According to PwC mismanaged assets are costing business around the world $17 billion a year in losses, unnecessary maintenance and non-compliance. How can you compile and manage an asset register that increases visibility and control over vital equipment without becoming a nightmare to maintain?

What is an asset register

An asset register is a dynamic list of the assets and equipment that your business currently owns. The purpose of an asset register is to track the service history, value, location and condition of this equipment to keep you in control of costs and minimise risk of their loss or failure. An asset register should support you in making critical business decisions around maintenance, compliance and Capex. 

An asset register can be maintained in paper form, spreadsheet or as part of dedicated asset management software.

Why we need more control over fixed assets

Do you know where all your fixed assets are? Do you know what condition they’re in and how much they’re costing you to maintain? Do they pose a H&S risk to users? Do you know when they will likely need to be replaced?  This data has often been hard for companies to maintain.

As businesses reopen post-Covid there are significant new pressures on businesses to keep a better track of their assets and understand any risks associated with them as well as the ongoing costs they represent. 

  • Businesses need to audit equipment to understand how they can be best deployed to meet new demands
  • More equipment is being reassigned and shifted around businesses to support more flexible hybrid working - the system needs to reflect these changes and ensure you know exactly where valuable assets are located and who controls them
  • Compliance demands are tightening and the public is becoming more litigious, asset failure through poor management could result in serious fines or civil actions by employees/customers
  • Budgets are tightening, the C-Suite need to extend lifecycle of assets where possible, but also know exactly how much maintenance of assets is costing as well as future capex requirements for replacements.

Recording critical details of all your significant assets in one accessible digital location means you can manage and audit them more efficiently. It must be easy to use the asset register to keep track of costs, maintenance trends and project the lifespan of critical assets to control future spending.

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What does an asset register need to record

  • Description of the asset: What exactly is the asset? 
  • Date of purchase: When was the asset purchased by the company
  • Installation cost: When was the asset installed by the contractor
  • Cost of purchase: How much it cost
  • Warranty details: When does warranty expires, what is covered by the warranty etc. Plus a link to the documentation for ease of reference
  • Insurance coverage: Details of premiums, insurance expiry etc
  • Location of the asset: Exactly where the asset is located on the company premises.
  • Useful life: How many years do you anticipate this asset to be operational for
  • Depreciation method: For example - straight line, declining balance which calculates the current valuation of the asset
  • Current Netbook Value: The amount that the asset is currently valued at
  • Full audit history: Service history, call out records etc
  • Serial number: The asset will include a unique serial number so that you label and track the asset effectively.
  • QR / Barcode: A unique reference for ease of access through mobile scanning

What’s the best way to compile and maintain an asset register?

Many companies still use spreadsheets to record and maintain the details of their companies assets. But keeping details of the movement and maintenance of assets up to date in Excel, as well as managing complex formulas for depreciation can prove a nightmare. 

Multiple workers maintaining records via a shared drive and a lack of automation can result in records being overwritten or just not being kept at all. 

But many software packages specifically designed as asset registers can be equally cumbersome and difficult to maintain. Many packages are not built around mobile use, don’t offer visualisations of asset locations, are hard to update with fresh location details when they change, and offer poor auditing solutions. Workflows around maintenance and servicing can be equally hard to set up and change, so asset data is not kept up to date and the information on the register risks becoming obsolete.

At the high end of these software offerings complex geo-tracking solutions can add unnecessary cost and complexity to the way you work. They can make the set-up and ongoing maintenance of the asset management solution itself more of a burden.

What does a great asset register software look like?

The digital tools should be intuitive and mobile friendly. 

They should help you capture details of your assets and add them to your register, through simple data uploads (as spreadsheets) or in real time via a mobile device.

The right asset register software (working as part of a CAFM system) should let you ‘walk the floor’ with your mobile phone or tablet, recording the details of your assets as you go. These tools need to help you compile your register quickly and intuitively:

  • Clone assets quickly 
  • Move assets easily around a site hierarchy tree 
  • Rapidly populate property information - showing locations in a digital schema
  • Photograph assets for better record keeping
  • It should be simple to generate a serial number and a unique QR / barcode for each item that you can print out and apply to assets in location

As you build a record of assets in this way and generate QR codes for them, you’ll have the tools to audit more quickly and effectively in the future by simply scanning their labels. Scanning assets will give the engineer confidence that they are in the correct work order, servicing the right equipment and generally speed up the entire user experience.

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It should be easy to maintain and update records of your assets

The system should trigger the users for asset data management at the right time in the workflow. The engineer and FM mobile user experience should lend itself to easy and seamless asset handling.

It should be simple and intuitive for engineers and facilities managers to record all of the activities associated with your assets.

  • Be automatically prompted to perform annual checks and services
  • Have access to full service/maintenance history
  • Update asset records with notes on outcome and condition of fixed / sericed asset

It should power data driven decision making at every level of the business

Ultimately, if you are curating an accurate register of assets with the ability to record and update 

what you have spent on them, their current status, condition, location and service history - you should have the data you need to make the right business decisions.

But not every asset register will be able to turn this data into the kind of bespoke reports your business and teams need to visualise the trends, risks and expenditure that should be driving your strategy.

A good set of asset management tools will draw on the data in the asset register to compile reports and charts that will give you, at a glance, visuals surrounding:

  • Compliance oversight - flagging when equipment is at risk of failure or requires servicing to meet standards
  • Warranty control - understanding when equipment is or not covered 
  • Cost control - understanding when you are spending more maintaining them than the cost of replacement

As well as the powerful strategic tools that can help

  • Calculate current value of every significant asset in your business
  • Align capital expenditure with unreliable equipment to drive down maintenance costs
  • Purchase assets by project or bulk to ensure best costs achieved
  • Build long-term asset replacement plans based on condition reports and spend predictions

A good asset register should lie at the heart of your asset management strategy. It is the definitive and dynamic list of all the significant assets in your possession. It should be easy to set up and keep updated - and the data within it should be easily accessible and constantly feeding your strategic decision making.

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Tom Wilcock

Written by Tom Wilcock

Tom Wilcock is the COO and Co-Founder of Expansive Solutions. He is a digital expert with a background in delivering large-scale business digital transformation. He specialises in project management, product user experience, business ecosystems and data intelligence.

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