Understanding Hardware Asset Management
Reduce risk and hardware costs by automating the end-to-end lifecycle for hardware assets on one centralized platform.
Most large and medium-sized corporations invest a significant budget on enterprise technology. According to Gartner, global IT spending is set to reach $4.4 trillion by the end of 2022, an increase of 4% as compared to 2021.
Hardware asset management is one of the critical areas of optimization when it comes to enterprise technology…
Because every organization with physical IT assets has a hardware lifecycle, which means organizations need an IT asset management solution to track their hardware to answer the following questions:
- What hardware do you own?
- Where are the assets physically located?
- Do the financial records match your assets?
- What assets are in use and how can you prove it?
Even when organizations track their physical IT assets with spreadsheets in a disciplined approach, the issue is that efficiency is still lost because of a lack of automation and integration with other business systems.
Therefore, the goal of hardware asset management can be distilled into three key principles:
- Reduce costs through efficiencies
- Minimize risk of asset loss and preserve critical business systems with updated hardware
- Improve employee and customer experiences and enhance reliability and trust
Thus, effective hardware asset management should allow you to more easily determine which assets are in each stage of the lifecycle. Automating the end-to-end asset lifecycle delivers significant benefits in three areas:
Financial efficiency: Reduce costs with improved planning, procurement, and contract negotiations, identify under-utilized hardware, improve negotiating position with vendors by relying on trustworthy data for purchases and renewals of hardware, and track business spending.
Risk reduction: Lower risk of asset loss, security vulnerabilities, and compliance with outside regulations, environmental concerns, and company policies. Importantly, hardware asset management preserves critical business systems by tracking aging hardware that can frequently fail and helps avoid large unexpected costs. In addition, accurately track hardware from request to retirement while minimizing the volume of lost and stolen assets.
Improvement in user experience: Allow hardware to be transported, tracked, and repaired quickly, improving employee and customer experiences.
Remember… your business is only as good as your weakest link. And hardware asset management is a critical piece of the puzzle as it allows you to increase the efficiency of your capital expenditure investments and optimize the lifecycle of your hardware.
Overall, hardware asset management allows for better decision making by eliminating manual data tasks and standardizing and reconciling data dispersed throughout your organization’s ecosystem. With better hardware asset management, organizations can work with cleaner, more reliable, and trusted data to track assets and make critical decisions.
Hardware asset management focuses on streamlining an automated asset lifecycle via precise tracking and the seven stages of asset lifecycle management. In this article, we’ll discuss the seven stages and how to optimize your organization’s automated hardware lifecycle with workflows.
To ensure best outcomes, the workflows discussed herein should be out-of-the-box and have a low code or no code foundation in order to implement the workflow to fit your specific business requirements and apply best practices. There are several benefits of workflows:
- Allows digitization to accelerate productivity.
- Eliminate the need for constant data transfers from legacy systems.
- Elevate teams across the business by allowing them to work from the same system.
Let’s begin with a discussion of the seven lifecycle stages…
The Seven Lifecycle Stages of Hardware Asset Management
- Request: Enable employees to request hardware from a self-service catalog in the employee portal.
- Fulfillment: Purchase new assets when needed.
- Inventory management: Track open and closed orders, set rules, and perform inventory audits efficiently.
- Deployment: Automatically assign and deliver assets to new employees.
- Monitoring: Gain visibility into and act on vulnerability exposures quickly.
- Service: Determine costs associated with hardware repairs and allocate resources accordingly.
- Retirement: Identify and rationalize aging hardware supporting critical business services.
Stage 1: Request
Hardware asset lifecycles begin with a request from an employee, typically via your human resources department for new employees.
In the request lifecycle stage, the workflow should be closely integrated with service management. An employee portal with a service catalog works best to facilitate requests for assets because you can establish specific groups of assets and bundles for your employees, which prevents purchases outside the scope of your employee’s needs. In this way, you identify and retain the hardware necessary for your organization while optimizing your capital expenditure spend.
Furthermore, by bundling, employees receive what they need without the hassle of waiting for multiple orders to ship. By limiting the number of hardware options, you also have fewer models to track, your support team has fewer configurations to handle, and your IT team has fewer lifecycles to manage. To optimize the request stage of the lifecycle, you must rely on the data you build over time from employee feedback and ordering patterns to ensure you understand which hardware and bundles are necessary for each department in your business.
Your request workflow must be integrated closely with human resources systems so that when a new employee is onboarded, the employee is automatically provided with specific hardware options, the hardware is automatically ordered, and the expense associated with the hardware is allocated to the correct department. Critically, the new hardware request should be tracked from the vendor to delivery to the employee, who should have the ability to track the hardware’s status and to make further requests for services in connection with the hardware.
Stage 2: Fulfillment
The lifecycle stage of fulfillment consists of authorizations and approvals, which should be automated via workflows. Many of the processes related to this lifecycle stage will provide demand-based analytics for purchasing needs. Fulfillment is also closely tied to procurement systems to automatically create purchase orders, leasing agreements, or service agreements. This will depend on how you acquire or lease the hardware:
- Purchase and depreciate,
- Lease and return, or
- Leverage desktop as a service from a managed service provider
No matter how or where you acquire the equipment, you must optimize how you track your asset-related contracts. Integrating your asset management with procurement, vendor contracts, service management, and accounting systems for departmental chargebacks will be important at this stage. Significantly, automate service catalog and employee portal workflows so that they integrate with accounting and procurement systems and tie to delivery services to track packages while updating statuses simultaneously.
Stage 3: Inventory Management
Inventory management is a critical step in streamlining asset management. Orders should be created automatically from stock rules when the inventory falls below preset thresholds for any item, which removes human error from monitoring inventory levels. Automating the inventory process will also provide data to compare stock expectations and actual inventory on hand. In addition, many organizations have multiple locations holding inventory, which requires the transfer of inventory quickly from one location to another. Smartphone scanning makes it possible for any employee to scan their items when they receive them before putting them to use. This capability becomes even more important as organizations negotiate with vendors and resellers to deliver preconfigured devices directly to employees, whether at home or in the office, saving time, effort, and shipping costs. The ability for anyone to scan a device makes it efficient to perform inventory audits on demand and ensure data accuracy and show compliance. Therefore, as part of your inventory workflow, you should have an app on your phone to scan that integrates with procurement to view purchase orders. However, your asset management system should have security checks to make sure data is not changed by anyone other than authorized asset managers.
On the other hand, when employees leave or are terminated from your organization, it is critical to ensure that your assets are returned to the organization and that the data associated with the assets is secured and returned as well. Make sure an employee termination workflow is in place that integrates with human resources workflows that are triggered by an employee departure, removes access to the hardware by former employees, secures data from the returned asset, tracks the returned assets as it is placed back into inventory or reassigned to another employee, and retires aged hardware past its warranty date.
Stage 4: Deployment
Deployment has become a key stage of the asset lifecycle given that many organizations now have a significant number of remote employees post-pandemic. Therefore, deployment often requires the shipment of hardware from vendors or the organization’s storage locations directly to the employees at their home locations. The deployment lifecycle stage begins when the hardware is configured to meet the needs of the employee or a customer. Typically, deploying an asset requires the IT support team to reimage, secure, and clean the device while ensuring it has the latest software free of vulnerabilities before delivering the asset to the employee. Assets may be deployed by directly shipping from vendors to remote employees, from local inventory, resellers, or managed service providers. The deployment stage can also mean redeploying or changing the ownership of a device that may be reallocated to a different employee. Careful tracking of devices is critical so that devices from former employees and the data contained therein can be recovered without exposing your organization to any vulnerabilities from third parties outside your organization.
Stage 5: Monitoring
Once your assets are deployed, you must ensure the hardware and data associated with it remains functional and secure.
This is where hardware normalization comes into play.
Maintaining an updated list of standardized item names is critical as well as tracking the aging and usability of your hardware. Your hardware asset management should also integrate with service management data on asset-related incidents and user feedback to determine asset durability, reliability, and performance. By keeping a close eye on your assets in use, you can minimize risk associated with vulnerabilities associated with any assets.
That’s why it’s important to integrate an IT portfolio visibility and vulnerability workflow. To protect sensitive company or customer data, you need to know exactly where each asset is. In addition, tracking your assets provides you with key data that can be used to assess vulnerabilities, which should be relayed to the IT team to address and secure.
Stage 6: Service
Hardware troubleshooting and reconfiguration are frequent issues that crop up after deployment, requiring asset and service management workflows to be integrated with hardware data for troubleshooting, diagnosing, and resolving technology incidents. Automated updates between service management and hardware asset management are essential to maintaining accurate data and gathering information that helps guide hardware buying and maintenance decisions. Good asset management also requires having support contracts and warranty information tied to assets so that an organization can identify which vendors to contact and the details of the support available in case service of assets is required.
Stage 7: Retirement
The last stage in the asset lifecycle, retirement, must ensure that aging assets are properly tracked, refreshed, and disposed of appropriately. Because of regulations, environmental concerns, and the security risks, proper disposal is necessary. In particular, leased third-party managed items that come up for renewal must be returned or renewed on time. Make sure to integrate a certified disposal vendor and confirm that devices have been cleaned. However, not all devices need to be disposed of in a landfill. Repurposing, recycling, or donating devices that are beyond their warranty to others where possible is an effective and sustainable practice.
A single one-stop system for hardware asset management can help you lower costs, reduce compliance risk, ensure IT security, and unify workflows:
- Manage hardware assets throughout the seven stages of the asset lifecycle from request through retirement
- Control inventory across multiple locations
- Reduce the cost of purchasing and managing hardware assets
- Simplify asset management processes with prescriptive workflows
Teqtivity provides a central platform of IT assets to cut costs, reduce risk, and make it easier to track your hardware assets. So, if you’re looking to leverage a single system of action to achieve ITAM outcomes with your hardware quickly, make sure to check out our ITAM services.