Why an asset management system?
As we became a non-profit (previously an LLC) at the tail end of 2012 we needed to start tracking assets that belong to the organization. It made sense to also track what objects in the space belong to anyone else, so a more comprehensive approach was taken. The main feature of the asset system is that it can facilitate printing of asset tags which can be affixed to any object or tool. This also helps with the problem as members come and go where a new member wants to use tool x and has no idea who to ask for help. Well, the owner listed on the tag is a good place to start. Also it's nice to indicate that someone should have training if necessary on the tool before using it. Lastly, in the event of a robbery having models and serials of all the most expensive things in the space is very good to have on hand.
What we don't want: another outdated database which is a chore to maintain. It won't be perfect, but it should be as easy as possible to use and keep up.
What we use
We took this asset management tool and formed it into something usable by our hackerspace:
It's a standard PHP/MySQL application. While being focused on IT equipment, it was easy to work within the application to support a full range of objects a typical hackerspace/small non-profit needs to track. The first modifcation we made was to support asset tag generation with QR codes. We also added the ability to search on an asset id number (on the tag) to make quick lookups for people without smart phones possible. Lastly cosmetic language tweaking was performed to make the system less IT centric.
Change log in our version
- On the Asset Detail view added "Generate Asset Tag" and "Generate Small Asset Tag" under "Manage Record"
- On the search results page added "Generate Asset Tags From Results" and "Generate Small Asset Tags From Results" buttons
- On the pages Asset Add, Detail, View, and Edit removed "Cube" field from view - still in database, can be reused for another purpose if needed
- On the "View All Assets" page (formerly "View All Hardware"), added links to new pages "Generate Asset Tags From All Results" and "Generate Small Asset Tags From All Results". This eases first-time rollout by allowing asset tags to be printed in full sheets and individually cut out.
- On Asset Add, Detail, and Update pages changed "Field Address" to "Project URL". This is a link to further information (say, a wiki page) about the item.
- On Asset Add, Detail, and Update pages changed "Date Purchased" to "Date Inventoried".
- Removed all references to "Software" which was tracked separately from hardware assets
- Changed all references of "Hardware" to "Asset" to broaden the scope of the language used in the app
- Changed all references of hardware "Platform" to "Category"
- Changes all references of "Division" to "Training" - this made more sense for us since we have assets which require users to obtain training before they can use them. Other assets do not require this. This is also of special use on our actual asset tags printed and applied to tools.
- On the "View All Assets" page, there is code commented out to include serial numbers in the listing if someone wishes to enable this (looks more cluttered)
- On the search page changed available search fields:
- added search on asset id numbers
- added search on training required/not required
- added search on purchase date
- removed Domain User search
- On the search results page reordered columns to more closely match "View All Assets" page
Issues which would be nice to have resolved but not required for now
- Fix authentication so logging out actually works (needs to expire the cookie or something)
- Fix authentication so it will pass on the initially requested URL after authentication
Additional proposed changes
- Adding a value field to each asset
- Adding a photo upload capability for each asset
After initial roll-out of asset tags it may be desired to print small batches of new asset tags on full sheets rather than individually printing them. By using the same inventory date on all newly added assets, this can be achieved. Simply search on the date, then use the "Generate Asset Tags From Results" button on the search results page.