Auditing Tools: Keep it Simple
Depending on the industry you work in the word “audit” can mean very different things. For accountants an audit is a bookkeeping term. For manufacturing and audit usually closing down over a holiday weekend and counting inventory. In relation to tool tracking what does an audit mean?
Construction has the somewhat unique aspect of needing to track tools and equipment both in a shop as well as out on jobsites. Ideally, most contractors would want tools out on jobsites ALL THE TIME. After all, if tools are on jobsites then they are making money for the company.
The problem with tools and equipment staying deployed in the field is that it makes it very hard to know what you actually own. Afterall, people rarely report when a tool goes missing. This is where a tool audit can be used to check in on tools and confirm that people still have what you think they have.
Tips for an Audit
1. Know what you currently have.
The first step is to compile a current inventory of all tools and equipment. While this seems obvious, it is not easily accomplished. Afterall, tools are being purchased almost daily. Thus, the list is always growing and changing. You have to get a list established that you can begin checking on. While it is time consuming, it is worth it so embrace the pain and do it now.
2. Know where it currently is.
Obviously, tools and equipment move in the field – that’s part of what makes tracking them a challenge. But once you have a list of what you own you can then start assigning it to people. Most importantly, give those people an easy way to transfer responsibility along with the tool. If it was as easy as swiping right would your field people do it?
3. Don’t audit everything at the same time.
Getting a audit done shouldn’t require a half day of effort from people. We would recommend picking a value cutoff and planning to audit everything over that value. For example, audit everything that has a value over $500. Pick a threshold and take a look at what you have over that value.
Next, break that list of items up even further. You still don’t need to audit everything at once! Take the list of items over your threshold and break them into smaller lists. Then audit a handful of items at a time. This is where a system can be helpful. Pick 5 to 10 items for each person and send an audit to their phone. Have them scan in those 5 items to “confirm” that they still have them.
Then next week, send a different 5 items to be audited. This will let you work through all the items over time without putting a bunch of work on the field personnel. Just have them scan in 5 or 10 items each week and you can get through all the valuable stuff on a nice regular schedule.
If you have a really large job then consider getting a couple people to audit tools on that job. Safety managers can often help scan a few things in and do a “safety check” of the tools at the same time. This is a great way to turn a 10 item audit into a 20 item audit without more time from a superintendent.
To learn more about tool tracking technology that helps you easily organize and audit your tool inventory, visit Tool Tracking Tips.