Data Integration has garnered lots of attention in the IT press for several years. People write about techniques, protocols and standards all the time. But aren’t the real reasons that we need integration often overlooked? What business problem are we solving by integrating? How much data do we need integrated? How often do we need the integration to run? The answers to these questions are the benefits to business that data integration delivers.
I’ll use the AccountAbility Solutions product to illustrate how smart data integration can benefit business. Our product is called Fixed Asset Tracker and, as you would guess, it tracks information about fixed assets. Now, fixed asset accounting rules are complex and vary by country. Our product handles basic depreciation that is used for internal book values. Addressing the complex, nation specific tax rules requires software focused on those rules and there are many existing Fixed Asset Accounting software products available.
How can tracking fixed asset accounting help business? Coordinating insurance policies with accurate data on current asset values can save money when shopping for insurance, as well as ensure that the business receives adequate coverage. Additionally, Fixed Asset Tracker can provide companies with information beyond accounting that can be used to manage the business, such as asset lifecycle events, warranty expiry, insurance contracts, service contracts and more. Responsibility for assets and whether the asset is on loan can also be followed. Tracking software and other assets that are outside of the traditional accounting realm can provide a company with valuable data to help manage the business more efficiently.
Another benefit from using data integration is when a company is transitioning a product from manufacturer’s warranty to service contracts. Having the tracking software send a warning well in advance of warranty expiry dates notifies a company to shop the service contracts and bulk up the value of the contract which better positions the company to negotiate attractive rates. Many of the assets tracked by Fixed Asset Tracker are not capitalized assets and are therefore not entered into the Fixed Asset Accounting software. A perfect example is the cell phone; most cellular providers will supply phones at little or no cost to secure a provisioning contract. Even though these cell phones carry no capital value, they still need to be tracked. These expensed assets represent real value to the company and if they are not tracked, are subject to loss.
Another key area of concern for these types of assets is tracking the responsible party at all times. Often with technology assets they are moved between employees or even outside parties on a regular basis. Tracking these asset movements allows the company to keep an accurate record of who is in possession of the asset as well as who is responsible for the asset. A simple example is the lifecycle of a notebook computer. Computers often get re-deployed from one person to another; the asset itself goes through various predicable transitions as outlined by the chart below.
A practical business solution would be existing Fixed Asset Accounting software integrated with our Fixed Asset Tracker. Users of Fixed Asset Tracker are in our software daily updating asset assignments, buying new service contracts, and renewing insurance policies. Most users of Fixed Asset Accounting software generate the appropriate documents once per year. An integrated solution whereby capitalized assets are recorded in both solutions automatically through integration is an effective and elegant solution to this seemingly complex problem.
Through our partnership with Pervasive, you’re no longer tied to the accounting centric fixed asset modules of ERP, but can leverage Fixed Asset Tracker for warranty, insurance, and service contracts with the same level of integration as bundled modules.