I have begun my next project here at work, and it looks to be quite the undertaking. When I first joined the company, I began to develop an Excel spreadsheet of all IT Assets; included in this document are each device’s location, computer name/hardware description, username, manufacturer, model, CPU, RAM, total/available memory, serial number, acquisition/replacement date, replacement cost, IP subnet, IP address/default gateway, MAC address, DNS same, BIOS information, as well as each item’s quantity.
Collecting the necessary information took many weeks of diving through dusty boxes in various storage closets, but the result was a complete hardware, software, and vendor inventory list. I would love to include the document to this post, but due to the massive amount of sensitive data, that wouldn’t be wise.
Since the existing inventory sheet I built was before we moved to a larger location, it is safe to say that many of the devices are either upgraded or replaced; thus, it is time to breathe some fresh air into the project.
Not only am I going to collect each IT asset’s information and create another spreadsheet, but I will also begin to look at new options for storing this data in a readily-available format. There are many products out there that offer flexible asset tracking and management, with a wide range of excellent features. Currently, I am looking at a few different companies; however, much of their software seems to be designed for a larger company. Ideally, I would love if the new software could be integrated into our CSM system, Zendesk; if this occurred, we could tag IT tickets to specific pieces of hardware and form an entirely-connected platform for both IT and internal hardware management.
Today, I shared my progress on the first phase of the inventory project, creating a new spreadsheet of all IT assets in our warehouse. Below, is a top-down view of one of the bays. I have included each station’s line number from the Excel spreadsheet so you can quickly navigate to the correct area. Pretty basic, I know. All great things have humble beginnings.
While I start my journey of researching the seemingly endless number of IT asset solutions, I will develop the framework for the system: terminology, what data we wish to collect, and what we want that data to do for us. One of the first steps is to determine what I will use to categorize each item.
Separating assets into categories minimizes the thinking involved, paperwork, and the time to solve each asset request. While assets can be broken down into several categories, I will merely discuss the two main types: consumable and permanent.
Consumables are items such as inexpensive keyboards, headphones, mice, batteries, and USB cables; many of these items do not need to be itemized and tagged, providing the employee with a simple process of, for example, acquiring a new keyboard after a coffee incident. If you are in a smaller company with a more modest budget or suspect an employee is abusing consumable asset replacements, it might help to document your consumable inventory and requests. Consumable asset quantities will change often, and quickly; due to this, these items should be stored so that you can easily see if a stock is getting low, without counting them. Minimal thinking leads to minimal paperwork!
Permanent assets make up the bulk of the IT inventory and budget; thus, they can be further separated into multiple categories. Some example categories are travel, normal, and high-power. ‘Travel’ items are intended for employees who are mobile and do not require much operating power, such as salesmen, whereas a developer would require more advanced ‘high-power’ items. For those who do not fit in either the ‘travel’ or ‘high-power’ categories, they would receive ‘normal’ equipment. With the help of HR regarding new hires, you can have their equipment ready in advance, prepare for future expansion, and turn budget nightmares into something more reasonable.
I will also have to develop how items will be checked-in or out. I think that scanning barcodes would be the best bet, especially as we already have the hardware and software to do this. Many paid IT asset management products have features where you can perform network scans to automatically identify and chronicle anything connected to the internet, thus making my life somewhat easier. Hopefully, I can find a product which allows for a bulk CSV file upload or something, so that all of my work thus far isn’t wasted. Wish me luck, I am sure I will need it.