Calming the ITAM Chaos During a Crisis

I love a good plan, don’t you? Plans, process, procedures – this is the nature of my work as an IT managed services provider.

I’m not alone. All of the companies I’ve talked to in the last 90 days had business continuity plans. Yet none had anticipated the possibility of a months-long pandemic.

With almost no warning, IT had to quickly deploy assets, get some security around them, and let them leave the premises or join the company network after employees bought new hardware for remote work. Not the first choice for process-oriented, compliance-driven ITAM professionals, but companies had to embrace the chaos and run with it.

Take 3 Steps to Tame the Chaos and Reorient an ITAM Program

With little hope for a quick return to pre-pandemic work and life, now is the time to adapt your ITAM plan and processes for new business realities and begin executing. Here are three key steps.

  1. Rethink how you refresh

If a company is on a three-year refresh schedule with 5,000 assets to run annually, that’s 20 a day. Don’t pause the refresh schedule, go ahead and deploy. Rather than one office location receiving 100 laptops, distribute those assets to employees working from home.

We’re doing this with a large bank. We image the asset for the specific employee, change the ship-to address, done.

The employee receiving new equipment must return the old hardware to the workplace, so that requires a tight process. We’re handling this process for our bank client, using a new receipt procedure.

  1. Conduct a physical inventory

There’s great value in conducting a physical inventory sooner rather than later, even with physical site restrictions. It’s a lasso around ITAM, a foundational step.

It’s hard work to make it happen at your locations, but an MSP can do a baseline site inventory when the workplace is accessible.

Also, you don’t need everyone to be back in the workplace. Enlist employees in a self-audit now, emailing them instructions on how to scan asset tags with their smartphones.

There’s much room for error in assets sitting on your distributed workforces’ dining room tables. Some employees may have been furloughed while working from home, and not all of those jobs will come back. By taking an inventory, you’ll know where the asset is and whether it’s encrypted, and you can enable a remote software wipe if needed.

Don’t put an inventory off until we’re post-Covid-19. You’ll gain internal acknowledgment in demonstrating process change and will see a marked improvement in accuracy, security and compliance.

  1. Plan for worksite return

The people working from home may come back to the workplace in a prolonged and phased approach. Office setups may change to accommodate new hygiene and physical distancing guidelines for end-users and field techs.

You’ll need to update your hardware database for new equipment locations and issue the manufacturers’ instructions for cleaning and disinfecting hardware. Consider distributing wipeable covers for electronics.

Even as you cope in the short-term, it’s important to take longer-term implications into account for ITAM. Business going forward likely includes permanent remote workers. What are the takeaways for managing IT assets among a dispersed WFH workforce? How will ITAM evolve for your enterprise and your IT operations?

There will be bumps in getting back on track. Your organization may not easily pivot to the new normal. Call on your MSP, and together, we can chart the path forward.

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