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4 Things You Need to Consider When Creating an Effective Device and Inventory Management System

Understanding Device and Inventory Management

Business process improvement guru, H. James Harrington, famously said, “Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” This is especially true when it comes to your device and inventory management strategy. 


Why Do Device and Inventory Management Matter?

There are many reasons that companies should maintain an accurate inventory of their devices. 

Let’s consider a few real-life scenarios. 

Suppose your company is considering the implementation of a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. The software vendor has provided you with the minimum requirements needed to run the software. How can you plan for this project’s costs and timelines if you do not know if your equipment can run the software? You cannot budget for any upgrades required and cannot know how to allocate the resources necessary to perform any upgrades. With an accurate inventory management program in place, you could run a report and have this information with little effort. 

Another common scenario is asset depreciation. Suppose you are a CFO or Controller and are trying to prepare an annual report for the board. How can you accurately report your current assets if you do not know what you have and what has been lost, stolen, or out of service? With inventory management, this exercise becomes more accurate and easier. 


Device and Inventory Management


What if a salesperson’s rental car is broken into and their laptop is stolen? The police will want to know the make, model, and serial number of the stolen device to file a report. Insurance will not cover a loss claim without it. The salesperson only needs to contact the service desk. The representative can provide the serial number for the report, the salesperson will receive the police report, and a claim can be approved for reimbursement. 

Finally, imagine you are a CIO or IT Director. You receive notice that a patch needs to be applied to keep a new critical vulnerability from affecting your company network. Inventory management allows you to know if your equipment is affected and where these affected devices are located. Inventory management saves you time and keeps your network safe and protected from this vulnerability.   

These are just a few examples in which a device and inventory management system can help an organization work better and be more informed. 


Process Matters – Where Do I start?

To get started on this journey, the creation of an inventory and device management policy is critical. 

These policies typically cover the following:  

1. Procurement Management

2.  Asset Inventory

3. Asset Accountability

4. Asset Protection

Let’s dive deeper into each of these policies.


1. Procurement Management

A procurement management policy covers the rules of engagement for selecting and managing hardware and software vendors used by your company. They also protect the confidentiality of purchases, pricing models, authorized vendors, and authorized purchasers.   

For companies that produce specialized products and services such as patented or other trade secrets, a procurement management policy would include a method for confidential procurement through an authorized third-party purchasing organization. Some companies also require documentation of a supplier diversity program as a means for supporting female and minority-owned businesses. Many state contracts or even your company’s culture may find this documentation desirable.   


2. Asset Inventory

The core of an asset inventory system includes the methods and tools used to manage the existing assets accurately. 

Asset inventory management is essential for the efficient control of computer and software assets. IT systems change continuously during their lifecycle. Hardware components may be added or removed; software installed or uninstalled. Even in small IT networks, there will always be growth and change. 

An accurate and current asset inventory’s goal is to have a complete, up-to-date and accurate view of all network components, including PCs, servers, printers, hubs, routers, switches, and software. Ideally, the inventory should capture the device class and what is installed on the device. For any given timeframe, this can provide the actual state of all infrastructure components, which will provide a clear idea of what is owned, operating, and where it is located across the entire enterprise. 


Woman looking at computer screen

3. Asset Accountability

Asset accountability covers the classification of software and systems. It also covers the asset owners and other parties (internal or external) responsible for these systems and the data they contain. 

Asset control is also part of this accountability. This helps to ensure that responsibility for the controls protects major information assets such as a customer contact information database that has been assigned. This policy component assumes the major information assets have been identified. Identification of an organization’s major information assets can also occur when risk assessments are performed and when contingency plans are prepared. 


4. Asset Protection

Asset protection speaks to the type of computing equipment that may be used to access company systems. Typically, this is defined as company-owned or personal devices. From a security standpoint, most companies opt to require the use of company-owned or company-controlled devices so that security policies can also be easily monitored and enforced. 

Asset protection also covers the type of labeling and identification used to ensure the protection of the device. Most companies will opt for a destruction-proof label or tag that contains the company’s name and who to contact if the device is found, along with an internal serialization mechanism that is tied to the asset inventory system. 


Next Steps – Policy Creation and Maintenance for Device & Inventory Management

After you have decided on your basic device and inventory management strategy, the real work begins.

If you do not yet have a policy in place, your first task is to start outlining your processes to cover the items described above. Most companies will defer to their trusted technology advisor to help facilitate the creation of the documents and run initial discovery and documentation of current inventory items. These tasks are often run in parallel because the discovery of previously unknown device types will help steer the policy’s discussion and subsequent content.


People looking at paperwork


If your company already has a system and policies in place, you should review the policies and their continued applicability annually at the very minimum. Identify gaps in your process and tools and make appropriate changes to ensure that the processes are still relevant. Run an audit to find errors or omissions and think about how you can refine your process to eliminate these gaps.

The ideal scenario is to have a coordinated management system in place that provides real-time data on the devices used in your networks. Most Managed Service Providers (MSP) use a Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) system along with a Network Management system to perform this function for their clients. Networks are scanned in real-time or at regular intervals to ensure the devices and software assets’ health and find any new items accessing the managed network. 

Using more automated methods helps enforce policy compliance and is an underpinning of a mature, secured environment. 


Putting it All Together for Effective Device and Inventory Management

As you can see, a robust and mature device and inventory management program enhances the effectiveness of the entire enterprise. From finance to IT, everyone plays a part and benefits from this substantial investment in your company.   

Does creating an device & inventory management system feel overwhelming? We at Edge Networks know that there are a lot of moving parts and potential pitfalls. Remove the burden of managing your IT with our flat-fee IT managed services programContact us to schedule a free, 30-minute consultation today.


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