Quite a few methods of tracking your assets exist. And because each business is unique, what works for one does not necessarily work for another. There are really no wrong solutions, just solutions that work best for you. Methods of tracking your assets, also known as asset management, have several connotations. The most widely used definition refers to financial matters, investments in particular. Pension or mutual funds, stocks and banking matters all are a part of asset management.
Another method of tracking your assets has to do with fixed assets, or in layman’s terms, physical items. Some examples of this type of assets include store inventory like in retail or wholesale businesses or equipment like forklifts in a factory. In an office atmosphere, it could be the computers and desks that are fixed assets.
For our purposes here, we will discuss the more tangible methods of tracking your assets – those physical items you have to keep track of for your business. Management of assets affects a company’s balance sheet, so increasing importance has been given in recent years to methods of tracking your assets.
Let’s think about how businesses, especially retail businesses, kept track of their stock and other inventory before today’s computers, software and other fancy technology. They had to physically tally everything and take notes by hand to account for their assets. It was a time consuming, tedious process. With the retail businesses, they took quite a bit of losses due to shoplifting, losses they would not realize until it was inventory time.
With the advent of bar code technology electronic surveillance, asset tracking really grew exponentially. A bar code, or UPC which stands for Universal Product Code, is an inventory tracking mechanism that was specifically created for grocery and other food stores. With the mass volume of items coming and going from these stores, it was essential to know when inventory on certain products was running low and when to order more. Not only that, with scanning a bar code versus hand entering a price, the checkout process for customers was dramatically cut.
This bar code technology made its way to other retail and commercial outlets. Today, even libraries have gotten into the act with placing bar code labels inside their books which makes for better check in and check out. And for those businesses which have multiple locations or large warehouses, this scanning technology for bar codes goes even further. Now, employees can scan inventory and other items via a Palm Pilot and other portable scanning devices. These devices would then be plugged into a computer or network and download the information it scanned.
In addition to bar codes, there is electronic surveillance using magnetic technologies as well as radio frequencies. Devices can be hidden within a product’s packaging unbeknownst to consumers and would-be shoplifters. If that product is not scanned using the proper equipment to deactivate that device, then an alarm is raised. Just think about buying a DVD at one of those large mass retailers. You know how sometimes, people are stopped at the door when an alarm sounds? Sometimes, employees forget to scan and deactivate an item.
With the portability of technology these days, methods of tracking your assets have never been easier. The hard part is determining what method would work best for your purposes. Not only that, there are countless types of software and hardware options to think about too. The bottom line is that the tools are out there for tracking your assets; you just have to decide which one that is.