For many organisations, taking the time to carefully manage their office inventory and asset management may be far from their uppermost priority, right up until the moment it becomes clear that poor management of their fixed assets is damaging their bottom line.
Unfortunately, all too many businesses therefore end up in a ‘firefighting’ situation with various aspects of the management of their office inventory – despite the fact that, at its worst, inadequate inventory management can imperil the very survival of a business.
By ‘office inventory’, we are referring to the assets and supplies that any organisation requires in order to operate. These can include such simple items from pens, pencils and notepads to computers, printers and other office equipment.
Failing to manage your organisation’s inventory properly – including knowing exactly what fixed assets you have, in what number, and in what locations – can negatively affect day-to-day efficiency and productivity, and therefore even the organisation’s profits.
Implementing procedures for properly managing inventory, then, could scarcely be more important in the office. Here are some key steps for ensuring exactly that.
Maintain an inventory
Even if any management of your office inventory is currently done on a relatively informal basis at your organisation, there is unfortunately a lot of scope for poor office inventory management to cause your business to incur costs over time that could otherwise have been highly avoidable.
Imagine, for example, that a department at your organisation appears to find itself short of all of the necessary computer equipment or furniture it requires for its staff. An order may therefore be placed for these items, but without it being known that in another department, there are some unused items in storage that could have been directed to the department in need.
This is just one small example of issues that occur with an organisations’ office inventory every day, if there are not sophisticated measures in place to keep on top of the business’s inventory. When instances like this are repeated across a business’s operations, including what may be multiple sites, the costs of this can quickly accumulate.
Even if such monetary waste is not such a problem at your organisation that it threatens the entire future of the business, it still means less money is available to allocate to other priorities, thereby holding back the firm’s growth potential.
One subject that we haven’t really touched on so far in this discussion about office inventory management, is accountability. Sadly for employers trying to keep track of their office inventory, it’s far from unheard-of for Britons to steal supplies from their workplaces, with 38% – according to a YouGov survey in 2018 – having thieved pens or pencils. 22% of respondents admitted to having taken notepads from their place of work, while 18% cited printer paper.
As an employer, you might not be greatly concerned about the occasional pen or pencil mysteriously going missing from your office – and other findings of the YouGov research suggested this was the case for many bosses. However, it is another example of how a business’s inventory can be depleted by sometimes unpredictable factors.
Establishing accountability for the whereabouts of items in your business’s inventory is likely to have become an even more pressing priority amid the dramatic changes in how Britons have worked over the past 18 months. Much has been said about the widespread rise in homeworking since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, but this might have also heightened the scope for items to go missing.
Employees may feel that they are doing the right thing in taking their work laptop home, if it is chiefly being used for work. But with much having been said about future ‘hybrid’ working models whereby many of us are likely to spend some of our working time in the traditional office and two or three days a week working from home, it is a situation that underlines the importance of organisations keeping tabs on their office inventory. Knowing where a company’s assets reside, such as laptops, is becoming vitally important to the profitability of the organisation.
Organise and centralise your data storage
If you are looking to manage your own business’s office inventory more effectively, a great starting point is to establish a means of organising all of your inventory data in one place.
For some office-based businesses, this might mean setting up a spreadsheet containing all of the information on the business’s assets, which – while a very imperfect arrangement – is at least a start. Unfortunately, though, it’s inevitable that employees will become too busy with other matters to be able to keep such a spreadsheet up to date, and with it being such a manual system, errors can also creep in. There may also be issues with employees’ ability to access the spreadsheet, especially during this time when at least some members of staff may still be working from home. And handover… should the member of staff responsible for inventory leave, who will pick it up and run with it?
The latter issue might prompt you to look seriously at investing in a cloud-based office inventory management system – by which we mean, one based on the Internet, rather than on a single office computer’s hard drive. This could be a highly efficient solution whereby, wherever the staff member is at any one time, they will be able to access the system and determine the exact location of any particular item the business might need.
Use a digital solution
All of the above factors with managing office inventory make it unsurprising that so many businesses have embraced digital, cloud-based inventory management arrangements in recent years. And when you are on the lookout for a single solution for tracking all of your office-based business’s fixed assets, you could scarcely hope for a more comprehensive product than ACMS UK’s Vision software solution.
Our software’s Asset Management module is likely to be of particular interest when office-based businesses are seeking to optimise how they manage their inventory. This module allows for the easy creation of a fixed asset register that makes it a straightforward and an intuitive process for your company to list, manage, view, edit and audit its assets.
The Vision-tag (RFiD or Near Field Communication) technology used in conjunction with our software allows for the remote managing of your organisation’s assets, with a particular asset or location able to be tagged to provide immediate access to live data, documentation and/or maintenance/service records for that item or location.
In short, your business will no longer need to be disorganised in how it manages its assets – including when it comes to those all-important decisions on maintaining, repairing and/or replacing items over time – when it chooses our own asset management software.
Such strong 24/7 visibility of your organisation’s assets can, in turn, translate into improved accountability, more efficient operations, and a healthier bottom line for your firm.
Don’t hesitate to contact ACMS UK now for more information or to arrange an online demo of Vision.