Managing IT assets is an underutilised method for SMBs to save money and increase efficiencies. Many businesses evolve from a one- or two-person operation into a larger organisation. As the number of devices, connections and subscriptions increase, the complexity involved in tracking and maintenance increases. Disparate, outdated spreadsheets of purchase information and registration data are suddenly unable to support the new needs of the company. When data isn’t maintained, inefficiencies can develop undetected.
In these cases, the implementation of an IT asset management program is a wise undertaking. Establishing a data aggregator like this can be a significant task. Like many things in business, the initial investment in time and resources may be significant, but will pay off greatly over time. When IT asset evaluation programs are in place, the payoff should come in the form of decreased costs, increased efficiency and even higher employee productivity. Once the initial set-up has been completed, maintaining the data should take very little time.
There are two parts to making a IT asset management process work smoothly: compliance and data management. Compliance procedures maintain a regular flow of updated information into the system, and ensure the data is kept securely and is used effectively. The management of the data and how it can boost business development becomes a rolling process.
Why compliance matters
Compliance is the key that holds the entire IT asset management system together. If a business does not have policies and procedures in place to ensure the data is aggregated correctly, the information will become outdated and essentially useless. As the creation of an asset management system is likely to draw on information from multiple departments, unified policy (particularly standardised reporting schedules) will keep information accurate, up-to-date and valuable.
What does compliance look like?
This will vary from business to business, depending on the scale of operations and technical requirements. In short, it involves the scheduling of information inputs into the asset management system. It also relates to maintaining the accuracy of the data, the security processes involved in protecting it, and how the data is used to benefit the company. Some of this reporting may be automated if the systems are large or complex. Smaller businesses are likely implement scheduled checks, notifications and updates. These may be carried out by a single person or as an additional reporting requirement for managers. Other inputs could be generated from within the system on a timeframe nominated by the administrator.
This register will hold expansive amounts of sensitive business information, particularly if it is linked in with financial data. It is imperative that the asset management system is stored securely in the cloud and access is restricted or tiered. Carrying out regular cyber security audits will help.
What data should be stored in an IT asset management system?
Don’t be intimidated by this list. Much of this information should easy to source. If a concerted effort is made to collect the data in the beginning, it will be much easier to maintain and update it as required. As a starting point, collate the following:
- Year of purchase
- Lease expiry
- Annual electrical tagging
- Outright purchase or subscription details
- Number of authorised users
Network data, including,
- Configuration data,
- Infrastructure, both physical and digital
- Server providers and capacity
Communications information, including,
- Mobile devices
- Telephone lines
- Alarm systems and CCTV
Metadata about the above, including
- Device locations
- End-user to device registry
- Renewal dates
- Expiry dates
- Safe and secure disposal processes
Depending on requirements, a system could also hold password management data, IP address management, power usage and distribution information.
In addition to this hard data, there should be robust reporting procedures in place to maintain the relevance of the documentation. The data has the potential to be integrated with company financial and operational plans, document management and even help desk applications.
Choosing an IT asset management system
An effective system should be formidable in its ability to manage datasets in a way that renders them useful to businesses. There are many different streams of information that can be fed into these programs, as outlined above. When the data is able to be cross-referenced, it should reveal opportunities to increase efficiency and decrease unnecessary spending.
Having a clear understanding of your assets and their value goes a long way to increasing their utilisation. Select your asset management program based on your needs and the capabilities it provides. While sleek consumer-style interfaces are impressive, your business will be better served by a program that can store and deliver your data securely. You will need to consider if the program can offer the following:
Benefits of using an IT asset evaluation system
When technical asset data is stored in a central location, informed decisions are much easier to make. When the true state of a company’s IT assets is presented, it reduces the risk of scattershot upgrades, incremental inefficiencies due to outdated equipment and many other operational challenges.
Data can be analysed by IT teams to identify required upgrades and installations, and they can be scheduled to avoid interference with staff productivity, and at the most efficient time regarding the status of the infrastructure and its requirements.
Leased equipment can be returned or upgraded on schedule, avoiding fees and associated efficiency costs (such as time lost between replacement equipment and set-up, and the inefficiencies of older infrastructure).
Lapses in policy or subscriptions and failures in regulatory or reporting compliance can all be avoided if the asset management system is maintained and used regularly. Identifying underutilised resources can aid in redistribution or reallocation rather than duplicate or unnecessary purchases.
Employee time spent on internal help desk calls can be reduced if the data register is up to date. Help desk calls are typically spent gathering data. If this data is at hand, addressing the issue can take precedence.
There’s no doubt that establishing an asset evaluation system is a large task. The efficiency dividend is well worth the effort in the long term.
About EC-MSP, your IT support services partner
EC-MSP are one of the most trusted IT support providers in London. If you would like more help advice and support establishing your IT asset management system, or updating your current set-up, contact us today to see how we can help.