How effective is your spreadsheet strategy for fixed asset management?
It may appear to get the job done, but the world has shifted to digitalising all business workstreams for improved efficiency and cost savings.
Managing fixed assets is no different.
Fixed asset depreciation, the process of tracking the lifecycles of fixed assets and reporting their value for insurance and tax purposes, is one of the most important financial processes in any business or organisation.
Fact is, a good fixed assets tracking system is multi-dimensional and more than a spreadsheet can accommodate.
And, the bigger the organisation, the bigger the system requirements.
Here’s what we cover in this article:
6 reasons why it’s time to say goodbye to spreadsheets
Here are six common signals it’s time to switch from using spreadsheets to manage your inventory control:
1. Missing assets
An incomplete reporting of all assets can lead to tax penalties and insurance issues.
2. Lack of privacy and data
Using spreadsheets to manage your fixed assets is a huge security risk.
What if someone hacked into your system. Would your data be protected?
Using a software is the safer route for protecting your assets.
3. Trouble with scalability
Tracking a growing capital asset inventory on spreadsheets can lead to data errors and communication breakdowns that negatively impact your business.
Your need real-time tracking data in order to make better decisions.
4. You consistently discover errors in your data
Have you discovered errors in your formulas when calculating depreciation?
Entering formulas into spreadsheets often comes with a margin of error since the data is being manually entered into the document.
Not catching those errors can cost your company money.
5. You feel like you have multiple job titles
Does the manual entry process have you stressed out and feeling like you’re doing multiple people’s jobs?
Being able to digitally enter inventory with a barcode scanner would save you a long headache and a lot of time.
6. Rushing to prepare for tax time
Have you ever heard of the expression ‘save time, save money’?
A dedicated system can help you save time by automating your process instead of manually entering data into a spreadsheet.
There will be no need to rush at the end of the year to prepare for your audit because the data will be up to speed and compliant.
How fixed asset software beats using spreadsheets
Here are a series of barrier-breaking benefits of implementing fixed asset software that you won’t get from a spreadsheet.
Automated tax compliance updates
Tax laws are growing more complex each year.
For many organisations with sophisticated schemes, it can be difficult – even overwhelming – to ensure assets are recorded and depreciated correctly.
Doing so manually using spreadsheets puts accuracy and security at risk, which can be costly for any size organisation.
Today’s software solution includes updates of the most recent legislative changes, so they are always accounted for in every calculation.
Trying to keep up with all of the new formulas within a spreadsheet will leave your organisation vulnerable to inaccurate auditing, incorrect depreciation calculations and hefty penalty fines.
Automating this process helps you ensure you’re on top of all changes at all times.
A step further, some software providers include details about each tax law change as part of the update so you can become familiar with them.
Tracking and depreciating for fixed asset management
Just as legislation can be intricate to follow, important data and details about assets can be difficult to manage using a spreadsheet.
Tracking disposals, transfers, labour, locations, materials, and capital investments, and generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) are examples of key information you’ll want to be able to easily access and filter on one platform for a pulse on self-constructed assets.
You can customise the specific data points you’d like to track with an automated solution, saving you time searching and facilitating confident analysis.
Savvy solutions allow you to create custom depreciation methods so you can track hundreds of different types of assets comprehensively and in real time in most cases.
Managing physical inventory processes
Again, 15% to 30% of fixed assets are assets that were disposed of but inadequately tracked.
Juggling data across multiple spreadsheets can make it difficult to spot these kinds of discrepancies.
Software solutions for fixed assets offer tools to reconcile disposals and transfers to ensure your inventory is reflected accurately and no over/underpayment of insurance.
Planning and tracking projects for fixed asset management
As time progresses and it’s time to replace assets (or depreciate new ones), you’ll want to start planning for budget and other resources to do so – especially if you have multiple locations.
This essentially allows you to track assets through the entire lifecycle:
- The asset is planned from the budget for purchase to placement into service.
- Depreciation is automated as the asset moves from the planning phase to in service throughout its useful life. You can manage the financial aspects at any point in the financial year.
- You can manage the physical location of assets through the lifecycle should you relocate or add a new location.
- Robust, often heavily customisable reporting capabilities to generate insights not available via spreadsheets (but imagine how many spreadsheets it would take…).
Workflow integration for efficient fixed asset management
Spreadsheet formulas can break when passed from one employee to another, or improper cell reference can lead to inaccurate values.
With fixed assets, it’s easy for these inaccuracies to lead to bigger problems.
Integration with your organisation’s purchasing or accounting software adds another layer of control and simplicity that you won’t get from using spreadsheets.
Purchasing data is automatically loaded from one business stream to the other, reducing human error and ensuring accuracy at each touch point.
You can even attach an invoice to one or 10 newly purchased computers, for example.
An integrated accounting and fixed asset reporting system eliminates the need to duplicate entries or export data between systems.
This can be particularly useful in the case of a natural disaster, burglary, or vandalisation.
Having this information readily available and easily trackable can streamline the insurance claim process.
Fixed assets may appear complicated at first glance.
After all, they can be subject to a multitude of rules, regulations, and depreciation methods and can be physically located in a wide range of geographical locations making it difficult to keep an eye on.
And that’s before you factor in cumbersome spreadsheets and information silos.
New product intelligence affords those responsible a better way to manage them, though, which can ensure cost savings for the company and enhanced productivity for everyone involved.
With a streamlined process for tracking and depreciating fixed assets, they can simply be part and parcel of a well-run organisation, enabling its growth rather than hindering its progress.
Spreadsheets, while useful in many ways, can only take your company so far when it comes to managing fixed assets.
After a certain point, it’s worth investing in fixed asset tracking software, which can intelligently streamline the above processes and much more.
Doing so can give your company more insight into its fixed assets, minimising the TCO while simplifying operational and financial workflows.
Recommended Next Read
Making Tax Digital for Income Tax: How accountants can prepare landlord clients
Subscribe to the Sage Advice newsletter
Join more than 500,000 UK readers and get the best business admin strategies and tactics, as well as actionable advice to help your company thrive, in your inbox every month.