If you are like many organizations, you might not have the best handle on your IT assets. You might not know how many assets you have, where they are, or who has what. There is probably a tipping point that is causing you to get your physical IT assets in order. Usually it's losing an asset like an iPad or a docking station. Or maybe your organization is going fully remote. Perhaps you have a growing number of employees or users spread out among many different locations. Or maybe you have an employee who is leaving, and you have no idea what assets they have in their possession that must be returned.
Whatever your reason is, creating a plan to manage your hardware assets will be worth your time and pay out dividends in the future. Here is what you need to know to get started effectively managing your hardware assets.
What is a Hardware Asset Management (HAM) Plan?
A plan to manage your IT assets is known in the industry as a Hardware Asset Management (HAM) plan. This plan is also known as fixed asset management, asset tracking, or equipment tracking. Basically, it is a plan to manage the physical components of your IT equipment, such as laptops, desktops, and servers. A HAM plan is useful because it covers the lifecycle of your equipment from the date it is procured to the date it is retired.
What are the Benefits of a Hardware Asset Management Plan?
Some of the main benefits of a HAM plan include reduced maintenance costs, reduced hardware budgets, reduced software spending, and increased value recovery through the disposition process. An effective HAM plan can decrease the amount of time spent fixing hardware issues or procuring hardware. It gives an organization not only a 10,000-foot view of its hardware but, more importantly, specific details about where each component is located, its condition, and whether it is currently in use.
By knowing where your fixed assets are and how they are being used, an organization can more efficiently:
- Locate any lost or missing equipment.
- Track down equipment from an employee who is leaving the organization.
- Understand what equipment needs to be purchased for the next group of new hires.
- Repair or replace equipment that is broken or in need of routine maintenance while minimizing the downtime for the employee using the equipment.
- Keep track of equipment that is nearing end-of-life to assist with decisions about purchasing and disposition.
- Collect any equipment that is no longer needed so that it can be disposed or retired.
- Follow trends of equipment usage to determine if certain brands of equipment are working better than others or are more preferred by employees.
Now that many employers are allowing employees to work remotely, collecting equipment from remote workers when they quit or are terminated can be complicated. With a HAM plan, this task is made easier because you know exactly what the employee has and where the equipment is. Armed with this information, you can easily set up a plan for the equipment to be returned.
Because a HAM plan contains an active IT disposition schedule, organizations have the potential to recover more value for their assets when they are ready to retire of them. This is because assets depreciate quickly and tracking the hardware that you have and when it is ready to retire will ensure that you are able to sell it at the optimal time and receive the highest amount possible when you resell it.
A HAM plan can also help guide your purchasing decisions. By having a detailed overview of the equipment you have, you will be able to determine what kind of equipment you need and how much of it your organization needs to purchase. For example, let’s say you are onboarding two new employees. Instead of going straight to purchasing the equipment needed to onboard them, you can look at any equipment you have that is not currently assigned to a user and determine if that equipment can be used by the new hires.
Further, a HAM plan provides insight into how your employees are using your equipment. Let’s say that one of your employees is constantly having issues with a laptop and requesting repairs. This could mean that your employee has a lemon that needs to be replaced. Or perhaps the employee needs training on how to properly care for the equipment. Or maybe when you look at your list of assets you discover that your employees prefer using Apple products. Or you notice that equipment by certain brands are requiring more repairs than other brands. This is useful information to know when planning purchasing decisions.
How Do You Create a Hardware Asset Management Plan?
At its most basic level, a HAM plan requires that you track each one of your IT assets.
1. Pick a Method for Tracking Equipment
While some organizations use spreadsheets to get started, there are many affordable asset tracking software options that are better suited to manage this task like Assetbots. Asset tracking software also provides an audit trail. For this reason, many organizations prefer using it over spreadsheets. If you are already using a spreadsheet, most asset tracking software will allow you to import your list to get started.
2. Create an Inventory of Assets
Next, you’ll need to compile a list of each asset you want to manage. You’ll want to start with tracking basics about each item such as its type, brand, model, and description. If desired, you can also track information related to each stage in the lifecycle of your hardware assets. You should track information related to:
- The procurement of the asset (i.e., cost and vendor)
- Deployment (i.e., whether the equipment is ready to be deployed or assigned)
- Usage (i.e., is the equipment currently assigned to a person or place)
- Storage/not in use (i.e., is the equipment not being used)
- End of warranty or maintenance (i.e., when is the equipment due for maintenance)
- Retirement (i.e., when does the equipment reach end-of-life)
- Disposal (i.e., has the equipment been disposed, what value was recovered)
You should make sure to detail the physical location of each asset, its availability (i.e., whether it is currently in use), who is using it, the condition of the asset, and its disposition schedule. Ideally, you should have some sort of tracking mechanism for the asset (i.e., barcodes or QR codes) so the asset can be easily located when necessary and to avoid security or chain of custody issues that could lead to data breaches, loss, or theft by employees or others.
3. Create Policies and Procedures for Use of Equipment
As part of your HAM plan, you should put processes and procedures into place detailing how assets should be tracked from the date of acquisition to their end-of-life. For example, when an asset reaches its end-of-life, what is the process for replacing or disposing of the item?
You should also have a policy in place covering the usage of your equipment by employees or users. For example, are there safety precautions they must follow when they are taking equipment off-site? What should they do if they lose an item? Are they allowed to use the equipment for personal business?
These policies, processes, and procedures are not only important for security purposes, but also ensure the organization is optimizing their use of every asset.
In summary, a HAM plan offers clear cost-saving and time-saving benefits while increasing the security of your IT assets. Using asset tracking software is the easiest way to get started on creating a HAM plan.
Assetbots is easy-to-use, modern asset tracking software that is cloud-based and can be accessed from any internet-enabled device. Among other features, Assetbots allows you to quickly and easily:
- Compile an inventory of your equipment and assign tracking numbers to each item.
- Locate your equipment and discover who has custody of it.
- Check out equipment to different locations and/or people.
- Track history of use and custody of each asset.
- Check-in and check-out equipment from any internet-enabled device without the need for a special scanner.
Visit Assetbots to get started, no sign up required, and start tracking your assets today.