If your business started out small, you may have managed your IT hardware and software inventory with spreadsheets at first. But spreadsheets quickly show their limitations: they’re error-prone, tedious to update, and don’t create an audit trail. If you’re lucky, you’ll transition to IT asset management software before your company is audited by a software company.
You need IT asset management software to keep track of hardware as it’s assigned, used, and retired, to track software licenses and subscriptions to avoid violations, and to know how hardware is configured and what software is installed where.
Going from spreadsheets to IT asset management software can be a big undertaking, but it’s absolutely worth it. The amount you pay for good IT asset management software is dwarfed by the size of fines you can incur if you fail one software audit. Plus, great IT asset management software is designed to be easy to use and to provide the audit trails and reporting capabilities that keep the information you need at your fingertips at all times. Here’s how to make the transition.
Identify the Best Software for Your Needs
Look for software that incorporates features to make asset management easier, like barcode and QR code reading capabilities. It should have a friendly, intuitive interface and provide flexible reporting options. Many organizations today choose software as a service (SaaS) products, because it’s always up-to-date and doesn’t require the server maintenance necessary with on-site software.
Assemble a Transition Point of Contact or Team
In a small company, you may only need one person in charge of making the transition from spreadsheets to asset management software. In larger organizations, you’ll want a team. How you assign responsibilities is up to you. Some organizations assign team members departments for which they handle all asset management data entry, while other organizations may assign one person to desktops, another to laptops, and another to software data transition.
“As coach of this team, I’m taking it upon myself to inspect each and every piece of hardware located in our Honolulu branch.”
Use Old Spreadsheets as a Starting Point
Team members should start with the old spreadsheets that were used to track IT assets, with the understanding that these may have many errors. They’ll need to clean up the data as best they can before entering it into the new asset management software. This requires a bigger time investment up front, but will save time later on.
The Heavy Lifting: Getting the Data Into the New System
Correct information from spreadsheets should be entered into the new IT asset management system, and if you plan on using QR codes or barcodes, you’ll need to affix them to hardware items and physical software packages and associate the asset data with each code.
Cross-reference hardware with the software installed on it and make sure this information maps properly. In other words, make sure each software package is associated with the hardware on which it’s installed, and make sure each computer’s listed software corresponds to identified, properly-licensed software.
Test the Software with an Internal Audit
Once you believe you have everything entered into the IT asset management software, stage an internal audit. Pretend you’re a software representative who wants to make sure all licenses for a software package are up to date. Use the IT asset management program to print a report showing compliance (or lack thereof). When your internal audit shows inaccuracies, track them down and correct them. Rinse and repeat until an internal audit comes up clean.
Your IT asset management system must be accurate, verified, and current so that you always know where every piece of hardware is located and how it’s configured, and so you can determine quickly whether software licenses are in compliance.