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Every facilities management professional has a vast number of physical assets under his or her purview, from furniture and art, to tools and materials. Maintaining an inventory of all these assets is a labor-intensive, error-prone task if each individual item has to be physically located and manually counted. Bar coding has long been used as way to speed up inventories, and RFID technology is becoming ever more common as an FM asset management tool. Which technology is the right one for your facility?

John Rimer, writing in FacilitiesNet.com, outlines 7 steps to choosing the best technology for facilities management, including asset management systems. His recommendations:

  1. Identify the stakeholders– senior management, human resources, finance, and end users – and determine the impact the asset management technology will have on their work. Ideally, everyone will benefit from the new technology.
  2. Examine the workflow for your facility’s asset management, and look for problem areas. Are there duplications of effort? Inaccuracies? Incomplete communications? Safety issues? Then define your target workflow, one that asset management technology can help to achieve.
  3. Develop system requirements that fit the target workflow needs. If your assets are primarily large and easy to access, like furniture or file folders, a bar code system could be the solution. If your organization has many assets in warehouses, or a large quantity of small items, a combination of handheld and doorway-mounted RFID readers may be the right fit.
  4. Research potential providers by talking to colleagues, attending industry conferences, and talking to third-party experts. Set specifications for your ideal vendor – areas of expertise, years in business, product lines, etc. – and create a short list of vendors who fit your requirements.
  5. Solicit proposals from the vendors on your short list, including your goals for the technology, and a detailed scope of work. Remember: the lowest bid isn’t always the best bid, and a bargain price may be masking a lack of functionality or robustness.
  6. Interview top candidates and give them a “script” of several tasks which their technology should be able to solve. Then observe a demo of their solution for these tasks, looking particularly for ease of use, flexibility, and intuitiveness.
  7. Negotiate the contract with the successful candidate, and work with them to develop an implementation plan.

Keep in mind that the system you choose, whether it’s RFID or bar code or a combination of both, should be able to grow with your organization into the future.

Your FM operation is unique. The ideal asset management technology vendor will be willing to consult with you to determine the best system for your workflow needs and the stakeholders’ goals, prior to any sale. Choose a vendor who can customize the technology to fit your unique needs, one who will stand by you, and stand behind their products, for the long term.

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