Equipment management software – why is it better than spreadsheets?
When used right, spreadsheets can be pretty awesome. Not so for equipment management, which requires much more insightful tools to keep equipment tracked and well maintained.
This blog pulls no punches in listing all the reasons why using spreadsheets for your equipment or inventory management is a flawed tactic. Fortunately, we also list which qualities you should be looking for in equipment management software.
TL;DR: Watch this video!
Having an overview of your equipment
Spreadsheets are free and accessible to everyone. So why not just dump all your equipment in a sheet and go from there?
Because soon, you’ll have zero overview of your inventory. Unless you’re running a really small equipment room, your equipment inventory sheet will probably be dozens of columns wide and hundreds of rows long. Your precious asset inventory just holds so much relevant data, it becomes almost impossible to keep organized in a sheet. Especially if your inventory grows. Data errors are inescapable.
Now see how this same inventory would look like in the user interface of specialised equipment management software like CHEQROOM. All the data is in one place, sorted in a way that’s actually usable, and at the same time customizable to your tastes: list view, grid view, sorted by category and complete with pictures… much more pleasant to use, much easier to find what you need.
Tracking your equipment
Equipment that gets used also gets moved a lot. Think of cameras and lighting for a video shoot, cables and mics for a live show, but also IT equipment borrowed by users and taken to their homes when working remotely. How are you going to track that equipment using spreadsheets? Poorly, probably.
Let’s say you need a projector for a conference at the last minute. You’re currently on the road, and you want to book the projector now. Have fun scrolling through an immense spreadsheet to find the right projector, then selecting the right field and jotting down your booking for next Thursday.
With actual equipment management software? It’s a breeze.
Keeping people accountable
When more than one person edits an inventory spreadsheet, a mess usually follows. Should an error occur or should something get lost, clicking around the sheet’s version history to find out what happened is the best you can hope for. Nobody has time for that.
What a world of difference with the way equipment software works: you can assign equipment to a specific user, create a sign-out agreement, and have users sign it electronically.
The way equipment management software defines user roles is also very helpful. Rather than being limited to just giving a lot of people access, you can assign specific rights to specific users. Great if you want many colleagues to have access in a manageable way.
- Students can only browse and book from a list of available equipment
- Teachers can book more advanced equipment from a more extensive list
- Equipment room managers can see who booked which gear and add new equipment to the inventory
Viewers, administrators, front desk agents, super admins: the list of options is long and suits every organization’s tastes.
Notifications and collaboration
Spreadsheets lack automation options. As a result, they require the manual work of a very motivated, detail-oriented person to notify the right people in case a warranty expires, an asset is up for maintenance, or someone is late in returning a piece of equipment.
This is where equipment management software excels (no pun intended): set up automated emails to the right people when a warranty needs to be extended, or remind people using SMS when their equipment is due back.
Everyone likes their gear to stay in top-notch condition. When it’s not, software like CHEQROOM offers an impressive list of options to flag your gear.
You can create your own relevant flags to mark equipment with a low battery, in need of cleaning or just up for repairs. Once again, roles are important here: you decide which groups of users can flag items, and even whether the flag makes the item unavailable or not. Users have to write down a message when flagging an item, and have to add a picture for maintenance to be planned.
Of course, whoever is responsible for maintenance receives an automated notification when an item gets flagged.
Meanwhile, your spreadsheet lets you add a column to indicate broken equipment. That’s about it.
Insights and analysis
Finally, it’s good to take a step back once in a while and learn from your inventory and what happens to it over time. Whereas Excel and other spreadsheets are for number crunchers only, better equipment management software allows for quick data analysis, with very little manual work. You can pull up a bunch of reports in a few clicks, such as:
- Who is holding which items in their custody?
- What is the current state of equipment?
- How many items need repairs?
- How many items are missing?
- Which type of equipment is used the most?
- Who brings back gear on time and who is always late?
That last one can be really useful to video production companies, schools, or any organizations that have a lot of equipment that is rented out frequently and for long periods of time.
Better solutions exist
If you’d like to reap the benefits of an actual best-in-class equipment management solution, have a closer look at CHEQROOM. You can even try it out for 15 days for free or ask for a demo.