The concept of IT asset management (ITAM) is full of common sense. After all, if you can easily determine what all your hardware and software assets are, you can manage them better, from the time they arrive until they’re retired.
Theory and practice have an unfortunate way of colliding, however. Here are 5 incidents when IT asset management was used for purposes other than those typically envisioned by IT managers.
1. Daylight Savings Time? Not Unless I Say So.
A Reddit user named “citking” relates the tale of a CIO’s second in command: “George.” Though lacking in IT skills, George had a devotion to server security that some might rate as pathological. First, he insisted that all Windows Updates be run through a central server and that no updates were installed without his OK. After an outbreak of malware resulting from Cisco firewall updates being caught in the George Approval Cycle, a new policy dictated that all Windows updates be quarantined in a “test lab” for two weeks before approval. This included all Windows updates, including the one that changed the clocks to Daylight Savings Time. Rather than speed approval of the time update, George instead chose to log onto the network and roll back the clock on every domain controller by one hour. Hey, rules are rules.
2. IT Asset Management: Hoarder Edition
Some IT asset management systems are built on boxes full of old computer pieces that the boss has an unusually strong attachment to. Disgruntled_tech-guy writes: “We build our own computers for our employees. It cuts costs and gives us product control.” The downside is having a boss who wants to keep every part of every system ever used unless they’re physically broken. The natural end result after several years is boxes full of 256MB of ram, obsolete sound cards, and Windows 2000 installation disks. Oh, yeah, this particular ITAM system also depends on another key component: an IT worker to wait for the boss to leave so he can gradually get rid of old e-junk that will never be useful.
3. It’s All in How You Define “Administrator”
Some companies find themselves with a senior executive who may have the technical skills of an anvil, but who nonetheless insists on having full administrative rights to all the machines on the network. And even without administrative rights, these executives can cause problems. Take, for example, a Department of Defense senior manager in an Operation Enduring Freedom military installation who one day decided to reroute some cabling. He decided to remove it from a special router handling highly-sensitive data that was awaiting encryption and connect it to the same internet everyone in the world uses. In these cases, the only solution is giving these senior execs the IT equivalent of an Etch-a-Sketch by naming an account “Administrator,” giving him very limited access, and blaming the limited capabilities as on the latest Microsoft service pack.
4. The IT Asset Management Program with the Smoothest Dance Moves
A participant in an Infoworld thread wrote in about the role of sticky notes in IT asset management. It is fairly common knowledge that when the toner cartridge on a laser printer starts running out, you can usually eke out a few more pages by removing the cartridge and gently shaking it a few times to redistribute the remaining toner. The key phrase there is “removing the cartridge.” This IT manager’s mistake was sticking a note onto a printer with the helpful information about “shaking” but without saying exactly what needed shaking. He got in trouble when a printer user injured his back after picking up the entire HP LaserJet 400 and shaking it.
5. ITAM and Recreation: Let’s Play Musical PCs
In what could be the most inefficient management of assets in the known universe, EndUserIdiots recalls a large department that ordered new PCs every week or two to keep up with a hiring push. “The manager of the department wanted to make sure that he and his top people always had the best computers in the department. Therefore, whenever they would hire a new person (which usually happened once or twice a week), they would order a computer for the new employee.” So what, right? Well, the newest PC always went to the department manager, with his “old” computer stepping down to the person with the second most seniority, and so on. In other words, every week or so, everyone in the department got a “new” computer. And, since everyone stored everything on each PC’s hard drive, with every switch, every PC had to be backed up so the data could be restored onto each employee’s “new” computer.
Even if your company’s ITAM program isn’t all that great, it’s probably better than these examples. And if it’s time for an upgrade, maybe you should consider cloud service desk software like Samanage. With powerful ITAM capabilities baked right in, you can be up and running with a new and better ITAM system in short order.