Tools misplacement, a lack of reliable asset records, and even equipment theft are just some of the common challenges that can result from a weak tool tracking software system.
If you’ve ever experienced this, you’re not alone.
Managing inventory is a challenge for many companies, especially when you’re dealing with small tools. Many of them are mobile and become hard to track as they move from one worker to another. This often results in workers spending time each day looking for equipment, instead of getting work done.
To avoid these setbacks, managers are now mostly turning to cloud-based tracking solutions. They can help you keep an accurate inventory, increase productivity, improve your efficiency, and so much more.
The benefits of incorporating tool tracking software into your operations can’t be denied.
However, with so many choices on the market how do you begin to identify the right one?
Start By Understanding Your Unique Business Needs
There are numerous aspects to be considered when choosing software. One of the most essential elements is to understand the unique needs of your business.
These are just some of the questions that can help you determine the unique needs of your business. Once you have a thorough understanding of these, you’ll be able to know what systems to put in place to help you meet these needs.
As mentioned, tool tracking software can play a critical role in helping you run more efficiently. However, choosing the right software can be overwhelming.
To help you make an informed decision, here’s what you need to look into when deciding on a tool tracking solution.
What to Look For in a Tool Tracking Software
Tool tracking software typically comes with multiple features. You know you don’t need all of them. So, which ones are a must-have?
1. User-Friendly Product Tutorials and Training
Regardless of how tech-savvy you or your workers are, it helps to have tool tracking software that comes with a detailed product tutorial and training. This will ensure that each worker is using the software correctly and to its full capabilities.
It also reduces the amount of time and expenses it will take to fix operational problems because it wasn’t used properly.
While many new products will come with standard tutorials, ensure that the tool tracking software you choose has tutorials that are easy to understand for your different team members.
What do we mean by this?
Well, studies have shown that we retain information differently. Some people may want to read up on the product, while others may prefer more of a visual presentation, such as a video tutorial.
Having both options will help the different types of people on your team easily understand the information.
2. End to End Tool Management
At its core, tool management is about understanding:
- What you have
- How many you have of it
- Where it currently is
- Where it’s due to go
- Where it has been.
Of course, it’s a challenge to keep track of all this information, especially when you’re dealing with multiple tools and workers.
An end-to-end solution that handles all this information, including aspects such as installation, implementation, and maintenance, will help to make life a little easier for you.
They can also be cost-effective as you won’t need to buy additional tools.
3. A GPS Feature
Many companies have mobile assets and require them to be on different sites.
For instance, in a construction company, managers can dispatch tools to various departments that are on different sites.
In this situation, how can you ensure that all your tools are accounted for?
A GPS tracking system can help. With this feature, you can keep tabs on your inventory by simply scanning the barcodes and QR codes.
If your tools are at different sites, you’ll be able to locate the precise coordinates of the tools at any given time.
4. Easy Check-In and Checkout
A traditional tool tracking system can make it difficult to keep accurate, real-time data. And when this happens, challenges such as tool misplacement or even theft can easily occur.
To safeguard your machinery or equipment from this, you’ll need to ensure that your tool tracking software comes equipped with a smooth check-in and check-out system.
What this usually entails is asset tags, which are placed on the tools so that when a worker checks out the instrument, the tag is scanned.
We’ll discuss this in detail a little later. For now, it’s important to understand that asset tags make it easy for supervisors to keep accurate trails of which users have specific equipment at all times.
Having this feature can also help to improve user accountability of each tool that is checked out.
5. Maintenance Scheduling
To appreciate the importance of a tool tracking system with a maintenance schedule, you have to understand the concept of preventative maintenance.
Your Articulate Library highlights that preventative maintenance refers to maintenance as "keeping or retaining equipment or assets in a satisfactory operating condition through periodic inspections, lubrication, calibration, replacements, and overhauls".
In essence, preventative maintenance helps to keep your daily operations running by reducing the instances of equipment breakdowns.
When looking for a tool tracking software system, it makes sense then to seek a system that comes equipped with a maintenance plan which schedules the repairs.
This plan will also help keep track of the repair history of your equipment. In addition, when the tools are sent in for maintenance, it will automatically alert the users, so that they may be aware and plan accordingly.
All this will help to improve the overall efficiency and productivity of your department.
6. Cloud-based Tool Tracking Software
Workspaces have changed significantly over the past few years.
We’ve seen an increase in remote workers, and because of technology, we’re now able to connect with multiple co-workers for meetings or work conferences, regardless of timezones or geography.
This convenience has made us all a little more mobile, and it makes sense that the solutions we integrate into our companies can accommodate this mobility.
Look for a tool tracking software system that is cloud-based and will allow your team members to have access to relevant department information, regardless of their locations.
In addition to improved access to information, these tools also help to improve team collaboration and worker management, making it easy for you to stay on top of all matters concerning your team.
7. Easy Integration and Additional Features
It can be complicated, time-consuming, and at times non-budget-friendly, to work with separate online systems.
Unfortunately, this is the case for many companies. They have different departments, tools, and systems, which they can’t integrate into one system.
To save you and your team this headache, look for tool tracking software that enables integrations of multiple systems.
For instance, if you have an accounting application as well as a CRM tool, it will help you to have tool tracking software that allows you to integrate these systems and not use them separately.
An added advantage to this feature is that it will enable all departments and supervisors to have easier access to the information they require at any time.
8. Automated Alerts
Earlier, we discussed the importance of having a GPS feature on your system that allows you to track the exact location of each of your tools.
In addition to their whereabouts, it’s essential to be notified about other aspects of the equipment.
- Has an employee checked out equipment for the day but hasn’t used it?
- Is one of the work vehicles going above the speed limit?
Having a tool tracking software system with alerts to inform of this and other important information will help you stay on top of each aspect of your department.
This feature can also play a role when your equipment needs maintenance or system upgrades.
When it’s time, alerts will automatically generate, and this will ensure that your tools are always well kept so that they can perform at their best.
9. Reporting Capabilities
In addition to receiving alerts, you also want a system that can offer you asset data reports.
Equipment depreciation, check out history, and delivery reports, are some of the reports you might want to automatically set up for your convenience.
Remember that a cloud-based solution is ultimately about making your life a little easier.
Having these capabilities will go a long way in helping you reach that goal.
10. Simple Asset Tagging System
We can describe asset tagging as the process of labeling your business assets with tags or labels.
When they are labeled and tagged, each piece of equipment is given a unique code, which helps to keep track of the real-time data of the equipment.
This feature ensures that your business assets are correctly identified and easily tracked at all times. It can also help to reduce loss and misplacement as the products are easily categorized in the system by type, size, color, model, and other attributes.
There are different types of asset tagging systems on the market. However, they aren’t all created equal.
When deciding on a tool tracking software system, pay attention to the asset tagging feature offered and its capabilities.
Asset tagging with a phone and QR codes will help you achieve easier inventory management that requires no third-party vendors.
That, combined with a rich categorization system in the software will streamline your tool tracking in no time.
What to Avoid in a Tool Tracking Software
Now that you’re clear on the specific features to look for in your tool tracking software, what exactly should you be avoiding?
1. No Real-Time Updates
As we’ve already discussed, automated alerts of your tools and equipment play an important role in reducing misplacements and tool accountability.
How can you achieve this when the software you use doesn’t offer you real-time updates?
You need to know the current situation in your business, so you can make informed, and timely decisions, and you cannot do that if the program you use doesn’t provide fast, real-time updates.
If it’s not indicated as one of the features, make sure to either call or email the supplier to ask about this important aspect.
2. A Limited Number of Tools
You might be tracking 20-50 different pieces of equipment if you own a small business, but you also might need to track thousands of different assets.
If you’re running a company with multiple departments that all require tool management, how do you choose which equipment to track and which not to?
It’s, therefore, important to ensure that the software you opt for can accommodate and integrate all these tools. Some software will limit the number of tools that you can track at any given time.
So, before you start shopping, first understand:
- The number of tools you already have
- The additional tools you need
- How easy it will be to integrate it all on the tool tracking system.
Ensure that you seek a solution that won’t limit the efficiency of your teams.
3. A Complicated System
In addition to choosing software with the right number of tools, you’ll need to ensure that your workers find the software easily understandable and usable.
We spoke earlier about the importance of product tutorials and training.
But, no matter how much training they offer, some products are simply much more complicated than others, don’t follow a logical workflow, and have a poor user experience.
This will make the days of your workers unnecessarily more challenging.
So, have a look at the reviews and the ratings for the products.
Also, have open communication with your workers so that they can communicate any challenges they may be facing.
This will help to ensure that you can decide whether or not the software system is relevant for your company.
4. High Training Costs
When you integrate new software into your business operations, training is an inevitable part of the process.
The complexity of the chosen software ties into the higher training costs.
Look out for software that requires costly training solutions as additional costs can be a challenge, especially for small businesses or start-ups that are already dealing with limited financials and resources.
5. No Free Trial
When it comes to new software, you can never really know how you and your team will adjust to it, until you actually give it a try.
But, what happens when the program is slower or less efficient than you had anticipated?
What happens when you realize that there’s actually another product on the market that can offer you the same or even better features?
It’s essential to look for software that offers you a free trial. This can be a two-week trial, a 30-day trial, etc.
Whatever the plan, it’s important that you have an opt-out option, should you decide that the product is not really relevant for your business.
6. No Access Control
Search Security defines access control as “a security technique that regulates who or what can view or use resources in a computing environment.”
Access control helps to minimize external and sometimes internal threats and risks to the company.
With this in mind, what happens when you have a large team of people? Won’t that put some of your sensitive information at risk?
It’s essential to look for a system that allows access control. This is not to say that it should be siloed or exclusive, but rather, allow specific levels of control for specific users.
For instance, the admin may need to edit some information, team leaders may need to update which equipment was used, while some workers may only need to access the data, check-in or out, and not necessarily amend any of it.
Having these viewing or editing capabilities will ensure that relevant team members can make the required contributions or edits, while also allowing other team members access to the information.
7. Not Available on Any Device
While the software can be affordable and offer great features, is it available on different devices?
Will different team members be able to access the relevant information on their laptops, PCs, phones, tablets, etc.?
Considering how on-the-go we are as a society, it’s important to look for software that accommodates this and also accommodates different types of devices.
Avoid systems that require you to buy too much additional hardware.
While you need to scan and print labels for your tools, the majority of that can be automated and doesn’t necessarily require additional hardware.
That can be an unnecessary addition to your costs and end up overcomplicating the systems.
8. It Doesn’t Solve Your Business Challenges
At the end of the day, you can have the latest and fanciest software, but if it doesn’t help you solve some of the challenges you’re currently facing in your business, what is the point?
Understand that technology is designed to do exactly that - solve our pain points and make our lives a little easier.
Seek a tool management system that meets and hopefully surpasses these expectations.
Choose the Right Tool Tracking Software For Your Business
We can’t emphasize enough the importance of proper tool tracking for your business efficiency. However, finding the right system for that can be an overwhelming process.
To overcome this challenge, start by understanding your unique business needs.
Once you’re clear on this aspect, you can then search for solutions that meet your needs and even surpass them, based on the features they offer.
This will help to ensure that you improve your team’s efficiency, productivity, and overall bottom line.