Swim at your own Risk
Watching thousands of buyers struggle to make the right asset management software selection. I am surprised that many important fundamentals are marginalized or overlooked during the process. Because most are first time buyers, I am convinced they underestimate the impact fundamentals will have on the project's success. It's like swimming without a lifeguard. Any asset management program available will cover the basics - bar coding, reports, queries, data base maintenance, scanners, and so on. What tends be overlooked are fundamentals that can have far ranging effect in the project cost and timeline.
Design Matters - The means by which tasks are accomplished counts heavily in the software's success. For example, software that allows reusing data rather than reentering it for each asset will speed the data collection effort and provide more accurate and consistent information. Likewise, applications that place the entire data base on the mobile device may be sufficient for a few hundred assets but rapidly break down when data bases grow in scale. Making certain that the software's design fits your needs is fundamental to a project's success.
Audit Controls - Unless only one trustworthy person is managing the database, you will need a complete history of all changes to asset information. It is surprising that most products only provide incomplete support of this fundamental requirement. Does the application you are considering record every change to the asset or just some of them? Is each transaction verified for accuracy before updating the data base? Are transactions entered on mobile devices automatically identified by operator and date?
Can an audit be performed quickly without unnecessary downloads or reprogramming of the mobile devices? The wrong answer to these questions should be a red flag.
Reporting is king - Any asset management program is only as good as its reporting. Things to look for include a large number of standard reports, comprehensive rather than skeletal data on each report, easy-to-use selection formula wizards that support simple and complex filters, ability to save filtered reports for reuse, and a built-in report writer allowing you to create, filter and save reports as needed. In more complex environments, check that asset reports can connect data maintained by other systems.
Adaptability - Finally, make sure the selected vendor has the expertise and desire to work with you during the implementation phase. Most organizations buying asset management software are implementing a formal tracking system for the first time. Having the vendor's knowledge and help in creating the data environment, setting up procedures and creating the initial data base is invaluable in assuring the project's overall success.
What is often expediently substituted for these fundamentals is a nearly blind reliance on price, which pretty much guarantees compromises on some or all of these fundamentals. In today's environment, no one wants to spend too much for asset management software but if you're not willing to spend enough to get good fundamentals, perhaps it's time to reconsider.