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[Discuss] [OT] Asset Management

On 12/14/2011 9:04 AM, Kyle Leslie wrote:
> As I know many of you manage a lot of the equipment and things that go
> through your office I was wondering if anyone could assist.
> Currently at my company we do an awful job of managing everything from
> software to machines we hand out to users.  I suggested to one of my
> managers that we should really review our Asset management, well they
> decided to play a sick joke and put me in charge of it.  Does anyone know
> of any resources that I could leverage to at least get started on this.
> Books or anything at all would be useful.

I feel your pain. A few years ago, when I was a programmer at NYNEX, I 
made the mistake of opening the boxes that arrived with our new 
computers inside them, and I was instantly appointed as "the computer 
guy" and forced to carry them on a cord around my neck forever.

> I know the first problem always starts with getting the people to do the
> right thing but we are a small team and I am sure bad habits can be
> changed.

Oh, you innocent child. You are about to get a rude lesson in human 
nature.  They won't change. They won't tell you that they won't change, 
but they still won't change.

> As an example of a bad process (I think), we currently name our end-user
> machines after the person receiving it. Ie. BOS-KLESLIE, we run in to
> trouble with this in many areas but its just something I think is not a
> good way of doing things, for various reasons. 1 Major one is If we have to
> deploy a new machine to them (many/most remotely) we have to name the
> second machine BOS-KLESLIE2 then retrieve the old machine remove it from
> the domain and rename the newly deployed.  Well, when I came to this
> company we have machine names like BOS-KLESLIE5.  Quite frustrating when
> you don't know if 1-5 have returned.

That's not going to work. There is a reason that /people/ have 
social-security numbers: /people/ have very redundant and confusing 
names. /Computers/ need unique identifiers too, which must not be 
associated with any one person. It's sometimes handy to have 
location-specific names, but if your company has a central maintenance 
facility or other swap shop, the id codes should be generic: when you 
put someone's name on a device, you award them ownership and make that 
device a part of their status. A random number won't be associated with 
anything but what it /is/, and that's a tool that anyone can use, no 
different than the copy machine or the fax machine or the phone that 
looks like every other phone.

> Any suggestions at all would be useful.  We currently have software to do
> this (Track-IT) but if people have good suggestions I am open to those as
> well.

In no particular order, my suggestions:

1. Keep your sense of humor. You'll find that laptops, printers, cell 
phones, etc., will wander across the corporate culture according to 
social and professional affiliations that you can only guess at: the 
"does everything" expensive laptop will wind up in the hands of a 
low-level staffer, who traded her limited-function workstation to the 
boss, because the boss wanted something lighter to carry on the plane. 
The multi-color laser that was "spozed to be" in use in the graphics 
department will mysteriously wind up next to the Vice-President's 
secretary, and the graphics department will be putting in requisitions 
for more and more ink cartridges no matter how much you think they 
should get the laser back. Employees will trade cell phones at dizzying 
speed, every time they want to ditch a boyfriend or lose their spouse 
for a day.

2. Simplify everything you can, as much as you can. If you have a single 
brand for all computers, e.g., "Dell", then you can use Dell's software 
to keep track of the machines. Even if not, most computer BIOS chips 
allow you to add asset tags that can be locked out from changes, so that 
you can keep track of them either locally or remotely, depending on 
which inventory package you have available.

3. Be very careful how much data you gather. If you keep, as I once did, 
the records of logins by machine and location, you will find some 
amazing and disturbing coincidences that can start you wondering how the 
middle-managers in your company manage to stay either married or out of 
jail.  Trust me: sometimes, ignorance /is/ bliss: so long as you're 
reasonably sure that a given machine is still in the hands of a 
corporate employee, you've done your job.

4. Remember that you're fulfilling a corporate need, and that is that 
managers want someone to be accountable. Be sure that portable devices 
have good spill/drop/theft insurance, that source CD's are always 
accounted for (I always burned copies and gave them out instead of the 
originals), and that you have a "no big deal" speech on hand when 
someone arrives in a panic because their laptop is on it's way to 
Jamaica-the-country instead of Jamaica-in-Queens. Your most important 
asset is your attitude, and you must project a takes-it-in-stride 
sensibility that keeps your boss happy about picking you in the first place.



Bill Horne

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