Office inventory management systems: Not exactly the world’s sexiest software to be sure. Yet, without inventory and asset management systems, many enterprises would likely work at a similar pace to the DMV. Currently, SMBs have no shortage of tools to choose from when selecting a software system for tracking office assets and inventory; however, most of these options involve working tirelessly with Excel or using some kind of desktop product, like TurboSystems, Data Village, or FoxFales, to name a few. If a company has more than a few dozen employees, though, Excel and desktop solutions can be a pain in the ass.
Syed Ali, a former Sun Microsystems employee (before the company was acquired by Oracle) and his team of IT and software geeks, said that they had grown tired of having to deal with repeated occurrences of outdated and incorrect office inventory in today’s tracking solutions. Syed said that he and his team have collectively worked with many different companies that, for example, do in fact keep lists of office assets, but specific information related to who has what (like tracking records of check outs) is often completely missing or worse outdated — not to mention the fact that misplaced assets are often assigned the wrong employee who may not even work at the company anymore.
The problems, as one can imagine, are numerous. To help resolve these issues, Syed and his team are today launching EZOfficeInventory, a SaaS-based solution that approaches asset management untraditionally through a delegation model, in which the responsibility of inventory tracking is shared by employees, reducing the workload on the administrators.
The solution enables pooled office assets to be tracked with ease through a checkout and checkin mechanism for employees as well as an activity newsfeed for administrators, allowing them to review and take charge only when needed. Employees can also identify available assets that they need to get their jobs done and can get access to manuals and drivers instantaneously.
Since EZOfficeInventory resides in the cloud, the solution employs QRCodes as asset tags so that, with an asset’s unique URL embedded in the QRCode, employees can quickly reference asset details and identify the rightful owner in the event something gets lost. And employees can do this with a quick scan from an iPhone or Android device installed with a QRCode reader and web access.
The solution also works to minimize the effort involved in audits, as administrators can request pictures of the asset or other custom workflows from employees with a few clicks. EZOffice also lets administrators view reports on usage, track checkouts and checkins, the total cost of ownership, and even service history on their company’s assets.
Companies can also change the security settings in their solution so that it is compatible with existing workflows and add further privacy features when necessary.
Some readers may find the following newsfeed image to be reminiscent of Basecamp (the well known product released by 37Signals, the same company that is home to David Heinemeier Hansson, the guy who created Ruby on Rails). EZOfficeInventory is also implemented in Ruby on Rails, as Syed says that he is “an avid fan” of the web development framework.
EZOfficeInventory offers a free two-month trial of its cloud app, with packages for more than two users beginning at $29 per month.
The asset management system is still in the very early stages (and the startup is bootstrapped at this point) at this point, and there’s work to be done on the website’s design and UI (and on the name as well), but the software itself is attacking an important pain point for many small and medium sized businesses.
While putting the responsibility of asset management into the hands of employees (along with, of course, a system of checks and balances) may well prove to enhance efficiency and trust among those employees, it is risky. But Syed says that this is “part of the fun of merging enterprise with web development” and the very process of using web tech to target enterprise level problems. It’s a shot at the status quo, and the CEO believes it’s a shot worth taking in spite of the risk.
For more on EZOfficeInventory, click here.