Who wants to spend money on a product that they never use? The answer is no one, but that’s exactly what happens when business managers don’t adequately manage their hardware. That’s because when inventory management systems fail, devices can end up neglected, unused, in disrepair, or suffering frequent malfunctions. The good news is that there are dozens of varieties of software on the market right now that are highly efficient with this crucial task. It’s even possible to use service and web help desks as part of the tracking system.
For example, check out this comparison of Jira and Web Help Desk, but before making the leap into purchasing and installing a major piece of software, be certain that your own IT house is in order. Both Jira and WHD offer ITSM software and functional ticket management, but WHD has built-in alerts that are fully customizable while Jira’s alerts only come as add-ons. Likewise, Jira has a portal for self-service but its knowledge base is an add-on. WHD’s self-serve portal and knowledge base are built-in. Finally, WHD’s CMDB capability comes with the software, but Jira’s is only available as an add-on.
It means that you should, at the very least, streamline your in-house processes and data. That way, when you do decide on a worthy candidate, it won’t be forced to work with sub-standard information or systems. The goal of inventory management is to make an organization’s entire operation more efficient. There are dozens of techniques for making sure your company’s IT devices are managed in the right way. Here are seven of the most effective ones.
List Your Assets
The first aspect is managing hardware inventory to know exactly what you have. That means making a list of all your devices, including at least all the PCs the company owns as well as all computers, stand-alone hardware, and other devices. This seems simplistic, but in the real world, it isn’t. Far too many company owners and higher-ups couldn’t tell you what exactly they own. From an accounting point of view, this is a massive tragedy because assets, and their values, are at the heart of every accurate balance sheet and annual report.
From a management standpoint, it’s inexcusable because every competent corporate leader should know what weapons are in the company arsenal. Where to begin? Take whatever list you have, no matter how old it is, and go through piece by piece. After each item, note whether it is still owned by the company, what condition it is in, and where it is located. Next, add items that you have but are not currently on the list. This can be more of a challenge because you’re working purely from memory, not from what you see in front of you. Even so, go through this routine as a first step. If you are thorough and accurate, the rest of the steps will be that much easier.
Tag Every Item
Unfortunately, as you probably learned in the previous step, assets have a tendency of wandering. The possible culprits include things like laptop computers, mobile devices, mini-printers, larger computers, monitors, and more. How to track these nomadic objects? The most efficient way is to use QR codes on everything, even those that haven’t moved around. Keep in mind that anything not nailed down has the potential to wander, so just to be safe, QR tag all items that are literally not attached to the floor, wall, or ceiling. Scan all the tags and record the location info and whatever other data you want to store about the assets. That way, the next time you see the item and scan it, you’ll know whether it moved, who was using it, and when it was last spotted.
Assigning means connecting the name of a person to most of the things on your list. Know who has what, when they received it, and what condition it was in when they received it. For instance, if you give a refurbished laptop to a new employee, note that it’s not new. In companies that have plenty of hardware, this task used to be done without QR codes and simply entered into a record book when new hires came into the organization. The point of this step is to know who has what, and who’s responsible for its upkeep. Then, when it needs to be fixed, replaced, tested, or enhanced, you’ll know who to speak with.
Add Pertinent Info
What do you want to include on those data tags? The answer is, whatever you desire. For efficiency and ease of tracking, consider that each asset is different and will call for different data tags. For example, a simple way to begin is to include common accounting information like purchase date, dates tested, manuals, warranty information, and more.
To minimize downtime of an IT asset, be sure to record maintenance details. It’s common for things to need repairs when they break down. Additionally, hardware has to undergo routine maintenance on a regular schedule. Recording this data is essential for accounting and other purposes. And remember that under the heading of maintenance are tasks like refurbishing, inspecting, upgrading, and essentially doing anything to the item except replacing it.
Use Excellent Software
There’s really no excuse to use anything but the best software to keep tabs on your IT inventory. The previous steps include a lot of work, but software can help you become as thorough as possible. You’ll be prompted to complete each task, will be able to look at history reports for any or all hardware you own, track maintenance, follow every movement, and build a detailed, data-rich list of all your company’s relevant possessions. In a way, this kind of chore is what software was created for. Take time to choose the most suitable product for your needs.
Let History Educate You
Those who don’t learn from history are apt to repeat it. When you let your IT hardware history act as a guide, you’ll be a more informed, more competent manager. How? Because you’ll have a full understanding of how your working assets have performed over time, how they have held up, whether they were worth the purchase price, what they do on a daily basis, and whether they cause recurrent problems for users and others. Asset data isn’t just for accountants. Managers can use it to their advantage as well.