How an iPod and some clever software solved my asset verification needs
Let’s start with a story I have seen played out many times, at various companies; It is close to year-end and the whole company is running around to address all the “last minute” issues before the deadline, and then, one of the employees who is on track with their tasks, looks at a faded barcode on the visitor’s chair in their office and asks, “Is that my chair?”. This question gets escalated to management and inevitably the discussion is shared with the financial director. He then nods and thinks to himself, “Did we keep track of our assets? Will the auditors do a physical asset check? Will I get an audit finding?”. Soon a frantic flurry of activity ensues where assets are counted, verified, moved, labelled and then the search for missing assets begins.
I have seen many different methods used, to count assets and get them verified in the shortest time possible. Printed paper with manual lists which becomes a cumbersome task to transfer to electronic records. Excel spreadsheets on a laptop, which requires the user to carry a laptop everywhere. The most effective so far is with a handheld device, using barcodes to scan and verify the assets. Usually a handheld device is an expensive purchase, but the move to mobile and to app based solutions has made it possible to have an inexpensive device power a sophisticated scanning solution.
AccTech Verify is a mobile solution that allowed me to use an Apple iPod to scan and verify assets. Nowadays people are used to smart phones, so the whole concept of using a phone is simple and familiar. I could synchronize the app with the fixed asset module and download the latest list of asset data. Once the synchronization was complete I could go offline and start scanning. So, no wireless or 3G connection is needed once the synchronization is complete. It makes it possible to get a copy of the assets data and drive to a remote location. I could scan the asset barcodes with the camera, verify the condition, update/scan the asset serial number, pin a GPS coordinate and take a picture, all of this without having connectivity. It is only when I got back to the guesthouse and had mobile connectivity that I synchronized the data back to my asset register. The solution in this instance is hosted and did not require me to be at the office to interact with the data.
One of the stand-out features for me was the use of the existing technology in the iPod. A light can be used to scan in dark places, so under a desk or scanning in a dark room was not a problem anymore. I was also able to use the camera zoom function to scan projectors mounted on the ceiling. The GPS coordinate function allowed me to pin the asset location accurately, this also assisted with identifying the exact location of where the outdoor assets were placed geographically. I was also able to show users their fixed asset list on the device, and after they have reviewed it, sign for it on the touch screen and confirm their e-mail address. This meant that the signoff document is automatically generated with their signature on it, and it is automatically e-mailed to them. This illuminated disputes as they could correct anything on the spot, and only signed when they were 100% happy with the list.
Each time I synchronized to the website, I got up-to-date data that was captured by the other teams who were scanning simultaneously. Even if we scanned the same asset, the system allowed for exception handling and gave the correct results. Descriptions that were updated, serial numbers that were scanned and corrections made to the data were seamlessly synchronized to each of the devices. This is only possible if you have a senior team member approving the changes on the website. From the website it was also easy to get the resulting reports as they are available at a click of a button, and are deployed in the browser.
With so many different methods of doing a verification, it is necessary to use a solution that is intuitive, and one that makes the search for assets and verifying them much easier and less time consuming. I found that AccTech Verify used simple, familiar solutions to an old problem and made it easier to find the assets and get them ready for audit.