IT hardware is among the most important assets a business possesses. Whether its data center equipment like servers, networking tools or user devices, ensuring these are utilized effectively is vital in keeping any enterprise safe and productive.
Yet many firms still don't have a clear, comprehensive solution for managing these items. This can mean aging hardware isn't replaced quickly enough, firms overspend on tools that aren't best-suited to their operations, or security vulnerabilities go unaddressed.
Therefore, putting in place a comprehensive IT asset management (ITAM) plan that covers every piece of equipment you own is vital. Here are a few essential things to remember to ensure these activities go smoothly:
1. Ensure full visibility
Step one should always be a complete audit of your system so you're fully aware of every piece of hardware within the organization. This may turn up some surprising results, especially if you have assets across multiple sites or hardware that isn't usually considered part of your network, such as bring-your-own-device items.
This ensures that when you apply policies to your IT estate, you aren't overlooking any potential security holes, you can identify which devices are and aren’t being fully utilized and avoid spending money duplicating assets you already have.
2. Prioritize your assets
Once you've familiarized yourself with what your assets are, you can set about prioritizing them. Start by highlighting your mission-critical devices and make sure they're given primary status for monitoring, maintenance and upgrades.
Some assets will require continuous oversight and adjustments to get the best performance out of them, while others can be left alone until the time comes to replace them. Knowing which is which and allocating your resources accordingly will save you a lot of time and effort.
3. Use dedicated management software
If you're still using spreadsheets to keep track of your assets, it's unlikely you're getting the full picture. Common problems that can arise from outdated management tools include maintenance schedules slipping and new hardware being procured even when there are available resources elsewhere in the business.
Dedicated management software can bring every device under one system and automate key processes and maintenance. It can also look out for any red flags and immediately alert an engineer who can step in before a serious problem arises.
4. Embrace analytics
Going hand-in-hand with management software should be robust analytics and reporting tools that can give you more insight into the performance of your hardware. These solutions can identify any areas where attention may be required, providing you're keeping an eye on the right metrics and KPIs.
This insight can come in a number of forms. For instance, it can tell you which assets are costing the most to maintain or which suffer from the most downtime. As well as letting you adjust your internal resources to respond to this, these findings should factor into your decision-making when it comes to future purchases.
5. Have a full lifecycle plan
Your asset management strategy should include policies and practices to govern every aspect of your equipment's lifecycle, from determining your initial needs and key questions to ask vendors, to when you should be looking to replace ageing hardware.
At the heart of this should be a clear upgrade schedule. This is vital in ensuring productivity remains high and workers don't become frustrated by having to use outdated equipment. Knowing in advance when to upgrade helps you plan effectively and ensure the transition process will be as smooth as possible.
6. Keep environmental aspects in mind
Sustainability is a major priority for many businesses today, and your IT hardware should be no exception. A clear plan for how you dispose of old equipment in an appropriate manner should be a key part of this, such as knowing which devices can be donated or recycled and which should be destroyed, and putting in place plans to do this safely.
You should also pay attention to the day-to-day running of your hardware assets. Keeping a close eye on which equipment is placing the greatest demands on power and cooling, for instance, will let you take the right steps to minimize these issues, which also helps you save a significant amount of money.
7. Ensure physical security
Finally, it's also important that you don't overlook any physical security threats that could compromise your network. As well as identifying which assets may be at the greater risk of backdoors and other security vulnerabilities, ensuring malicious parties can't physically access key devices is critical. This means strong access controls on data centers and server rooms and policies for what to do in the event a hardware device is lost or stolen.