Companies overseeing a great deal of equipment can greatly benefit from check-in/check-out software.
Some organizations use such solutions for inventory, which only moves within the company and between employees. This can take place in the same building or across several widespread branches and work sites.
Other organizations circulate items amongst their clients, such as libraries, car rental companies, and sporting goods establishments.
This post is especially useful for COOs of such companies, particularly those which engage in check-in/check-out procedures internally or externally.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- what check-in/check-out software is
- how companies can benefit from using such software
- some common ways to use check-in/check-out software.
Choosing the best software for this task is vital for organizing and expediting the process.
What Is Check-in/Check-Out Software?
Before making decisions about check-in/checkout software, it’s important to understand what it is and how it works.
First, companies choose which items to tag and track. In the most efficient systems, a unique quick response (QR) code tag is attached to each asset.
Even if a computer lab has five monitors of the same make and model available for check-out, each will have its own tag. This will ensure unique tracking.
The tag might be made of durable polyester or metal, and attached with a safe, archival adhesive.
If the item will be exposed to extreme conditions and must prepare for more rugged treatment, QR codes are welded or attached with an industrial epoxy. Most are tamper-evident and constructed for difficult removal.
The organization then ensures that the assets are scanned during check-in and check-out.
Check-in/check-out systems allow organizations to track, gather, and interpret data as these items cycle in and out of various checkpoints.
In some setups, the items must return to a central point, such as a tool crib, before dispatching back to the field, another office, or the general public. Other organizations move items from hand to hand with each scan.
Items are easily linked to the user or employee with the following:
- ID cards
- employee badges
- security codes
- in-system identifiers such as gym membership cards
In addition to allowing the company to see who is taking charge of the item, it stores valuable data about its movement.
Benefits of Check-in/Check-Out Software
Recording the check-in/check-out procedure with pencil and paper or a basic spreadsheet is possible, but transferring the process to well designed check-in/check-out software yields a great number of organizational profits.
Many of these profits are quickly realized.
Below are just some of the benefits a business can realize by investing in check-/check-out software.
1) Increased Transparency and Productivity
Investing in a robust check-in/check-out software prevents the unauthorized use of assets or inventory by employees or clients. This results in increased accountability and productivity, no matter the organization.
Theft is more easily prevented, both in-house as well as from thieves preying from the outside.
Not only does using tracking and check-in/check-out software optimize supply chain management, it provides a data chain for managers to follow.
Paper records are easily altered, as are old fashioned spreadsheet programs.
Using check-in/check-out software allows transparency: there is a record of each move an item makes is and it is tagged to a specific employee.
The performance indicators generated by such systems also provide measurable goals. They also show real-time data about how well employees and divisions are meeting them.
Such systems also allow multiple employees to view the data at the appropriate security level determined by decision makers. This helps eliminate the problem of a lost binder or user-only desktop software programs.
Finally, check-in/check-out software clears time in the busy shifts of employees and operators.
It does so by speeding up warehouse tasks, clocking in and clocking out procedures, and preventing wasteful hunts for parts or other objects.
2) Real-Time Location Updates
Check-in/check-out software’s location updates offer much more information and usefulness to companies than merely GPS-based theft detection and tracking.
The software also enables smoother supply chain movement and general operations.
In addition to reporting on an item’s location in real time, it also provides data on how quickly it moved, the routes it took, and what an average delay looks like in peak seasons.
All of this can help decision makers to plan for work cycles, test ways to make supply chains more efficient, and shorten shipping times.
When all employees, branches, and subdivisions check equipment in and out in a consistent, orderly manner, operators have a better idea of an item’s location, purpose, and, if necessary, due date.
If an employee is assigned a certain piece of equipment, there is no guesswork as to where the item might be—it’s with the employee, in the field, or on its way back to a home location.
Fleet managers are empowered with this knowledge, and the data QR scanning provides will stream updates and instant maintenance requests. Managers can even unlock equipment use from remote locations.
When such a system syncs across time zones and areas, a helpful overview of asset deployment is provided.
3) More Effective Maintenance and Planning
Keeping track of how certain assets are used and travel throughout a company makes it easier for decision makers to predict when an item requires maintenance.
This, in turn, allows for more effective planning for future projects.
For example, before a major piece of equipment experiences downtime for regularly scheduled upgrades, inspections, or cleaning, managers can arrange for rental substitutions. Alternatively, they can assign the particular team which uses it to other projects.
Here are other ways check-in/check-out software helps an organization with maintenance and planning:
- Expenses are spread across expected maintenance periods, and costly panic rentals are avoided
- Automatic scheduling avoids work conflicts
- Better service to clients through realistic timeline provision
- Increased efficiency across all departments
- QR code usage provides for the inclusion of digital operator manuals and manufacturer recommendations
- Produces measurable results and data for comparison
- Demonstrates regulation compliance
- Helps with warranty claims
The valuable information provided by check-in/check-out software allows decision makers to more closely and accurately track an item’s life cycle.
If an asset’s work time is monitored in work hours, mileage, or some other metric, the check-in/check-out software can easily provide answers about how often and how heavily it is used.
4) Managing Remote Work
An established and effective check-in/check-out software system proves consistently useful when employees are in the field, deployed to other branches, or working remotely in a different time zone.
Contemporary asset tracking allows several users to log into the software at once, allowing multiple views with any number of possible combinations of access.
The COVID-19 pandemic radically shifted how workplaces operate. Some of these changes will remain for the foreseeable future.
Many employers have found that remote working is more profitable and efficient for an organization.
However, these benefits spawned a new set of problems.
How can managers track corporate assets which have never before left a building and now might be passed hand to hand amongst many employees? How will assets and supplies be distributed to employees?
Check-in/check-out software has provided the solution.
Now, corporate assets show a precise GPS location, one which is viewable to any authorized employee.
This eliminates solely relying on employees to keep track of an asset. It also reduces the time it might take to text, call, or search for where an item was last left.
Staff members who work from home are also seeing major shifts in how IT calls and maintenance requests are handled.
Employees requiring computer repair might see technicians in their homes, or drop the item at a predetermined location.
This also means that the ordering and maintaining of basic supplies has evolved beyond the need for an office manager.
For example, if an employee needs a toner, he or she might file a request from a tablet, or even order directly for a shipment from a company account.
This dramatically changes how office supplies get distributed, and check-in/check-out software has contributed to these developments in a major way.
How to Use Check-in/Check-Out Software
Even the most carefully designed and implemented check-in/check-out software can’t work for an organization if stakeholders, decision makers, clients, and employees fail to implement it properly.
Following these procedures will help to ensure a flying start for any check-in/check-out software system.
1) Create Custom Labels
Some asset tracking systems rely on barcodes or RFID technologies. While these are useful under certain conditions, none have the flexibility and scalability which QR codes offer.
A unique numeric or alphanumeric code provides a backup form of identification and reference should the QR code becomes unscannable.
For example, barcodes require specialized handheld scanners, but QR codes are scannable with any smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device.
In addition, barcodes might be applied to several iterations of the same product, which can cross over into a competitor’s labelling system.
Barcodes usually depend on universal coding, while QR codes are uniquely created for each individual item.
This is true even if several “copies” or versions of that item exist—for instance, a fabric shop carrying 17 packages of exactly the same type of needle.
Assigning an individual code helps to track it more accurately, prove ownership, and reclaim the object if it is lost through theft, misplacement, or natural disaster.
Custom labels also facilitate maintenance on fixed or movable assets, as each item is assigned its own record with notes from technicians and operators.
Depending on where the asset is located and what it is made of, labels can be made tamper-proof and constructed from any number of materials, including foil, polyester, plastic, and metal.
They might be applied with industrial adhesives, screws, or flexible laminates.
2) Log Locations
One of the most vital aspects of good check-in/check-out software is its functionality with GPS.
Moving assets across locations is a major challenge, particularly since the supply chain obstacles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
When used with cloud-based asset tracking, equipment may be paired with specific locations.
This allows customer service representatives, fleet managers, and IT professionals the ability to find an item at any time.
Location logging becomes much more efficient when it is a natural part of an employee’s day.
It’s easy to forget to sign in and out of a binder kept in a manager’s office. However, using the smartphone, which is in everyone’s pocket, is much more efficient and user-friendly.
With each scan, employees and managers add to the story of the asset’s life cycle. These updates piece in information about time used, precise location, and maintenance needs.
3) Run Frequent Audits
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of check-in/check-out software is the long term perspective it gives stakeholders as they take a holistic view of the asset.
With this software, they get a better idea of an item’s place in the company, its productivity, and what its future might be.
By auditing the data from check-in/check-out software, overviews of each item’s health and usefulness are provided at regular intervals.
This allows managers to see patterns forming across months, years, and financial quarters.
It helps them manage busy seasons such as holiday rushes, downtime, and even unexpected events such as natural emergencies or the COVID-19 pandemic.
4) Schedule Maintenance
Investment in an asset pays the most dividends when the item is properly cared for. While inventory is designed to move quickly through the supply chain, an asset is expected to serve the company long-term.
Regular maintenance for an asset is easier and more reliable with check-in/check-out software.
Scheduling maintenance and tracking with unique QR codes is fast, secure, convenient, and reliable.
In addition, using QR codes rather than a barcode system means that more data is stored.
This allows for not only manuals and manufacturer information, but also notes left by third-party repair teams or in-house maintenance specialists.
Having a full idea of how the item operates—its unique characteristics and action history—allows for an efficient, easy way to track an asset’s life cycle and make plans for its long-term maintenance.
The investment of check-in/check-out software benefits a business in multiple ways. It encourages employee and client accountability while also providing a long-term picture of how the asset fits into the company, today, as well as far into the future.
GoCodes Can Help
We use QR code tags with a unique visual code that you can scan with your smartphone. When scanned, GoCodes tags provide GPS information about equipment location, making asset tracking easy. Sign up for a free trial here.