Editor’s Note: This article was last updated on March 26, 2019
Why Proper Documentation and Asset Records are Critical to Plan for IT Asset Disposition
There are three facets to IT support. The first is troubleshooting and problem solving. The second is user interaction and serving end users who are basically your customers. The final aspect of the job is documentation. It isn’t necessarily the most fun part of the job, but it is no less important than the other two. Without proper documentation, your company is basically at the mercy of your current staff. This exposes your company to great risk however when one or more of those knowledgeable employees leaves. You may have an outstanding support team that knows your network inside and out and solves problems in record time. But then that person leaves the organization and suddenly, those recurring problems that were solved so quickly now require greater research and resolving time. It doesn’t even have to be an internal employee but a staff member of an outsource provider you depend on. Documentation allows for consistence performance across your organizational teams so that everyone follows the same processes. It should be a disciplined habit that is practiced by your IT Team.
The importance of regular asset inventory procedures
Improved consistency and productivity aren’t the only reasons to practice good documentation. The need to conduct regular equipment inventory procedures has always been necessary, but with the proliferation of mobile and IoT devices, the need is even more essential today. Documentation is critical to manage refresh cycles, device management as well as security and compliance. It all starts with IT Asset Management or Inventory Management which involves collecting detailed hardware information concerning servers, client PC’s, printers, switches, routers, IoT devices and other peripherals. The inventory will include such attributes as the device name, IP address, vendor name, device model, processor, memory and storage resources, etc. An asset inventory includes software as well including the operating system version and all installed applications as software licensing fees asset a large component of IT budgets. A comprehensive list of what you should inventory can be found here.
Ensuring up-to-date asset records and documentation is essential for your organization’s business and security strategies as well as meeting compliance obligations concerning asset disposal. At the very minimum, a well implemented asset management program will save time and money by avoiding unnecessary asset purchase and disposal actions. Thorough inventory documentation is essential in order to replace end-of-life equipment and replicate the resources necessary to meet workload requirements. Your documentation will serve as the foundation for a strategic asset management plan that will give IT managers the ability to assess what the value of an asset is over its lifecycle. Cost analysis will then aid in determining which assets are worth replacing and which should be simply disposed of in order to cut costs. This is especially important in an era in which technology evolves so rapidly and refresh cycles continue to shrink.
Hiring a third party to conduct your asset discovery
While large corporate enterprises often have a network management system that performs inventory functions, these systems are usually too expensive for small and medium size companies. If you are like most organizations, you should consider an outside firm that is experienced in the process to perform this service. These asset inventory audits are performed using automated, agent-less discovery that is initiated by an appliance or downloaded application. The third party firm will only conduct their discoveries in the subnets you dictate and configurations do have to be altered during the asset detection process. The discovery only takes a couple of hours and a report is then sent to the customer. It is from this report that you can begin to strategize your asset disposition program.
Creating an IT asset disposition program
At some point, you have to say goodbye to every device on your network. This is where a well thought out asset disposition program comes into play. Disposing of IT equipment is an involved process. That’s because it isn’t just a collection of metal and plastic components. Your company’s data footprints are encased within these devices. While the equipment itself may have little value left, the data that continues to reside within these devices can have a long sustained life of their own. Computers, smart phones, hard drives, data tapes and even printers can hold lingering information concerning proprietary information or the personal data of customers, employees and shareholders. The improper disposal of IT equipment can open all parties, as well as your reputation. Proper disposal means creating and adhering to strict processes is essential to ensure that every effort has been made to prevent data from ending up in the hands of malicious perpetrators. For instance, there the disposal process of used hard drives can include such procedures as wiping, degaussing, crushing and shredding. Most businesses lack the expertise and experience to handle this type of secure disposal and tracking. In most cases, it is highly recommended that companies and organizations partner with an established company with expertise in these procedures and have the trained personnel and equipment to ensure your disposal endeavors are implemented securely and successfully. An experienced company should provide a guarantee that your equipment is accurately disposed of accordingly.
Plan ahead of time
Of course the time to think about the disposal of your obsolete technology isn’t the day that you are ready to unload it. Through the practice of detailed asset management and a well-conceived disposition program, you and your IT asset disposition partner can ensure that your disposal and recycling processes are conducted in a manner that meets all internal, industry and governmental compliances. It is important to track and maintain documentation of the entire disposition process for your records for auditing purposes as well as attain a certification of destruction from your partner. Even for equipment that is destined for normal recycling processing, documentation is critical for government entities concerning equipment purchased with tax payer dollars.
Equipment that doesn’t have to be disposed of for security reasons can be remarketed or recycled, which means some degree of compensation for you. By keeping ample records, a third party company will be able to assess what equipment can be refurbished and remarketed and what needs to be simply recycled for materials. Working with a partner with this level of expertise can help ensure that you get the best value for all of your devices. This means extra capital that can be allocated towards new equipment.
Documentation is an essential element of running an IT department. Proper documentation helps ensure that established protocols are followed accordingly and help increase productivity, lower costs and enhance security. It may not be the sexiest part of the job, but it is an indispensable one, and one that can help achieve strategic advantages for your company.
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