keep the financial statements current. (Even if your company doesn’t have stickered tags on its assets, your accounting department is still surely and quietly keeping track of what the company owns.) But why else are those little barcoded tags important?
When everything is going well, asset tracking is seemingly unimportant. But, when the unimaginable occurs: natural disasters, fires, thefts, or freight losses; that’s when it becomes incredibly important to know exactly what the company owns and who is responsible for its well-being. The first thing every insurance adjuster will ask for is a detailed list of all items lost. And, this is usually right when the company is more concerned about maintaining normal business operations than spending time retroactively creating said list. The hundreds of calls and emails back-and-forth between purchasing, accounting, legal, and operations all piecing together an asset list after-the-fact cost time and money.
Tracking technology assets as they’re assigned to individual employees is also fantastically valuable to other departments. The company’s IT personnel will absolutely love knowing specifically what computer hardware is assigned to each employee, the specifications of said hardware, and what the useful life is. And HR will be thrilled every time an employee exits the company to have a full list of what company property the employee needs to return (which is even more important when it is an involuntary exit!).
So asset tracking is definitely important, but what’s the best way to do it? There are many good tracking systems available. Startups and smaller companies often use nothing more than a detailed Excel spreadsheet. Many mid-sized firms use third-party software providers, of which there are dozens of options available ranging from simple desktop-based software to cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) systems capable of tracking 100,000-plus assets. These more advanced systems often offer more functionality including pictures of the asset, serial numbers, electronic storage of manuals/documentation, asset condition, check-in/out functions, and assignment of certain assets to unique locations or employees. Most even offer apps to real-time securely access the company’s asset records via mobile devices, which can be invaluable for companies spread across the country or world.
But what needs to be tracked? And how detailed does this tracking need to be? Computers, tools, vehicles, furniture, software – pretty much everything [non-disposable] the company owns! Most companies set a dollar threshold for fixed assets, say everything valued at $250 or more. And this need not be individual items either. Take a tool box for example: Instead of tagging each individual tool in this box, every hammer, every screwdriver, every wrench; simply tag the tool box and mark it as such in the system. This can go for anything: a crate of computer mice, a box of rain coats, or a skid of water jugs. It really depends on the company’s needs, and can be customized accordingly.
Now that the asset tracking system is in place, the most important part is maintenance! As new assets are purchased they need to be put into the system and as old assets are retired, liquidated, or thrown out, they need to be removed from the system. Nothing is worse than creating an accurate asset list today, and then six months later (or when it’s urgently needed!) finding out it’s simply not accurate. Just like everything in life, a few minutes of asset management today will ensure it won’t take several hours tomorrow!
Chris manages the corporate and administrative side of Event360. His team covers everything from accounting to travel to purchasing to office management. Chris concentrates on simplifying processes, operations, and reporting so event production side can spend their valuable time on event deliverables instead of administration.