Project Management Thoughts

Where is the ___________?

It never fails. After all of the shopping, you’ve finally got all of the gifts organized and boxed and you’re ready to wrap. Or so you think. You then spend the next 45 minutes or so looking for the scotch tape. You’re positive that you bought tons of tape when it was on special sometime last winter (since this happened last Christmas too). You look everywhere you can think of, including some really random spots, but with no success.

Now, swearing somewhere on the levels of a longshoreman, you head off to Walgreens at midnight to buy tape. Again.

Sound familiar?

These situations drive me crazy. You’re sure you have something. You’re sure you know where it is. And you’re definitely sure you don’t want to have to buy it – again. But you need it now – so another purchase is on the books.

In my house, during the holidays anyway, this is generally a tape situation. Other times of the year, we might be talking keys, eyeglasses, dog food, lawn bags….you get the idea.

Since I don’t live alone, what I purchased may have been used or moved without my knowledge. In this case, I could wake the others to ask them – but a trip to Walgreens is honestly easier to deal with than my family when they’re sleep-deprived.

Unfortunately, these situations show up all over the place – including at work. How many times have you been up against some type of deadline and the _________ that you need isn’t where you expected it to be – or it’s broken, or it’s in use – whatever? What do you do?

When in deadline panic, things like budgets can get blown – quickly. Whatever you need for that effort is purchased, the deadline is met and you’ll deal with the fallout later.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take many of those instances to really throw finances off. After whatever hand-slapping occurs, teams generally take one of two approaches:

Pad It – teams may add extra dollars to their budgets to ensure they have contingency resources in case of emergency (without any future punishment)

Clean It Up – teams get their arms around what they have and where they have it

The multiplier factor of the Pad It approach can send an organization’s operational budget up exponentially. This is never a good plan for the overall bottom line – and it tends to make your finance people very twitchy.

Short of that, we have the Clean It Up option. This takes time and effort – also a cost – but with longer-term benefits. It entails taking the time to locate all assets, profile them, and then create a process for handling them.

For example, if you have laptops that you have in a pool for special use, you first need to locate all of them (by inventory, by network access, etc.). Once located, you want to make sure that you have accurate information on each (serial numbers, software licenses/versions, condition, etc.). And finally, you want to make sure that you have a process in place on how to check out/check-in equipment so you know where they are when they are needed.

Putting in an automated asset management solution can minimize the time and effort that is needed to not only clean things up – but also to maintain that “cleaned up” status. Because let’s be honest, if it’s easy to do, it’s more likely to get done.

Cleaning up the process is obviously the ideal way to go, in my unbiased opinion. It can help you clean up your budgets, really understand your asset needs and use (maybe you do need more laptops – or maybe you’ve accumulated a panic-induced stockpile), and you can also automate getting the data you collect up to those twitchy finance people for their reporting deadlines.

Ok, so I’m not unbiased.  But I’m definitely the guy to call if you need scotch tape (because, at this point – I will NEVER run out) – or if you want to talk asset management solutions.