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Easy equipment checkout system with spreadsheets

Free equipment checkout system

If you are responsible for managing a wide range of equipment, such as IT equipment, or frequently moving gear like video equipment, and you are just starting out and need a checkout system, then this blog is a must-read.

I'll guide you through creating an equipment checkout workflow using spreadsheets. I'll show you what columns to include and how to manage it when checking out gear for colleagues, freelancers, or students. Later, I'll go a bit deeper into preventing gear loss and keeping an overview of your inventory at all times.

TL;DR? Watch the video below!

Essential columns for essential accountability

Let's get started. You have the option to either enhance your existing equipment inventory list with the checkout flow or create a new spreadsheet for it. If you want to know what basic information your equipment inventory list should include, watch the video below. However, to incorporate a checkout functionality, we'll need a few additional columns.

There are three essential columns for when you’re checking out gear, along with a few additional ones we recommend. These include the name of the person checking out the gear, the checkout date, and the return deadline. For extra accountability, consider adding a column for the serial number. This way, you can track exactly which laptop or camera was checked out and by whom. You might also want to add a column for ‘the last person responsible’.

Using a sign-out sheet adds another layer of accountability
. It should include the gear list, dates, extra terms and conditions, and a signature box. And so, the person checking out the gear must sign this sheet. If you want to know more about the best practices, we’ve made a separate video on this topic.

How to use a spreadsheet-based checkout system

Now, it’s time to work with it. Imagine you need to prepare a camera gear set for an upcoming shoot. You can search for the item by name or serial number, or filter by category to find the right gear.

While prepping, you might find it helpful to keep a printed checklist on you to cross off items, making sure nothing is overlooked.

Flaws in the spreadsheet workflow

But… there is a “but” to this workflow. Actually, there are many “buts”.

One significant issue is the lack of reliable traceability or tracking. Even if you include a "last person responsible" column, you cannot see the complete history of the gear's journey.

If you have an open gear cage accessible to all your employees, you would hope that everyone checks out only what they reserved. If they don't, the next users may not be able to find the gear they've booked.

Also, what would happen if people didn't return all the gear but simply marked in the check-in column that they did?

Our experience often shows that people tend to overlook the check-in step when returning items. This can quickly lead to outdated spreadsheets and a lack of oversight regarding what equipment is currently available in your gear cage.

Equipment management without a hassle with Cheqroom

There are quite some issues linked to the spreadsheet-based checkout system. Perhaps some of the issues are impossible for you to ignore. No worries, we have the perfect solution for you: equipment management software like Cheqroom. This all-in-one tool provides an overview of your gear, tracks reservations, shows the equipment's history, and offers limited access to certain users, such as freelancers or juniors. Moreover, it allows you to assign long-term usage for items like laptops and much more!

This is how the checkout flow would look like in an equipment management system that is designed specifically for equipment checkouts.

You can see your upcoming reservations from your dashboard. Click on it.

Cheqroom dashboard

You’ll see a list of all the equipment you’ve reserved.

Spreadsheets reservations 1
Spreadsheets reservations 2

If you have a mobile phone, open the Cheqroom app, and scan the equipment. This is to ensure you're checking out everything you’ve booked - you don't want to go to a shoot with half of your gear - and that you're checking out exactly what you've booked. It’s that easy, you don't have to go back to your spreadsheet.

Scanning gear in Cheqroom

Then, everything is automatically updated in the calendar view. If you click on checkouts, you’ll always know who had what last, for how long, what project, and the status of the gear (is it broken or due for maintenance?).

Cheqroom reserved gear calendar view

Now, if you got curious, then watch this video to see what else Cheqroom can do for you:

Or try Cheqroom out for free for 7 days. Start a trial today!

Oswaldo 1
Written by Oswaldo Canho Nov 29, 2023

Oswaldo Canho is the BDR Team Lead and occasional YouTube star at Cheqroom. Most of the time, you’ll find him sharing interesting topics about Video Production and Broadcasting on LinkedIn or connecting with you to see if you are having difficulties managing your gear. He is passionate about helping producers ensure that their deliverables are never delayed due to equipment issues. His favorite piece of equipment is the Aputure B7c.