Right now, this very second, can you put your hands on a list of all your company’s IT assets?
Let’s ignore the trivial ones like keyboards, mice, spare toner cartridges (I tend to regard all of these as disposable items), and just focus on the major ones – servers, desktop computers, laptops, screens and mobile phones.
If you haven’t got a list of them all, how do you know when they’re due to be replaced? When do they run out of warranty, or have they run out already, and you just don’t know? If they’re still in warranty, and something goes wrong, do you know who to contact to get them repaired?
While there’s a plethora of asset tracking systems out there that you can use, a simple asset tracking system can be trivially implemented in something like Excel. There’s only a few details you need to track – here’s a suggested list:
- Description (something like ’15” MacBookPro’)
- Identifier (something to uniquely identify the item – a serial number is a good idea)
- Purchase date
- Warranty expire date
- Assigned to/Location (a laptop is assigned to a person, a server lives in a location)
- Purchased from (possibly include contact details here, if you purchase from a variety of vendors)
- Specification (free text that goes into more detail to describe the item in question)
Of course, you can also track assets like software – for example, copies of Microsoft Office. When a new version of software comes out, it makes sense to upgrade everyone. With a properly maintained asset management system that includes software, it’s easy to get a count of the number of upgrades you’ll need to buy. This also makes it much simpler to make sure you’re not in breach of licence agreements by running software for which you haven’t purchased the appropriate licences.
If this is kept reasonably up to date, it should be fairly easy for you to answer questions like:
- How many computers are due for replacement in the next year?
- What assets does Kate in Marketing have allocated to her?
- Where did we buy Robert’s external screen from?
- How many copies of Adobe Illustrator do we have in use?
If you’re still small, it should take a very short period of time to gather this information. If you’re a little larger, it can take more time – possibly to the extent that it becomes a better option to use some sort of automated information gathering tool that interrogates all the equipment it can find on your network, and reports the information on demand.
However you gather it, the important thing is that you do so… and that you keep it up to date.