Asset tagging is the use of tag, mark or label that is attached to IT equipment. The tag will contain a unique reference number, often called an asset number that helps identify further information about the equipment. Asset numbers are usually held in a central database.
Why is it important?
Having an individual piece of equipment that is uniquely identifiable linked to a central database is extremely important for any organisation. The asset database allows organisations to track what assets it owns, where the equipment is located, when it is due for a service as well as monitoring the cost and depreciation of the equipment.
It is also useful for monitoring assets that are issued to staff members, in order to ensure the asset is returned.
Who is responsible for asset tagging?
It is recommended that the following roles exist in the administration of asset management:
1. Senior Asset Administrator (SAA) The SAA has overall responsibility for the asset tagging process and ensures the other roles carry out their duties appropriately. The SAA would be responsible for auditing the process also.
2. Asset Administrator (AA) The AA would be responsible for maintaining the asset database, adding, removing and editing records of assets. They would issue tags to the tagging contact, and work closely with the Senior Asset Administrator.
3. Tagging Contact (TC) The TC would be responsible for physically attaching the tag to the I.T. equipment, after taking instruction from the Asset Administrator. They would work closely with the Asset Administrator to ensure the correct tag number is attached the equipment and the central database is therefore accurate.
The Tagging Process
At a minimum of one month, or more often if appropriate, the SAA, or AA will identify those assets that require tagging. This report will then be passed to the TC who will verify and tag the assets. Tags should be obtained from the SAA.
The TC should tag equipment within 30 days. Once the TC has located the assets to be tagged, they should ask the following questions:
1)Is the asset a single item?
2)Is the asset a multiple item that needs to be split?
3)Does the equipment item listed on the report represent a component of another asset already listed on the asset database?
If the answer to 2) or 3) above is yes then the TC must notify the SAA or AA so that the asset database updated and correct Tag numbers issued.
Is all equipment taggable?
Some equipment may not be taggable. If this is the case the asset database must be updated with this information. Providing the equipment is taggable the TC should physically attach a tag to the item. Tags should be easily visible. Some suggested places for tags include:
Computer equipment – on the front.
Vehicles – next to VIN number.
Microscopes – on the base.
Camera – on the back.
Refrigerators/freezers – on the front door.
It is then the TC’s role to update the SAA with the following information:
Tag Number (where appropriate)
Tagging Status (Tagged or untaggable).
Location (Building/Floor/Room Number)
Tagging Contact Name
Description of asset
This information should then be maintained on the central asset database.
Who can assist with asset tagging?
There is a growing market for asset tagging as organisations continually look for ways to maintain ever expanding, expensive equipment.
Asset tagging is a proven method in preventing equipment being stolen and ensuring it is maintained correctly. For these reasons, there is no shortage of companies on the market to carry out the process for you. Many technology-outsourcing companies offer asset tagging as an independent service. My old company used a London based IT Vendor to tag all of their equipment, and to manage the tagging process, purely because we didn’t have the time to do this ourselves.
However, it could be said that any organisations assets are their own employees. With a little training, research and a small investment in equipment, there is no reason why any organisation cannot effectively maintain its own asset register.
Technology/Software for asset tagging.
There are several methods and systems available for asset tagging, depending on the organisations budget and needs. These include:
Barcode Methods Scanners— a 2D or 3D scanner could be used depending on need. Ergonomics of the scanner should be considered. Scanners could also be used in a dual purpose role as some contain weighing scales which could be an important field on the central asset database.
Mobile computers— these can scan 1D and 2D barcodes, as well as QR code which is of course growing in popularity. WI-FI/wired services would be needed for data transfer.
Printers— in some organisations it is necessary to print custom labels or tags that could contain the organisations logo and graphics.
Radio Frequency and Identification (RFID) – RFID tags store information that identifies the item that it is attached too. An RFID reader is then used to track the items movements. RFID Readers consist of an antenna that use radio waves to collect data from RFID tags within range of the device. One advantage of an RFID reader over a barcode scanner is that it does not require a visual line of site between device and tag. Portable Computers with built in RFID scanners also have RFID capability built into them but are also able to read 1D, 2D and QR barcodes.
Software – If an organisation uses either barcode scanning or RFID technologies, then software is required to enable asset and inventory tracking on multiple features, including asset type and serial number. It is also needed to maintain a comprehensive central asset database.