When it comes to asset management systems, some form of tagging is necessary for the hardware to identify it and help track it. There is a balance to strike among affordability, labor-intensiveness, and ease of deployment. Here are the types of tagging systems you have to choose from, along with the pros and cons of each.
Best Tagging Method: RFID With Barcoding
The most secure, fastest, and robust means of tagging is RFID with barcoding. This system allows you to track hardware assets in real time (or pretty close to real time), but it does come with a higher expense (you have to purchase a barcode scanner RFID reading equipment, and software). This system works best in a limited environment where you have lots of control over the assets. Barcoding with RFID is the most secure type of tagging. It does require an upgrade of your IT asset management software.
Second Best Tagging Method: RFID Only
RFID, an acronym for Radio Frequency Identification, is about as expensive as RFID with barcoding, because you do have to purchase the frequency reading equipment and software. It gives you the advantage of being able to track assets from remote locations, which is ideal if your environment is spread over multiple locations. Also, the RFID can be read through boxes, so it’s not necessary to unpack equipment if it needs to be read. You can even scan multiple RFID-tagged hardware simultaneously. RFID is almost as secure as barcoding with RFID tagging.
Third Best Tagging Method: Barcoding Only
Barcodes without RFID tags can only be read one at a time, and there is a cost involved in purchasing barcode scanners and software. However, it offers a reasonable level of security and has the ability to report the inventory directly to a database. It requires updating ITAM processes, and can be labor intensive to deploy. This system works best in environments that are more widely distributed and less controlled.
Fourth Best Tagging Method: Serial Numbering
Serial numbering involves tagging assets with a serial number. These numbers have to be added to a database manually, which leaves ample room for errors to be made, either by the vendor or the IT staff. The process is also manually intensive and the serial numbers can rub off over time, especially if the equipment is handled frequently. Also, assets that have been deployed throughout the organization can be hard to track down and tag during the implementation process of your new asset management system. Though less expensive than RFID tagging, barcoding, or a combination of these, it doesn’t help track the location of your assets after deployment.
Fifth Best Tagging Method: Manual Asset Tags
Finally, you can manually tag each asset with your own labels and naming systems. This is the most affordable tagging option by a considerable margin, but the tags produced are typically not durable. The process is labor-intensive and time-consuming, and there is a significant chance that the system will produce errors. Additionally, if the process is repeated among various branch locations, there is room for confusion about how the system is used, leading to a potential for errors and misunderstanding among locations.