Managing and maintaining IT assets is essential for a successful business. However, Capterra reports that businesses are reacting instead of preventing maintenance issues 80% of the time. Proactive IT asset management is made possible with a current and accurate IT asset inventory.
What is an IT asset inventory?
An IT asset inventory is a complete list of all IT assets within an organization’s IT environment. A well-managed inventory provides a central location to track items and ensure that they’re being used effectively to support business processes.
Types of IT assets
There are two main types of IT assets: hardware assets and software assets.
Hardware refers to all tangible items in the IT environment. They are the necessary physical components within an IT environment. Different types of hardware include:
- Laptops and computers
- Mobile devices
- SNMP devices (firewalls, switches, routers, hubs, etc.).
Software refers to all the intangible items in the IT environment. In order for software to work, it needs the physical hardware to perform tasks directed by the software. Software includes:
- Instructions for computer operation
How to do an IT asset inventory
An IT asset inventory can be performed a few different ways. Each method requires a different amount of time and has varying accuracy levels.
Do it by hand
This is the most basic method for creating an inventory of your IT assets. Each time you buy a device, you will need to type the information into a spreadsheet and send it to the person in charge of overseeing your assets. With this method, making an IT asset inventory can be time-consuming and not very productive.
Use an IT asset management tool
IT asset management tools are slightly more advanced. With this kind of tool, you type asset information into a database. The asset’s serial number can return info about the device’s manufacture or other specifications. However, any other information about the device must be input manually.
Deploy an endpoint management solution
An endpoint management tool is the best case solution when it comes to creating and maintaining an IT asset inventory. Anytime a new device is obtained and added to your organization’s IT environment, put an agent on it so you can monitor and manage it. This will give you an automatic inventory and will continually update the inventory for you, enabling you to always have an up-to-date IT asset inventory.
Why IT asset inventory management is important
The importance of IT asset inventories is difficult to understate. Keeping track of devices within the company allows you to effectively manage organizational devices. It also helps you to avoid having an out-of-date inventory.
An IT asset inventory helps you to minimize extra costs associated with the maintenance of an IT environment. Major costs include:
Direct costs refer to any expenses related to the machines or products themselves. Without an IT asset inventory, you may not know when products have reached the end of their lifecycle and need to be replaced. The total replacement of machines is a direct cost that can quickly add up.
Apps and programs require a software license to give end users rights to fair use of the software. If employees have apps on their devices that require a license, but they’re not using it, that’s an unnecessary cost. An IT asset inventory gives you the information you need to identify and remove those apps.
Without an IT asset inventory to monitor and manage your devices, you don’t know applications are on people’s computers. You also don’t know if they’re patched or if they could potentially be malware. These unknown risks pose potential security costs for your organization.
When to conduct and manage an IT asset inventory
The time and frequency largely depends on how you decide to perform your organization's IT asset inventory. If you choose a method which requires manual input of device information, it is wise to update your inventory each time you gain a new device, and to check your assets on a regular basis. This timing can vary from company to company, but ensure you do it often enough to maintain an updated list of assets.
When it comes to endpoint management solutions, conducting an IT asset inventory is fairly straightforward. Simply put a software agent on any new device added to the company, and it will continue to automatically send information about that inventory to the solution. This means that you’ll only have to complete an inventory once for each device, and it will be automatically updated in the future.
IT asset inventory management tools
Managing your IT asset inventory is an important task that can require a lot of time and detail. Fortunately, various tools have been designed to support and streamline this task. Software designed for IT asset management is a highly specialized and effective tool that can assist you in the management process.
NinjaOne provides an endpoint management solution that enables you to conduct an IT asset inventory with ease. It enables centralized and remote IT management, and requires minimal manual intervention to support. Sign up for a free trial today.