ITSM

Go HAM on Your ITAM Strategy by Avoiding These 6 Mistakes

October 8, 2020

Go HAM on Your ITAM Strategy by Avoiding These 6 Mistakes

Okay, now we have you thinking about ham and that delicious holiday meal on the horizon. While not quite as delicious, hardware asset management, or HAM, is something IT should have on its plate this season.

“What would it cost to replace all the desktops and laptops in your organization?” A hypothetical question posed on a recent webcast by Jon Hauser, IT director at the University of Washington School of Social Work. The answer, “Unless you have an actual inventory, you can’t answer that question.”

This quote underscores the importance of HAM, especially under the current remote work and virtual learning circumstances. With hundreds of devices going out, being returned, and getting upgraded while employees work from home and slowly transition back into the office, IT pros should have a solid HAM system to lean on.

Easier said than done, but if you know what to look out for when practicing HAM, you can avoid these six common mistakes.

1. Hardware sharing

Scenario: an employee just completed the onboarding process and receives their “new” laptop. They begin working on the laptop, storing important documents on it, submitting service desk tickets, and getting familiar with the software applications they’ll use daily. But as the IT pro, you begin to notice the employee using this laptop isn’t the same person it was originally assigned to. This is the result of not keeping a record of devices and their owners.

Establish a clear and well-advertised policy about how to handle hardware assignments when an employee leaves, either temporarily or permanently.

2. Hardware hoarding

Are you sure the number of devices you think you have in the business is accurate? It’s not uncommon for there to be an office closet full of unused laptops or desktops that were forgotten or…hoarded with the promise to be used when the time is right. While working from home, employees need reliable devices—and if the current one they have breaks down, there should be backup options for them to use.

It’s a good idea to have some eyes from IT stroll through various departments regularly, looking for instances of hoarding. This can rack up a hefty IT bill while offering no ROI for the company, and it usually comes out of IT’s already strapped budget.

3. Tampered-with serial tags

Having serial tags that are partially or fully removed, ripped, or damaged in any way can cause problems for the business down the line. In addition to these tags being essential for managing hardware, if a software vendor runs an audit, the tag could indicate whether you have a valid license to run the software on that equipment.

Periodically remind employees not to tamper with those tags and to notify IT immediately if something happens to it—whether in the office or working remotely.

4. Hardware theft

Hardware theft is a harsh reality, but nonetheless, it happens. With more people working from home and schools switching to remote learning, theft is possible. A Prey Project report says students who take devices from students or the school, family members that take devices without permission, ex-employees who refuse to turn in their device, and roommates that hide devices for themselves are not uncommon theft scenarios.

Sound theft deterrent policies should be in place, but IT should also be trained on how to handle those who fail to or refuse to return hardware.

5. Improper hardware retirement

Simply tossing a device out after it’s run its course without properly retiring it can cause serious security vulnerabilities. Consider adding a sticker alongside the asset management tag to warn users not to throw away, give away, or take equipment to a recycler without contacting IT first. IT can then perform the necessary procedures to thoroughly wipe data before it leaves the company.

6. Shadow IT

Shadow IT is anything but in the shadows. Employees, particularly during remote work, are no longer waiting for and clearing application downloading decisions with the IT department. Instead, many are resolving their own issues and tech needs. Studies show shadow IT can be upwards of 50% of IT spending in large enterprises.

While this phenomenon can spark fear in CIOs and IT leaders, it’s an opportunity for them to empower their employees. IT can make suggestions about the types of programs employees can pick and choose from and which ones to avoid. They can also get feedback from employees about applications that may be useful to others in the business.

IT has a unique opportunity to redefine its role as an educator and policymaker, while helping employees rather than hindering their choice of work tools.

Now that we’ve laid out six common mistakes with hardware asset management, it’s time to revisit the asset management policies in your business. Getting the right asset management solution for your business needs can enable you to better organize your existing inventory, quickly identify and resolve issues, and budget for upgrades.


Jason Yeary is a technical expert for SolarWinds Service Desk customers and a former service desk manager in the healthcare industry. He is ITIL 4 certified and specializes in ITSM best practices, configuration, and integrations. He also has a refined palate for craft beer and knows professional football news before it's on your TV.