Hardware asset management can be time consuming and labor intensive. It isn’t easy even when users do what they’re supposed to do, but that doesn’t always happen. Here are some issues that the IT help desk can look for and address so that these issues don’t cause problems, questions and confusion in the future.
1. Hardware Sharing
Sometimes the IT department tags an item and assigns it in the asset management system to one user, but managers swap equipment or one person leaves and the manager simply hands the equipment off to another worker without notifying IT. When this happens, the trail leading to the equipment simply ends at the point at which the previous worker left, with no clear picture of what happened to it thereafter. Establish a clear and well-advertised policy about how to handle hardware assignments when a worker leaves, either temporarily or permanently.
2. Hardware Hoarding
IT folks that have been in the business any length of time can tell you numerous stories of hardware hoarding. Departments request new equipment, yet still hold on to the old stuff. They don’t return or report equipment that is no longer needed after a worker leaves. Sometimes, IT finds entire closets full of hardware that a department is holding back for themselves, even though they are not getting any use out of it. It’s a good idea to have some eyes from IT stroll through various departments from time to time, looking for instances of hoarding. This can really rack up an IT bill while offering no ROI for the company, and it usually comes out of IT’s already strapped budget.
3. Removing Tags
Have your workers discovered equipment with missing or obviously tampered-with tags? It’s not always clear why workers want to remove those tags, but it can cause lots of problems, and not just problems with the hardware side of asset management. If one of your software vendors insists on an audit, you’ll need that tag in place to prove that you have a valid license to run the software on that piece of equipment. Both hardware and software management depend on those tags. As with sharing and hoarding, establish a clear policy for not tampering with or removing tags, and be sure this information is communicated regularly among managements and departments.
4. Hardware Theft
This one isn’t pleasant to deal with, but unfortunately, it happens. Sometimes it is a deliberate act, but more often it’s a case of a well-intentioned worker taking home equipment (most usually a computer or laptop) to get necessary work done, and then “forgetting” to bring it back. Again, sound policies can help, but IT will also need to be trained on how to handle workers who fail to or refuse to bring hardware back to the office. Make the policy clear about what point the problem needs to be taken to the police.
5. Improper Hardware Retirement
Another common issue is when computers, hard drives, servers, or other equipment that contains data becomes defunct and gets tossed out without fanfare by workers or managers. This presents a serious security problem, not to mention the fact that much of this equipment is recyclable. It sometimes helps to add a sticker along side the asset management tag that warns users not to throw away, give away, or take equipment to a recycler without contacting IT first. IT can then perform the necessary procedures to thoroughly wipe data before it leaves the company.
What are the issues that cause the most hassle for your IT department? Are your asset management policies working? Getting the right asset management solution for your situation is often the best way of handling these and other equipment issues.