This article is part of a blog series!

Part Title
1 JIRA for asset management: Overview
2 JIRA for asset management: Inventory setup
3 JIRA for asset management: Workflow setup
4 JIRA for asset management: Reporting setup
5 JIRA for asset management: Physical implementation

 
jira_asset_tracking-2I know I said this is a four-part series, but after finishing the blog series I felt like something was missing. A big part of asset tracking is the integration with the actual physical hardware. I’ve only really discussed the software solution that models the hardware reality. The IT group here has gone through a number of learnings on the hardware side to make the process smoother and more efficient. Let’s take a look at some of the tools that help them run more quickly.

Scan, don’t type

jira_asset_tracking-6Each asset at Atlassian has a label with a QR code and the asset number on it. The QR code allows the IT group to easily scan the asset and load its details inside of JIRA. How does this work? The URL to that asset’s JIRA issue is encoded into the QR code. The team uses the Motorola DS4208 QR code scanner to quickly scan the item and load its details into JIRA. The QR code scanner appears to the PC or Mac as a keyboard so it’s compatible with a wide range of computers.

Scanning the QR codes is easy.  The scanner is as simple as pointing and capturing.

jira_asset_tracking-5 jira_asset_tracking-4 jira_asset_tracking-3

If you haven’t used a QR code reader, download one for iPhone or Android and scan one of the QR codes in this article to learn how QR codes work!

Printing in bulk

The team here uses Bartender to design and print the labels. One of the key benefits of the software is that it allows us to print batches of labels parameterizing the URL in each. We can use the prefix and suffix fields to define our target URL (http://jira.example.com/browse/TAG-XXX). The QR code then is unique for each label.

bartender_screenshot

As we discussed in part 3, all new labels have the status “enter item details”. The team here batch prints labels and stores them for future use. jira_asset_tracking-1

Once a label is physically attached to the device, the IT team fills out the JIRA issue and moves the item to “in service” or “in stock.”

Note: The creation date for the issue in JIRA using our method will be the date of print of the label. Thus, we have an additional custom field called the date of purchase that reflects the acquisition date for the asset.

Building great labels

Atlassians carry their laptops everywhere. They go from desks, to meeting rooms, to backpacks, and places beyond. Laptops go through heating and cooling cycles that will stress even the best of labels. We needed a solution that could withstand the rigors of regular use and not break down.

At first we settled on just using a label but found the label wore out after a couple of months. We now place an additional clear label over the asset tag for protection. Which labels to do we use?

Costing it out

In the end we wanted a system that was cost-effective as well as flexible. We knew tracking of assets would save us money as Gartner eloquently put it. We wanted to leverage solutions we had as well as extend them in a prudent way. We deployed our solution across three offices in San Francisco, Sydney, and Amsterdam. Here’s how everything totaled out for us:

Item Quantity Cost Total
Bartender Software 2 263 526
QR code scanner

3

350

1,050

Citizen label printer

2

650

1,300

20,000 labels

1

800

800

Thermal Transfer ribbon

2

600

1,200

TOTAL

$4,876

 

Amsterdam is a smaller office, so the team in Sydney printed off a bunch of labels and sends them to Amsterdam as needed. When all is said and done, we’re happy with our solution. We’ve got plenty of headroom to grow and have found the entire solution works well for us, end to end.

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About Dan Radigan

Software has been a passion since the days of the floppy disk (you know, the actual 5.25 inch floppy ones). Agile has had a huge impact on me both professionally and personally as I've learned the best experiences are agile, both in code and in life. You'll often find me at the intersection of technology, photography, and motorcycling. Find me on twitter @danradigan.

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