How can you maintain accurate hardware data? It can be challenging, but luckily Geoff Ross, Global Delivery Services Manager at Cireson, is an expert on the topic. He recently shared a concrete game plan with best practices to empower hardware asset management and help IT teams avoid common pitfalls. Here is his advice, shared during the Global Skill Development Council’s recent HAM Webinar Series 2022.
The General Value of IT Hardware Asset Management
IT assets comprise pretty much everything involved in IT infrastructure, whether it be hardware, software, communications equipment or network devices. Without a structured method of managing these assets, IT teams could struggle with:
- Navigating change.
- Wasteful spending.
- Lack of clarity of what needs to be purchased.
- Service requests.
The team could lack focus when tracking assets and suffer from an inability to plan effectively. Service desks, too, may struggle to resolve tickets.
Investing time in IT asset management (ITAM) has a positive spillover effect. It supports business’ ability to respond to change, maximize how it uses assets, reduce wasteful spending and create greater efficiency. Though hardware asset management (HAM) is a subset of IT asset management, it positively affects these areas as well.
Master Data Maintenance for Effective Hardware Asset Management
Even with multiple moving parts to manage in HAM, Geoff says it’s best to focus on what works: following a step-by-step process for each lifecycle stage and acknowledging the biggest stumbling block—maintaining accurate data.
Hardware data maintenance is difficult because it involves a lot of potential change. You may be tracking:
- Device location.
- Assigned owner or user.
- The user’s cost center and/or department.
- Asset status.
An asset is valuable in the hands of a user but when an asset is on a shelf, it’s considered a cost to the organization. So how can you improve its ability to stay in active use? Accurate maintenance. ITIL continual improvement gives asset managers a strong roadmap to follow in this effort, supporting quality efforts throughout hardware lifecycle stages, which include:
- Asset input into the organization.
- Asset return (when problems arise).
- Retirement, whether taken out of service or disposed.
Here’s the trick: asset managers need to establish a process to move assets from one stage to the next. For example, when an asset is configured and ready to be deployed, the location (where it has been deployed to) and perhaps the cost center may be affected.
When the asset has been deployed and is now ready to be returned: the cost center and user information should be removed, the new location (where the asset is being restored) should be updated.
Disposal may involve updating security and compliance details.
These are just a few examples of things that would need to be documented.
Establish a Process for Each Asset Lifecycle Stage
How do you create a process to manage each asset lifecycle stage? Consider three basic questions:
- What task needs to be managed physically and via the asset management tool? Create a separate process for each.
- Who will perform each task? Clearly assign and document an owner for each task.
- What is the trigger? Be clear about how the task owner will be notified of an asset change and how the information will flow.
Hardware Asset Management Best Practices
Plan the Process First, Then Collect and Import Data into an Asset Management Tool
Confusion and errors will occur without a strong map in place, and it will be more challenging to make major corrections once the data is in the system. Creating a plan ahead of time and getting consensus from stakeholders will validate the flow, reveal disconnects and make sure all are on the same page. It also allows you to later automate pieces of the process or the entire process, if needed.
Start With a Simple Set of Data and a Simple Lifecycle
Having seen areas where asset managers struggle, Geoff advises a simple, measured start. Trying to do everything at once is a recipe for failure. He recommends working with one device at a time in, starting with the most critical device and a firm process to govern the flow.
The experience of managing more assets will be smoother with a layered approach.
Integrate HAM and ITSM Tools
Many IT Service Management (ITSM) tools allow for integration with asset management, which links everything together and allows all to be managed from one place. So triggers like people joining the company, moving into different positions or leaving the company alert asset management to update records. End users, too, can see and verify their devices to support accurate record maintenance. This kind of integration also helps with provisioning and other service requests.
Geoff advises looking for opportunities to simplify efforts via integration whenever possible and reaching out to Cireson for questions, issues and help with asset management and other key IT Service Management efforts. Check out his full presentation for more insights.
You can catch Geoff, the extended Cireson team and fellow Microsoft System Center Service Manager (SCSM) users in the Cireson Community, where discussion and ideas are freely exchanged. We’d love to see you there!