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Why you should keep an asset register, and how to simplify inventory-taking

Suppose a new employee has joined, and you don’t have a monitor or office chair available. Maybe you don’t use any asset registration tool and you haven’t checked your warehouses, maybe you do use a register, but it has outdated data; if you’ve met with similar problems, why not start with a regular inventory of your assets. Yet, how to go about that as simply as possible, without unnecessary extra work?
Jana Mancikova

19. 1. 2023

3 reasons why you should register assets

The greatest asset of today’s companies is their people and know-how. So why should you care to keep track of assets that are less important, compared to your ‘brains trust’? Staff needs to develop their potential – with the help of technology. Employers should therefore provide suitable conditions and equipment for their employees. 

The vast majority of employees today work using company assets. That requires making sure there is enough for everyone, that nothing gets lost, and that everything is well documented in the event of a breakdown.

1.    Without registration, assets get mislaid or misappropriated, lost

If you entrust assets to employees without a record, you risk not getting them back. Without clear-cut data, you’ll lose track of what has been loaned to whom. If a leaver returned your laptop on departure, you might be inclined to trust them. Yet they might have hung on to their smartphone, or monitor. 

2.    A complete overview with the current date will keep you abreast of your situation

In a well-designed registry, you can categorize and filter assets to see what is outdated. At the same time, you easily find the relevant technical data, the manufacturer, or when the asset’s warranty period runs out.

3.    Digitization will free you from the burden of paperwork

Digital asset records also reduce your environmental footprint. What’s more, you won’t be getting snowed under by invoices and documents. Everything in digital form is easy to find – in the registry. 

How to make an asset inventory

The inventory is used to verify the record against the actual status. This is especially needed in medium-sized and larger enterprises, where assets are harder to keep an eye on, simply due to the scale of things. That’s when the technology to simplify your life and save you time comes into its own.

Physical inventorization takes up a lot of time you have better use for

The person taking stock checks on all known assets and records having found them. Inventory-taking has a very bad name in companies. Going around checking on all the company’s assets takes a huge amount of time.

Why does a physical inventory take up so much time and can that be speeded-up?

Over the years, the methodology of inventory-taking has improved significantly – nowadays it is done by scanning bar codes or RFID chips, which has indeed significantly accelerated the process. Nevertheless, that’s just the first progressive step.

Physical inventory-taking is not really well-aligned with today’s work practices.

Nowadays, the staff uses company assets at home, so they can work remotely. That makes physical inventory-taking pure hell. Trying to get staff to gather in one place at the same time with all their entrusted assets is very difficult and makes the inventorying process extremely complicated.

Digitize your inventory – let the staff do the job

If you break free from outdated inventory processes and go in a new direction, inventory-taking can get a reprieve, even a positively good name.

Leave your staff themselves to confirm the status of assets entrusted to them. Each employee can update the records of their entrusted property at a suitable time and place, within the overall initiative. 

‘By moving to self-service, where everyone confirms their own assets, our inventory-taking has become timely. Thanks to this, we have been able to include other assets, such as keys and company seals in the whole inventory-taking process,’ says Aleš Kruczek, IT and Project Office Director at ALD Automotive s.r.o.

Such an approach will dramatically reduce the time required to take stock while allowing you to refresh your asset records several times a year

Nevertheless, it does mean you have to choose a suitable tool, one which can support this method.

Creating a set of asset records is not the end of it all

Data in the registry has to be maintained and its integrity checked regularly. Keeping your database current will repay the effort many times over, by saving you time when resolving issues and problems.

Inventory in conjunction with Service Desk

If you intend to take stock regularly yet worry that you may overlook the task, an automatically scheduled interval request can be set up, to prompt you or your colleagues.

Such a request can also serve to collect information from staff, e.g. if the asset they supposedly have, according to the registry, does not match reality. 

Last but not least, the request can drive the archiving of the inventorying exercise findings. Everything is in digital form and readily to hand, as needed.

‘Web inventory allows us to easily check on entrusted assets, both internal and external. In addition, it has shortened the whole process from several weeks to a few days,’ says Marián Podmajerský, Head of the Information and Communication Technologies Department of the EMS SR Operational Centre.

How often should you take stock?

There can never be a universal recommendation. But the more often inventory is checked, the more sure you can be of the accuracy of the data in your records. Nevertheless, if you choose the wrong tools, the process can be very lengthy and costly. 

Inventory-taking once a year

We at ALVAO recommend inventory-taking once a year. It is an ideal compromise between keeping true-to-life data in your records and the effort spent on getting it there. Using modern tools will save you time, but they still have to take into account that this is a form of control that employees dislike.

The 5 most common mistakes workers make when taking inventory of assets

Let’s sum up the most common mistakes to avoid when doing an asset inventory.

1.    False-economies – when you try to take stock with as few employees as possible and with the help of inadequate tools to save money. As a result, the inventory takes longer and the process is significantly more expensive.

2.    Irregularity – inventory should be carried out in regular cycles. The longer the time since the last inventory, the greater the deviation in the records may arise and the processing of the results will cost you more effort.

3.    Outdated procedures – just like other processes, inventory-taking is an evolving and constantly improving discipline. Taking stock using newer methods can significantly save time and money. 

4.    Inopportune timing – the end of the year is hectic for many employees, both professionally and personally. It is thus not advisable to leave inventory-taking until December, but better to do it sooner.

5.    Running-scared – inventory-taking has a bad reputation and the whole process is fraught and hampered by negative attitudes. With the right tools, however, your inventory-taking can become your friendly helper.