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So you’ve heard the benefits of an asset tracking and management system from industry experts, and now you’re thinking that investing in an asset management platform would be the right move for your business.

Industry experts are correct: The right asset management system can drastically reduce costs, improve productivity and streamline operations across an organization. Not only can contractors determine the location of all tools and equipment, but many asset management platforms provide decision-makers with full visibility into daily operations, data analytics and real-time communication. Equipping employees with a program that helps maximize efficiency and accuracy in the field will result in more optimized operations, accurate reporting and increased profitability throughout the business.

As prudent decision-makers, construction business leaders will have a number of questions before deciding which system or platform will work best for their companies. To help contractors get started in the selection process, here’s a list of questions most often.

1. What counts as an “asset,” anyway? Is my business able to track consumables and materials? What about large machinery?

Broadly, an asset is anything of value, tangible or intangible. So consumables, materials, tools and large machinery all count as assets. And all can and should be tracked. But one size doesn’t fit all, and the specific characteristics of each type of asset will require different tracking parameters. So the asset or tool management tracking system contractors select should have the flexibility to manage tools and equipment efficiently across branch offices, warehouses, tool cribs, jobsites and trucks, in a wide range of settings. The system also should provide real-time data tailored to the office, warehouse and field, according to each department’s specific needs.

2. How can I measure a construction operations platform’s ROI?

The well-known formula for calculating ROI is:

ROI = (Net Profit / Cost of Investment) x 100

But what does that mean in real-world tool tracking terms? Contractors may have a good idea of the areas where costs are out of hand, or they may have areas of leakage they’re not aware of. Factors contractors should balance in determining an operations management system’s ROI include reduced expenditure on replacement items; time saved in more efficient requisitions and returns; improved efficiency in the field, warehouse and office; reduced opportunity costs of maintaining antiquated systems; cost of training employees on a new system and many more. The system selected should have customizable ROI forecasting and reporting capability built in to simplify the process.

3. What is the difference between barcode and BLE asset tracking?

Bluetooth Low Energy asset tracking systems transmit data using Bluetooth technology. This has many advantages, including the ability to automate the scanning of assets with unattended BLE gateways. Contractors can scan multiple BLE tags at the same time and can scan tags from up to 270 feet away. Barcoding, on the other hand, requires the reader to be physically proximate to the object being scanned, and only one item can be scanned at a time.

4. My team is hesitant to adopt new software systems. How can I persuade them to use an operations management solution?

Reluctance to adopt technological approaches to “how we’ve always done it” is common in the construction and related industries—especially among older workers. The best way to overcome this resistance is by listening to concerns respectfully and explaining carefully how new technology can make doing their jobs easier, more accurate and more efficient. For example, mention recent tool or equipment losses that affected their jobs and show how a tool tracking system could prevent future snafus on the worksite. Or point out how an easy-to-use handheld device can save them time on the job while ensuring more accuracy. And because seeing is believing, ask a prospective vendor to provide a live demonstration in the field so staff can try out the system for themselves. Finally, be sure to point out that they’ll receive full training in the new system so they can use it with confidence in their daily routines.

5. What sort of information can I gain from implementing an operations management platform? What kind of reports can I generate? Can I create my own? 

While solutions differ, the platform should provide clear and actionable data reports that help contractors make decisions and run their businesses. They’ll also want to select a platform that integrates with any other enterprise software they might use, such as your accounting and ERP systems, and offers a wide variety of built-in reports for accounting, inventory, forecasting, warehousing, ROI and dozens of other critical business functions. And yes, the ideal system will allow contractors to create your own custom reports.

6. Will my construction operations management platform integrate with other systems I currently use?

It depends. Obviously seamless integration with existing systems is essential, and incompatibilities would be costly. The most sophisticated systems will be fully compatible with all major enterprise systems and with leading handheld hardware manufacturers. So take careful note of the prospective vendor’s implementation and support capability to ensure smooth integration with current software.

A comprehensive operations management system can improve tool and equipment retention, prevent costly project delays, reduce cost overruns, and boost field and warehouse productivity.

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