Manually entering data into an inventory database is a thing of the past. Not only was it tedious and time-consuming, it was error-prone. Sometimes it’s the little things that can really make your work life better. If you’re not using barcodes or QR codes to track IT assets, there are plenty of reasons why you should be.
With an iPhone or Android already in the palm of your hand, you can save masssive amounts with a mobile device equipped with a barcode reader app (and QR codes can be read with a smartphone camera). While barcodes are great for encoding small amounts of data, QR codes can hold much more information.
Fun Fact: Because QR codes encode much more data than barcodes, you aren’t just limited to IT use cases, you can use them in countless ways:
- Stick a QR code on the door to a storage closet that, when scanned, reaches a web page listing everything stored inside.
- Put a QR code on visitor badges you send people who are going to be visiting your workplace, and they can scan it to get information like where to park and which entrance to use.
- Place a bogus QR code on the receiver of your “favorite” coworker’s desk phone that Rickrolls him when he scans it. The possibilities are limitless…
Here is some more information about barcodes and QR codes and how they can benefit your IT asset management program.
What Exactly Are Barcodes?
We all know what barcodes look like and how they’re used by retailers to help keep track of inventory. They’re still one of the most affordable storage methods for product identification, storing up to 20 numeric characters. A simple database ID can fit onto a barcode, and you can make barcodes with a barcode font rather than having to encode them the way you do with QR codes.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Barcodes
Barcode readers are cheap, and barcodes eliminate human error from many aspects of IT asset management. Plus, they are cheap to design and print. Barcodes can hold inventory, pricing, and other information, making that information retrievable instantly, and they significantly reduce manual data entry.
Barcodes, however, can’t hold that much data. Your IT asset management system may need more data than what can be contained in a barcode. When this is the case, QR codes are better.
What Are QR Codes?
Whereas barcodes are one-dimensional code storage media, QR codes are two-dimensional codes that can store text, binary, image, or URL data. Originally made for tracking vehicles during the automotive manufacturing process, QR codes are now everywhere. They can be read with barcode-scanning apps or phone cameras to display text, go to a URL, or retrieve contact information, for example.
Advantages and Disadvantages of QR Codes
Here are just a few of the advantages of QR codes:
- You can generate QR codes for free, and each QR code can hold more than a page of plain text.
- QR codes are easily scannable from many angles.
- You can save QR codes as EPS, SVG, or PDF files and then print them out on labels.
However, while QR codes can be printed in many sizes, you generally want to make them at least 2 cm on a side or bigger. If you cram your QR code full of information, you’ll need to print it at a larger size to make it usable. This could be a problem for tracking smaller IT assets.
The time and mistakes that can be avoided by using barcodes and QR codes along with an IT asset management software are significant. If you haven’t incorporated barcodes and QR codes into your IT asset management system, what are you waiting for?
About Nathan Riley
Nathan Riley is a Sales Director, ITSM at SolarWinds. He has nine years experience in the industry, and has had a front row seat for the evolution of service management as a platform for the entire organization. He helps organizations ranging from SMB to Fortune 500 bring customized service to employees. Nathan proudly served the United States Armed Forces in the United States Marine Corps.
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