Hup, two, three, four … Are your IT assets marching to the right step? Good asset management helps you control the lifecycles of your IT assets so that you can plan for things like maintenance, repairs, and replacements, and never get blindsided by a huge expense for new equipment or software that you didn’t see coming. Here are a few tips for making your IT assets stay strong for battle.

Choose an Asset Management System That Can Track Both Hardware and Software Assets, Including VMware Tools

IT Asset VMware Tools

Which products required the most troubleshooting attention and repair work? Your IT asset management system can track this and help you steer clear of buying products that haven’t worked well for you in the past.

Asset management is often limited to hardware assets. While this is important, software asset management is what can keep you out of hot water when a software vendor comes knocking with papers to audit your software licenses. A good asset management system will allow you to track both hardware (sometimes called HAM, short for Hardware Asset Management) and software (sometimes called SAM, short for Software Asset Management). Everything from your word processing programs to your VMware tools should be included in your SAM.

Don’t Forget Consumable Assets

Failure to include consumable IT assets in your asset management system means that your budget is going to be way off. Consumable IT assets include things that are necessary to keep the technology running, but tend to have short lifespans and/or are "used up". Consumable IT assets include things like printer toner and ink cartridges, printer paper, keyboards and mice, etc. With the right asset management system, you can track how much of these consumables you use over time and accurately budget for future needs.

Choose a Tracking System

Hardware assets like computers, monitors, printers, and other equipment with substantial price tags need to be tracked. There are several tracking systems to consider, each with pros and cons. Tagging and tracking systems range from the affordable paper or foil asset tags to more expensive yet durable barcode and RFID tags. Paper and foil tags are cheap, but are easily torn or removed. Also, the manual process for entering the codes for hardware assets tends to lead to human errors. RFID tags and barcodes are more expensive, but are harder to be damaged or intentionally removed, and the process is more error-proof. However, some type of tagging system is essential in order to properly identify and track hardware around your facilities.

Decide Whether to Give Users a Means for Logging Asset Activity

Hardware asset tracking is supposed to help deter and prevent things like laptops that follow users home, never to return, and printers that get stuck in a broom closet somewhere and forgotten forever. You can opt for a hardware asset tracking system that allows or requires users to check out the assets they are using and notate where the item is, for how long, and when it’s returned. However, this is a bit like leaving the fox in charge of the hen house — if workers want to hide something from you, it’s all too easy. Just make sure your workplace has a policy for using, moving, and returning IT assets and that the policy is enforced regularly and consistently.

Don’t Forget Cloud-Based Assets

Cloud based Assets

Data and software in the cloud should also be included in your overall IT asset management system.

When you list and log your IT assets, don’t forget about cloud-based assets, such as software applications and databases. Using your asset management system to track cloud services helps you stay on top of services that aren’t used anymore so that those can be discontinued for cost savings. Tracking cloud-based assets also helps you plan for future cloud needs, evaluate vendors based on prior performance, and keep the cost of cloud assets and interests under control.

Asset management isn’t fun or glamorous, but it is an excellent way to keep IT costs down and stay on top of issues like regular hardware maintenance and how many software licenses you need of a certain product. With the right IT asset management, your IT team can do double time without breaking a sweat when it comes to managing hardware lifecycles and giving shelfware a dishonorable discharge.

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