10 Functions to Look for in an Asset Management Software | Part 2
Asset management software has been around for a while, however much of it has been antiquated since inception. Too many vendors care more about the sale than they do about reputation and quality. They have a one-track mind, and that’s getting to your agency pocketbook. Anything after that is not their concern. Basic functionality in software should not only be expected, it should be demanded. If a software provider cannot offer these ten functions, with superior quality and sophisticated operation, then it is software that is not worth your time, or your agency’s money. Here in part two, we’ll discuss the next five basic functions that your asset management software should have.
6- Automatically Built Reports
The first five functions we discussed talked about definitions, transfers, and records. All of that is important. But it means nothing if your asset management software is not compiling reports on each item, each group of products, and tracking these details together. Your asset manager reports to someone, and likely must supply information to several people concerning equipment and products, who are not their superior. Those people don’t have time, nor want to sift through software, item by item, to take notes and “get an idea” of what’s happening. They want clean, formatted, and organized reports that give them the information they need succinctly. And frankly, if your asset management software isn’t capable of producing multiple types of high-quality reports, it’s not managing much.
7- Sending Notifications to Personnel
It’s 2017, and all software must have the minimal in intelligent function in scope. And yet, time and again, we are reminded how many software vendors in the public safety market do not incorporate such functions into their software. We hear things like “They told us it’s coming next year,” or “They have a design team working on a plan.” In plain speak, that means it’s anyone’s guess when it will come, and more than like it never will, from that vendor anyway. To the point, asset management software should be doing more than categorizing, analyzing product quantity thresholds, and writing reports in real time. These are all basic, and very important as we have pointed out. But even asset management software must function beyond this status quo. This software should be capable of notifying personnel who has products in their possession that it will expire soon, or that it’s time for maintenance, or that they need to return it for whatever reason is at hand. First, this makes life a lot easier on your personnel. No need for multiple phone calls, text messages, and emails. A simple message, either pre-filled stating the issue, or one written from scratch if needed, and the notification is sent, and you’ll know your personnel has received it. Aside from messaging their user identification, it will also message their email and cell phone. One message, multiple points of notification, if you so desire. While automated notifications like this are basic, and highly needed, having the option of notifying personnel over multiple formats is key.
8- Product Thresholds, Product Reminders, and Purchasing Notifications
Having just mentioned a piece of this in the earlier point, it makes sense that we touch on this in full now. Product thresholds are major point of contention for agencies. Certain products need to be stocked to a certain level on a continuous basis. The method of ensuring that, up to this point, has not been an exact science. Inevitably, there’s a “vacuum” moment where that product is out of stock for some period, and then that cycle restarts with a constant fight to issue out, and re-order that product, ending with that periodic outage yet again. This should not happen, and your asset management software should be the stop-gap to such issues. Asset management software should have the ability to accept, and track product thresholds, that being a “floor” level that a certain product can reach, before re-ordering must occur. And if we’re considering intelligent function in software, notification for such thresholds shouldn’t occur when the actual floor is reached. Instead, your asset management software should be able to analyze the frequency with which a product is issued out, how long it takes to replenish, from re-ordering, formalized purchase, shipping, and then accepted into storage, so that when you begin reaching that product floor, your asset management software is alerting your asset manager that it’s time to place that re-order, factoring in the time it takes for a purchase order to be realized, and the amount of time it takes to ship said product to your agency. No longer should your asset manager be fighting uphill to accomplish proper stock of products and equipment. That is of course, if your asset management software is operating with basic functions in play.
9- Security Layers, Search, and Filters
Your asset management software, in addition to definitions for users, groups, and products, must be able to define security layers for those users, groups, and products. For example, your agency likely has a person who functions as the agency armorer. Their job entails ensuring all firearms are functioning properly. Your asset manager has supervision over firearms, not necessarily the armorer. While the asset manager checks new firearms in, issues them to personnel, that armorer is the one that comes in to ensure service, parts, and warranties on said firearms are being adhered to. In this case, the armorer needs administrative permissions within your asset management software, but only for firearms, not other products. Your asset management software needs to be able to define this role in a way that provides the armorer the access they need, to update records, perform work/service on firearms, and enter data that is reportable to agency administration. Additionally, why would you not have the ability to define the administration’s roles as being able to view reports in real time? This allows your administration to get a front-row view of what is happening, without becoming subject of an internal investigation, because the only thing they can see is the reports, and views of each product. They can’t make changes, or manipulations of the data whatsoever.
This ties us to searching functions. Asset management software should be able to provide your personnel the ability to search by keyword, by product, or associated properties. Of course, you may want to limit who can search for what, but that’s peripheral to the function. The main thing is, regardless of what is being done, the search function should work universally to anything entered into your asset management system. If your asset management software can provide fully-functional searching capabilities, then why continue to use it? Lastly in this point, filters. Filters are used to focus, or enhance data. Filters allow personnel working on larger product issues to separate certain products that may apply, or to focus on certain items within a product group to find out what problems are occurring. This may be that your agency must pinpoint faulty product delivered from a vendor, or that a specific shipment has been recalled. The point is, filters, searching, and security layers need to be part of the basic functions any asset management software.
10- Statistical Reports
We’ve talked about reports in the first point of this article, and we mentioned the need to define administration in your asset management software so that they have real-time access to reports, while being shielded as subjects of an internal investigation. We haven’t explained the types of reports that should be available in asset management software for your administration. Asset management software should offer reports that are broken down to each product held by your agency. But there also be a total financial report that provides categories of products, expenditures, along with breakdowns of what money was spent (remember that example of pistols needing extra service?) on what issue categories related to each product. These are some of the most very basic reports that should be available on demand. Additionally, your asset management software should offer you the ability to build reports of your own, utilizing the data already captured by the software. If your asset management software isn’t doing this, well, we suppose you’re catching a theme at this point, right?
These five, like the previous five, are basic considerations when it comes to asset management software, and what should be included in functionality. If you have asset management software that falls short of these ten functions, it’s time to replace your software, because it’s only a matter of time before something goes wrong, that causes your personnel to be subjected to an unnecessary internal investigation, a State-level audit, or the losses concerning your equipment and products become so great that your budget can’t keep up, making your administration look like they’ve mismanaged the whole thing. You can’t afford to have these types of problems. Invest in your agency’s efficiency. Get asset management software that solves problems, not creates them.
Be safe out there!
Related Articles: 10 Functions to Look for in an Asset Management Software | Part 1