Many companies find it hard to keep track of their tool and equipment inventory. No big deal, right? Wrong, actually. This problem is especially worrisome when it comes to fast growing companies, such as startups that grow from 5 to 50 employees in a year.
When we talk about tool and equipment inventory, by the way, we’re talking about all the equipment your company provides its employees so that they can perform their jobs.
Here at Pipefy it includes mainly notebook computers, mouses, monitors, keyboards, headsets, etc.
The scenarios and equipment vary widely from company to company. Even though I’ll use examples we’ve experienced here at Pipefy, most of them apply to (almost) all other scenarios.
Why control your tool and equipment inventory?
People are your company’s most precious asset. That’s absolutely right. Your physical assets (your tools and equipment) are also precious, though. Unless you’re an extremely lucky person that got all your equipment for free, it’s very likely that you’ve spent a fairly large amount of money purchasing equipment.
We’re a tech company which means that most of our employees spent 99% of their working hours in front of a computer. Therefore, most of our tool and equipment inventory consists in computers and computer-related equipment.
Each employee receives at least 3 or 4 pieces of equipment. As the team grew, it became exponentially difficult to keep track of everything without a dedicated process. Fortunately for us, we had all the tools we needed.
How you can use Pipefy to keep track of your company’s tool and equipment inventory?
The only other thing we needed besides Pipefy were barcode numbered labels (you’ll know why in a few paragraphs). You may use them or not, if you feel like it. We felt like it made it easier to quickly identify equipment without having to read long serial numbers.
The first thing you should do is create two databases:
- Employee database: Simple employee database with as many details as you deem necessary. If you’ve already created an employee database to use in another process you can use it;
- Tool and equipment database: List all the equipment you have. Add relevant information such as type (computer, cable, mouse), brand, model, description, etc. We also added the number of the label and each equipment’s serial number.
After we did that we’ve created an ‘inventory’ pipe with the following phases:
- Requests: equipment requests waiting to be fulfilled (they move to ‘in use’ after formal acknowledgement from the employee);
- In use: equipment currently assigned to an employee;
- Devolutions: equipment that was put back in stock for any reason (no longer necessary, the employee is no longer working at the company, etc.);
- Under repair: damaged equipment, undergoing repairs;
- Obsolete: old, broken or lost equipment, no longer functional.
The pipe’s start form must have the following fields:
- Employee data. Connection field connected to the employee database (make sure you choose “search database records” and “single entry when creating the field);
- Item/equipment. Connection field connected to the tool and equipment database (make sure you choose “search database records” and “single entry when creating the field);
- Date the equipment was taken from inventory. Date field.
How does it work?
If you understand how Pipefy’s databases and pipes works, you probably already see where I’m going. I’m always in favor of playing safe, though, so I’ll take my time explaining how the equipment inventory control process works.
From the moment it starts, when the equipment is requested until it’s ordered from the supplier, delivered and assigned to the employee.
First step, an employee requested a new equipment creating a new card on your purchase process pipe. You went ahead and ordered the equipment.
The day it’s delivered, right after you check if everything was delivered according to what you ordered you tag the new equipment and add new records on your tool and equipment database.
The next step is creating a card on your inventory pipe and formally assigning the equipment to the employee.
You can do it by asking them to reply to an email or manually by signing a term of commitment. After they do, you move the card to ‘in use’ and the equipment is officially assigned.
You can easily keep track of what’s assigned to each employee by opening their employee database record.
Each related card will be an equipment currently being used by an employee.
You can also work the other way around, accessing the equipment’s record to find out which employee is currently using it.
Pipefy can be used for many different things, from automating the approval flow on your purchase process to keeping track of your equipment inventory. What about you, what do you use Pipefy for? Let us know!