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Considerations for Asset and Inventory Management Software

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Instantly locate supplies and equipment. Eliminate data errors. Cut overhead and improve profitability. You can make it happen by using the right inventory management and asset tracking software for your company.

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Considerations for Asset and Inventory Management Software

  1. 1. A Buyer’s Guide Inventory Management & Asset Tracking Software 2015 Cloud Solutions — What to Consider Before Purchasing an Inventory Management or Asset Tracking System PART 1 www.barcloud.netAuthor: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015
  2. 2. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 2 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems TABLE OF CONTENTS PART 1 A Guide to Cloud-Based Solutions INTRODUCTION The First Step Assets vs. Stock Inventory Terminology It’s Time to Automate Creating Your Ecosystem Finding the Right Vendor THE TECHNOLOGY The User Interface Ribbon–Based and Tree–Based Lifecycle–Based Software Interface Quickstart Dashboard How Flexible Is the System? Is It Scalable? Choosing the Right Barcode Reporting Mobile App Capabilities INTEGRATIONS Direct Integration Custom Integration Third-Party Integration UNCOVERING HIDDEN COSTS Uncovering Hidden Fees User Fees Barcode Label Fees Report Fees Barcode Catalog Fees Training Fees CONCLUSION COMPARISON OF SHORT AND LONGTERM COSTS Solutions Comparison Table YOUR PURCHASING CHECKLIST Evaluating Basic Needs Evaluating the System Architecture The True Cost of Ownership 16 16 17 18 18 18 18 19 19 20 21 22 23 24 3 4 5-6 7 8 9 10 10 11 11 12 12 13 14 15
  3. 3. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 3 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems THE FIRST STEP: YOU’RE LOOKING The fact that you are reading this e-book says that you are looking for, or at least considering, an online asset tracking and/or stock inventory management system. Maybe you have been manually tracking your assets, inventory, and associated costs using an Excel spreadsheet or just a clipboard and paper. Maybe your division just purchased a substantial amount of inventory or assets and tracking their whereabouts has become a nightmare. Whatever the case may be; you have found the right resource. The objective of this e-book is to help guide you through the key issues you should consider and important questions you should ask prior to purchasing a system. INTRODUCTION
  4. 4. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 4 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems ASSETS VS. STOCK INVENTORY: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE? Assets For most companies, an asset or fixed asset typically represents durable equipment, computing and networking devices, tools and the like. Systematically tracking these items is necessary across every industry in order to provide a record of asset value for accounting purposes, to provide information for business continuity planning, and to provide information during tech support or in the event of loss/theft. For tracking purposes, each of these assets has a unique barcode identifier (e.g. make, model, serial number, etc.). Stock Inventory Alternatively, stock inventory represents the raw materials, work-in-process goods and finished goods that you consume and store for your business needs. Some organizations monitor stock inventory quantities daily, because these items are replenished as needed to make sure there is available stock inventory for use or sale. Your typical warehouse stock inventory is tracked by a common stock item number or SKU identifier that is used for all products or items within a specific line. If the stock inventory is tracked by batch, lot or serially, then a specific batch, lot or serial barcode identifier would be used. What are your needs? From a financial perspective, fixed assets lose value over time, i.e. they depreciate. Do you need your system to track asset depreciation? Will your system allow you to track both assets and stock inventory? Most companies have a mix of fixed assets and stock inventory. Although both act as assets, each gets treated differently on a company’s financial statements. For startups seeking funding, for example, potential lenders and banks scrutinize fixed assets very closely. This is why tracking your inventory and assets separately and accurately is critical. No matter what your industry or what you are tracking — unique stock items, general inventory, business assets such as electronic equipment (PCs, laptops, mobile devices, etc.) or assets and inventory that are shared or distributed through a central operation — your organization should experience all the benefits of asset and inventory control that have been proven and are currently being used in workplaces around the world. INTRODUCTION
  5. 5. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 5 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems INTRODUCTION TERMINOLOGY Let’s define some of the inventory management and asset tracking system keywords that are used throughout this guide. Customized Built from the ground up by the vendor to meet the specific needs and functions of the customer’s unique environment. Configurable Systems that are designed to permit modification by users. In other words, tailoring an existing feature for your own personalized benefit. For example, how flexible are the data collection fields? Can you configure reports by renaming fields, adjusting or hiding tabs? Can you change the layout and terminology of the user interface so that it makes sense to you? Cloud-Based An application that runs on the internet (in the cloud) and stores data in a remote, shared server. It requires no hardware installation and can be accessed through web-browsers on any computer or mobile device with internet connection. Feature Package The bundle of functions or set of benefits that are made available to users at certain price levels. A common breakdown of feature packages is lite, standard, and professional. For example, the lite package may limit how many inventory items or assets a user can track, whereas, the professional package may include unlimited item tracking and more robust features such as asset depreciation or advanced security. Concurrent Users The number of users that are logged into the system and making changes at the same time. This is different than the total number of people that have access to the application or users who simply want to view a report. SaaS (Software as a Service) A common business software licensing and delivery model for web-based business applications. SaaS applications are designed to integrate and easily work together. They also scale easily, not only in the technical sense, but for your business and its users as well.
  6. 6. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 6 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems INTRODUCTION Out-of-the-Box Software Out-of-the-box software is a program with fixed functionalities and costs, as well as minimal database capabilities. It cannot be modified or made to scale, but may be ideal for light or very specific inventory management use. System An inventory or asset tracking “system” includes software, hardware, and support. It is a comprehensive and scalable solution that operates at an enterprise level, includes flexible functionalities, and a powerful database. Systems are installed on desktops and are therefore confined to physical locations. Clients can host a system or the vendor can host it for you. Also, systems are not exposed to the security risks of web-based applications. Mobile Barcode Computers Mobile barcode computers, referred to as “barcode scanners” in this e-book, are powerful inventory management devices used in systems to scan barcode labels, capture and store data. There are rugged, phone-size, gun-grip, wearable, and mounted models, each option designed for different technical and functional capabilities. Some barcode scanners are paired with docking stations for data synchronization. Vendors build software specifically for barcode scanners and install SQL Server databases onto them. Smart Devices Within this e-book, “smart devices” refers to smartphones, tablets, and hybrid laptops enabled by Android or Apple operating systems. Users can download mobile apps for inventory management and asset tracking onto smart devices, and use the built-in cameras to scan barcodes. TERMINOLOGY (Continued)
  7. 7. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 7 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems IT’S TIME TO AUTOMATE Tracking stock inventory or assets can be tedious and costly, especially when trying to do so manually. Perhaps your team is taking much too long to conduct physical inventory. Or, maybe there have been inaccuracies with your end-of-year inventory count. Failing to effectively trace an item’s location, quantity or history of use contributes to a number of issues, including supply shortages, inaccurate recordkeeping and lost or misplaced items. Nowadays, inventory control tasks that used to take hours or days can be performed with a few mouse clicks using an automated inventory system. Your inventory operations, as simple or complex as they may be, benefit from the streamlined inventory lifecycle involving fewer man-hours and costs associated with overseeing and holding inventory. Regardless of your industry, it’s time to automatically track every kind of asset that is essential to your organization or business, such as: ✓ Devices or stock items that are used for patient care (in healthcare/medical industry) ✓ Shared computing, networking, and electronic devices within schools, government agencies or corporate divisions. ✓ Hard copies of files, documents and paperwork that have to be stored in a physical location ✓ Temporarily loaned tools or supplies that are in the custody of employees or other organization. ✓ Parts, components, or raw materials consumed in production and typically stored in a warehouse. These are just a few examples of why a business or organization would consider automating their asset and inventory management with a system. Whatever your business reasons are — or whatever your business does — it is critical to find the right solution that fits into your process and budget. Create Your Checklist A goal of this e-book is to help you create applicable checklists that speak to your business’s specific needs at each step of the buying process. ✓ What information do you need to ask the vendor? ✓ What is the True Cost of Ownership (TCO) for an automated system? ✓ How does the vendor’s technology fit with your long–term business goals? ✓ How quickly will you receive a return on investment (ROI)? INTRODUCTION
  8. 8. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 8 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems INTRODUCTION HOW TO PREPARE . . . Answer key questions about your needs and the parameters of the project. Make a list of your pain points. CREATING YOUR ECOSYSTEM Know your needs from the start Before talking to any vendors, your first step should be to understand the needs of your organization and to assess its challenges. Ask yourself the key questions shown in the column to the right. In addition, make a list of your pain points. This will ensure clear communication between you and the vendor, and give the vendor an opportunity to demonstrate to you how their solution will address your specific needs. ✓ What is my budget? ✓ What is my current system of tracking? ✓ Am I tracking assets or stock inventory or both? ✓ What items am I tracking or do I want to track? ✓ What data do I need to collect, view, and report on? ✓ What is my biggest issue related to tracking? ✓ Do I need to host the database or should it be hosted in the cloud? ✓ How would implementing a system that solves these issues affect the business and my success within the organization? ✓ How many total users will there be? How many are concurrent users (See definition on pg. 4)? ✓ How many users will need to use a barcode scanner, RFID reader, or smart device? How many total devices will I need? ✓ Do I need an immediate “fix” or do I want my solution to grow as my company grows?
  9. 9. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 9 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems INTRODUCTION GOOD TO KNOW . . . Make sure key members of your team are present for the live demo so that the team’s needs and questions are tackled at once. FINDING THE RIGHT VENDOR How do you go about finding the right system provider and how do you know if they have the right solution? Where to look Look no further than your preferred search engine. Keyword queries such as “online inventory management,” “asset tracking system,” and “barcode inventory system” will bring up several different vendors. You can also take a look at product review sites, social media, conferences, and resellers. On the surface, many products and solutions look the same. Probe a little deeper, though, and you will discover key differences that should be considered prior to making any purchase decisions. Start with a live demo The best way to see what any system can do is to attend an online demo, and make sure it’s live and one–on–one. If there are several companies on the call, it is hard to find out how your specific needs will be addressed. If the vendor only offers a pre-recorded demo, assume that whatever the video shows is exactly what is offered by the vendor. More importantly, receiving a trial of an inventory system without going through a live demo is useless. As a user, you benefit from exploring the functionalities that will be instrumental in reaching your goals. You also determine which features you won’t need and do not want to pay for. You cannot afford to “wing it” when it comes to trying a robust and configurable system because you will waste valuable time navigating aimlessly through the database.
  10. 10. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 10 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems THE TECHNOLOGY What are the important questions you should be asking in regard to the technology? For example: How often does the company upgrade their software? Is the system locally hosted or in the cloud? What does the user interface look like? THE USER INTERFACE In the age of mobile technology, smartphones and tablets, our expectations about what a user interface should look like have changed. We expect it to be friendly, intuitive and easy–to–use, and that it looks similar to the software we are accustomed to using in our daily lives. When the vendor takes you through a live demo, you will see several different types of user interfaces, including: a ribbon–based, tree–based, lifecycle-based, or quickstart dashboard. RIBBON AND TREE–BASED USER INTERFACE Ribbon–based and tree–based are standard interfaces with the menu bar on the top or the dropdown menu on the left hand side of the screen (see example to the right). Tree Ribbon
  11. 11. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 11 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems THE TECHNOLOGY LIFECYCLE-BASED INTERFACE The lifecycle diagram acts as a visual representation of the inventory process from when a stock or asset item is received until it is issued out or disposed of. Each icon can be clicked on to navigate you to the data grid of the respective inventory or asset transaction. QUICKSTART DASHBOARD A step-by-step guide to help beginner users get started performing asset tracking or inventory management transactions within the system. It provides an organized, high-level overview of a typical process from basic setup to different ways of viewing data.
  12. 12. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 12 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems HOW FLEXIBLE IS THE SYSTEM? Make sure the system captures what you want to track. For example, you may need a budget code added to the “receive” form, or you may need your inventory or assets to be associated with a particular department. Different company cultures and infrastructures determine specific tracking system requirements. Ask these technical questions before you buy: ✓ How does the system collect data? ✓ Are you capturing all the data you need? ✓ Are the scanning devices verifying the assets or inventory each time you scan? ✓ Once the data is collected, can it be transmitted to the application via Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, 4G-LTE or USB cable? ✓ Can you assign how to track? (i.e. by box, case, drum, vial, etc.) ✓ Do you need to modify the barcode labels and configure the labels per item or per case? Is there a feature for that? ✓ Does the system include an offline mode for an added layer of security you want data to remain classified? ✓ Does it have a mobile app? ✓ Do they have an API guide? ✓ Is the system capable of full or light integrations with hundreds of apps? IS IT SCALABLE? Is the system designed to easily grow with your company? For example, your organization may, at first, need a system for 10’s of users, 100’s of asset records, and a couple barcoding devices. But, after three years of growth, you may require 100’s of users, 1,000’s of records, and 10’s of devices. During your demo or free trial, note the differences in the system’s features made available to you in each pricing tier. Ask the vendor if adding these features in the future will be billable and if you can upgrade or downgrade subscriptions at any time. When your business needs change, your system needs to be able to keep up without breaking the bank. THE TECHNOLOGY
  13. 13. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 13 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems THE TECHNOLOGY CHOOSING THE RIGHT BARCODE There are several types of barcodes actively being used today. After reading this passage you should be able to make an informed decision based on which barcode type most closely fits your needs. The most popular type of barcode that companies use for assets and stock inventory is one dimension or “1D” linear barcodes. The most common 1D barcodes are: 1 UPC 2 Code 128 3 Code 39 1 - UPC or Universal Product Code UPC barcodes are widely used in the United States for tracking consumer products such as clothing and toys that are being scanned at the point of sale (POS). Each barcode is designated for each individual product, manufacturer and product type/quantity. The UPC-A variation has twelve numerical digits and the UPC-E has six. Distinguishing Factors: ✓ Does not not carry price information ✓ To get an official UPC barcode, you must obtain a unique GS1 Company Prefix by joining GS1 ✓ Difficult to print on any equipment except printing presses Used For: ✓ Retail Stores ✓ Grocery Stores ✓ Resellers 2 -Code 128 This barcode symbology earned its name because it can hold any character of the ASCII 128 character set (all characters, digits, and punctuation marks). 1 2 3 Distinguishing factors: ✓ Broad character range ✓ High density 1D codes ✓ Compact: great data storage to size ratio Used in: ✓ Distribution ✓ Ordering ✓ Transportation 3 -Code 39 This barcode symbology allows you to use 43 upper case characters and digits. Originally, as its name suggests, its definable characters were limited to 39. It should also be noted that this barcode can only handle low density data – it requires more space to encode data than, for example, in code 128. Distinguishing factors: ✓ Decoded by all barcode readers ✓ Easily integrates with existing printing systems ✓ Does not require checksum ✓ For in-house solutions Used in: ✓ Automotive Industry ✓ US Dep. of Defense
  14. 14. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 14 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems THE TECHNOLOGY REPORTING Reports show you how your team has performed and paint a picture of what’s currently happening. They are key to driving success for any inventory or asset system. The information provided by reports is especially critical in today’s environment, where you must have a proactive approach. You should be able to identify inventory trends and act on them immediately. Don’t be held back by limited reporting capabilities. Does the system offer unlimited, custom reports or just a few built-in reports? In some cases, built-in reports get the job done, but if you suspect you will be adding reports, changing naming conventions, or adding/ removing data fields, ask the vendor if these features are billable. A truly user-friendly system will allow you to configure these changes yourself, free of cost. For example, you may want to run a series of inventory reports to quickly determine which products are needed at different business or division locations, but the items at each location are unique and specific to your group. You will need a reporting tool that allows you to configure inventory reports for each entity you’re working with. QUESTIONS TO ASK . . . Does the system allow you to change report formats? Will it allow you to create role-based visibility restrictions? Can you automatically send scheduled reports? Basic or Built-in Report Report Configured by a Client Your Company Name Your Address Line1 Your Address Line2 ASAP Systems Headquarters 355 Piercy Road San Jose, CA 95138
  15. 15. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 15 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems THE TECHNOLOGY MOBILE APP CAPABILITIES Does the system include a mobile app and does it meet today’s standards? Don’t be fooled by vendors with web apps that can only be accessed through mobile browsers — they can’t perform all the functions of a true mobile application. In your search for a system you will find inventory mobile apps that are standalone in nature, and some that are extensions of an inventory or asset tracking system that are free to download with paid software subscriptions. Both options save you from buying costly barcode scanners, but the latter is the more comprehensive solution. When evaluating mobile app features, determine if the app leverages the latest technologies and inventory management trends: • Can you set up and automatically send triggered SMS text or email notifications? • Does the mobile app include GPS or Routing capabilities? With the availability of mapping services such as Google Maps, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, and ESRI, asset routing and mapping should be included in the system. • Can you be running the application and still receive phone calls? • Does the app include Bluetooth connectivity? Some mobile barcode scanners pair with smartphones running mobile apps for inventory and asset tracking through Bluetooth. • Is it a cross-platform app, downloadable in the iOS and Android app stores? BRING YOUR OWN DEVICE (BYOD) For added convenience at minimal cost, your company can implement a BYOD policy, taking advantage of the built-in cameras that serve as fully functional barcode readers in smartphones and tablets. Employees, ranging from inventory managers to technicians and clerks, can use their personal smartphone/ tablet to manage inventory or assets, and scan barcodes on the go. It is a policy that, if implemented with internal security measures and best practices, can improve workflow and remove cost of purchasing hardware for barcode scanning.
  16. 16. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 16 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems INTEGRATIONS Whether it’s for inventory management, customer relationship management, accounting, or communication, you utilize an array of web apps to get you through your workday. Knowing this, make sure the web- based inventory or asset control system you are evaluating has integration capabilities, so that you can leverage the online tools at your disposal. Most importantly, the system should have an Open Source API. An API, or Application Program Interface, is made up of groups of protocols/instructions and pieces of code crafted by programmers. Its purpose is for building software applications or allowing an application to communicate with another application for specific purposes. DIRECT INTEGRATION Open-Source APIs enable the sharing of data between applications so that content created in one application can be dynamically posted and updated in another web location. For the end user, such as yourself, a good API can 1) save you time through reduced data entry and 2) extend the usefulness of a web application, such as BarCloud, by allowing more applications and their features to integrate with it. CUSTOM INTEGRATION The beauty of an API is that anyone can use it to develop their own application in order to integrate inventory management or asset tracking functionalities into it. If you are only interested in a couple features to add to your workflow, and you have a software engineer handy, take advantage of this integration option. The vendor should have their API hosted on their website and be able to answer questions related to it.
  17. 17. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 17 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems INTEGRATIONS THIRD-PARTY INTEGRATION Another form of integration for cloud-based inventory systems is through a third party. Web automation platforms enable you to connect web applications without the need for custom coding work on your end. The third party service handles the API work for you, acting as the glue between your barcode inventory system and the web app. That way, you can automatically move and manage specific pieces of data between your system and, for example, a CRM, Task Management, or eCommerce application. Find out if this time-saving form of integration is offered, and which online apps you can connect with. When evaluating the integration capabilities of inventory or asset tracking systems, here are some aspects to consider: 1. Which applications do you want to integrate with? 2. What data do you want to integrate? Stock item numbers? Vendor info and sales orders? Maintenance dates? 3. Which system or application do you envision to be primary and secondary? In other words, do you want your inventory system (primary) to gather data on your stock items, Work-in-Process, raw materials, and fixed assets and integrate that data with your accounting application (secondary) or vice versa? 4. Does the system publish their API online? 5. Do you require a complete two-way data integration or would you only like to push individual pieces of data one way?
  18. 18. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 18 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems In business, the expression, “there is no such thing as a free lunch,” means that there is always a cost, no matter how indirect or hidden. This saying holds true when looking to invest in an inventory management system, but do you know the factors that make up the cost? You may be aware of some clear-cut vendor fees, but let’s go over some hidden fees that you may be overlooking. USER FEES How does the vendor charge for users? Make sure they are charging for concurrent users, which are users who are logged in, making changes at the same time. For example, you may have fifty employees but forty are “view-only” users that do not perform any transactions in the system, they just need to look at the data. The remaining ten are concurrent users who are actively making changes at any given time. Do not waste your money buying more licenses than needed. Before purchasing, determine how many users only need to view data and how many need to be using the app simultaneously. BARCODE LABEL FEES Can you configure the barcode labels or is there an additional charge for that? Configuring barcode labels includes adding elements such as a company logo, date, time and item name to the tag. So before getting too excited, be sure there aren’t additional charges for this ability in your inventory management or asset tracking system. REPORT FEES Ask the vendor if there is an additional cost to create a new report or to add, modify or edit an existing report. Are there limitations to how many reports you can create? If your company grows substantially over the next year and there is a dire need to effectively report more often, vendors may take advantage of your growth by tacking on hidden fees. Also, be aware if a vendor establishes reporting restrictions. UNCOVERING HIDDEN COSTS BSA002 BSA002 I77 12/1/2014 3:37:51 PM Sony HD Cam Atropine Sulfate, 20mL MDV Basic Asset Barcode Basic Stock Barcode Custom Asset Barcode Custom Stock Barcode Atropine Sulfate, 20mL MDV
  19. 19. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 19 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems UNCOVERING HIDDEN COSTS BARCODE CATALOG FEES Does the vendor offer a barcode catalog with item or stock numbers, descriptions and images free of charge? A barcode catalog can sometimes make your inventory process easier and faster by simply scanning a barcode location from a list instead of walking to the physical location and scanning the item. Can you create your own additional catalogs or are there preset catalogs? Asking these questions can help reduce potential fees. TRAINING FEES People change jobs frequently. If your system admin leaves the company or is simply on vacation, your inventory or asset management solution shouldn’t stop or pause because of this incident. Find out if the vendor can continue training other members of your staff or if impromptu training is an additional charge? If the inventory system is user-friendly and support-oriented, there shouldn’t be an issue with training fees.
  20. 20. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 20 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems CONCLUSION Inventory management and asset tracking systems have become a cornerstone of operational strategies, due to their ability to streamline workflow in a highly cost-effective manner. Since inventory is a complex and ever-changing discipline, the technology and software involved will continue to advance and become more sophisticated. Companies face an array of choices in the inventory management software market that is relatively mature but still evolving. The key differentiators that position SaaS cloud inventory solutions at the forefront of the evolving market are: ✓ Options for cloud-hosted, client-hosted, and vendor-hosted systems ✓ Mobile app for inventory and assets control from smart devices and tablets ✓ Offline mode for performing and storing secure inventory transactions without Wi-Fi or data connection ✓ Routing, mapping, and/or GPS asset tracking capabilities ✓ Direct, custom, and third-party integration options to connect with other online business apps ✓ Automated management of all types of inventory • Standard, serialized, and items with expiration dates, batch numbers, and lot numbers Choosing the right vendor means conducting a meticulous internal evaluation to determine your business priorities, needs, and goals. Is upper management on board with the investment? Do you have the right team in place to handle an inventory system? And, have you put KPIs in place to measure the return on your investment? With the answers to these questions, your organization will be prepared to buy a system and start deriving benefits from automating inventory management and asset tracking.
  21. 21. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 21 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems A COMPARISON OF SHORT AND LONGTERM COSTS Use this table to compare the true short and long-term costs of three types of inventory management or asset tracking solutions: Out-of-the-Box, Custom, and Cloud/Web-based. The dollar figures in the chart are hypothetical but based on market research. TYPE OF SOLUTION ESTIMATED INITIAL INVESTMENT $2,000 $95/concurrent user/ month $100,000 $7,000 + Wasted Workforce Time $0 $100,000+ ✓ The canned reports were too vague and needed adjustment ✓ Needed more reports ✓ Users became frustrated because they wanted to only see the data that is relevant to their job functions, but couldn’t. ✓ You realize that “one–size–fits–all” doesn’t fit ✓ You realize what will fit is going to cost you an average $195 per hour for information gathering, engineering, Q&A, deliveries, etc. - assuming that the vendor is capable of delivering ✓ This list can go on . . . ✓ You configure dozens of reports yourself to meet your operational requirements at no additional cost. ✓ You show, hide, and rename data collection fields ✓ You set up tiers of role-based security rules for your team ✓ On a user level, team members can view the data that is relevant to their job ✓ And the list goes on... ✓ Your initial investment is exactly what that is — initial ✓ You are an endless revenue stream for the vendor ✓ Most aspects of your interaction with the vendor are billable ADDITIONAL COST 3–6 MONTHS LATER WHAT HAPPENED AFTER A FEW WEEKS OF USAGE? Out–of–the–box Cloud/Web-based Fully Customized
  22. 22. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 22 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems YOUR PURCHASING CHECKLIST EVALUATING BASIC NEEDS Use this table to remind you of core needs as they relate to your stock inventory or fixed asset operation, as well as their costs (if any). Am I tracking any unique items? (i.e. capital assets, tools, people, office equipment, etc.) Am I tracking quantity–based items? (i.e. stock inventory, supplies, etc.) Are my quantity–based items serialized, lot–based, or batch–based? Besides tracking common asset movements, do I need to track shared assets that are checked in/out with return dates? Do I have tracking needs outside of the common acquisitions, moves and disposals? (i.e. maintenance tracking or Work-in-Progress (WIP), depreciation, routing, integrations, etc.) YESQUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR ECOSYSTEM NO COST COMMENTS
  23. 23. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 23 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems YOUR PURCHASING CHECKLIST EVALUATING THE SYSTEM ARCHITECTURE How will the online inventory or asset system work in your environment? These are the top technical aspects to consider. Use this table to compare and evaluate each vendor’s technical offerings. Is the interface easy to use? Do you have options for the interface (e.g. ribbon-, tree-, lifecycle- based interfaces)? Is the system inherently configurable (i.e. no need for paid customizations)? Does the system work with 1D barcodes, 2D barcodes, and/or RFID tags? Are you able to rename, add, or hide data fields throughout the software? Is it cloud-based? Does is offer a true mobile app? QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SYSTEM COST COMMENTS Does it leverage the latest tracking technologies (e.g. GPS, data storage, dynamic data grids)? Does it have an Open Source API? Does it include direct integrations and, if so, which ones? Does it include integration options for web apps through a third- part service? Is the system scalable with regard to number of smart devices, users, and data it can handle? Does the mobile app include an offline mode? YES NO COST
  24. 24. Author: Elie Jean Touma CEO, ASAP Systems - Copyright ASAP Systems 2015 www.barcloud.net 24 A Buyer’s Guide to Online Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Systems YOUR PURCHASING CHECKLIST THE TRUE COST OF OWNERSHIP Aside from addressing basic and technical needs, the buying decision often comes down to cost. Use this table to review and evaluate potential line items that will appear in your quote. Does this vendor match my current needs and budget? Does this vendor match my current needs and budget? Is there a limit to how many sites/locations you can track, and is there an additional charge per site? Is there a limit to how many sites/locations you can track, and is there an additional charge per site? If you need to add, modify or edit your reports at a later time, will it cost extra? If you need to add, modify or edit your reports at a later time, will it cost extra? Are the pricing tiers based on concurrent users, mobile licenses, total users, and/or total devices? Are the pricing tiers based on concurrent users, mobile licenses, total users, and/or total devices? Are you confined to bundled features in pricing tears or can you choose the ones you want to include? Are you confined to bundled features in pricing tears or can you choose the ones you want to include? Do you foresee any custom work needed to be done down the road? Do you foresee any custom work needed to be done down the road? COST COMMENTSVENDOR EVALUATION — IS IT A GOOD FIT? VENDOR B VENDOR A YES NO COST

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