Keeping track of your company’s assets can be a challenging task, especially if your company has wide-ranging interests, many different kinds of assets, or is scattered geographically. Asset management can also be a non-trivial problem for companies with property in multiple legal jurisdictions.
So what are some ways that companies can better manage their assets in order to grow their businesses?
Make a List
It seems awfully simple, but the value of a good list can’t be overstated. The key to making good lists is to make absolutely certain they are complete and include all the relevant information. For example, if you are making a list of financial accounts, your online login information, the e-mail address associated with the account and the tax ID number are all items that might escape a back-of-the-napkin project, but which should absolutely appear on a complete and properly organized list you plan to use in the future.
Such a list, naturally, is highly proprietary and sensitive and should be kept in both digital and printed forms using the same diligence you would use to make backups of your company’s important data.
Use Traditional Accounting
Good accounting practices go back centuries and are responsible for much of the advances in civilization mankind has experienced since the dark ages. The techniques used to track money in and out of your various accounts can also be used to track other kinds of assets. Further, those techniques can be used to monitor things like depreciation, equity, liens and other financial considerations.
There are numerous software applications that can be used to either “roll your own” accounting system for assets or use a standardized process. Most accounting packages will permit nearly endless permutations of asset tracking, so if you are looking for a flexible solution, this is a good place to start.
Assets can be organized by category, type, and index through a simple taxonomy. This can be hierarchical, like a library catalog, or it can be a simple flat linear index. The key to making a numbering system work is to make certain the original design of the taxonomy doesn’t leave any ambiguity as to where a particular item belongs. Too many assets with no categories generally means there is a flaw in the design of the categorization system.
Wherever possible, assets tracked by number should be recorded with their number attached in some way. The best method for this kind of catalog is to simply take a photograph of each item with the asset number attached or affixed in some way. These photographs should be arranged in list order and noted with the time and date they were taken, if possible.
Once assets have been organized by index number, they can be tracked and accounted for using techniques like best accounting practices and complete lists.
While tracking assets as they are produced can’t account for everything your company might own, such a technique can provide a dramatic boost to your efforts to keep good records. For example, various kinds of inventory tracking and organizational software have been produced that will give manufacturers granular control of each step in the process of delivering a product. From standard inventory to specialty fenestration software, there are programs available for any type of business. When materials, shipping, and other costs are taken into account, this can be an advantageous way for many companies to control costs and increase profits.
Asset management can seem like an obscure and somewhat arcane pursuit, but any businessman will tell you efficiencies are found in the details of your day-to-day transactions as a company. This is especially true if you run a complex organization. Asset management will go a long way towards helping you understand your company and how it can grow.