Keeping a Digital Inventory for Your Business

digital inventory

As organisations invest more in their IT infrastructure; various workstations, servers, software licenses, and data sets become increasingly difficult to track and manage. When that happens, businesses suffer from performance problems, increased risk of cyber threats, and inflated costs. As a result, it is advisable for companies to track what their computing environment and networks are comprised of if they want to get the most out of their technology investments.

This year, cloud services, artificial intelligence, remote access tools, as well as the proliferation of mobile devices bring a whole new level of complexity to the workplace. To avoid being caught in a tangled mess of IT assets; performing a digital inventory benefits your business in a number of ways.

Improved maintenance and administration

When your business is managing 10, 20, or even 200 computers, it’s easy to lose track of the hardware and software you manage. With a detailed inventory of technology — complete with software license information, patch dates, and hardware models — businesses can track when a particular device or application is due for maintenance or software update.

On top of that, inventory helps you identify mission-critical systems and applications; which is a vital element to your disaster recovery plan. Therefore, compiling a list early will help you streamline time-consuming IT procedures in the long run.

Zero duplicate purchases

IT procurement is a difficult process without an inventory list. If you don’t know how many workstations require a particular software license, you could end up purchasing extra copies you don’t need. But with an IT inventory, your company can better track hardware and software; who uses certain programs, and acquire the right amount of licenses.

Enhanced strategic technology planning

You need to know the ins and outs of your current infrastructure before embarking on any IT project. For example, if your company plans to migrate to Office 365; you need to make sure you have enough bandwidth and network capacity to support applications like Skype for Business and SharePoint.

Better risk management

If you’re not tracking IT equipment leases and licensing agreements closely, or if a server that hosts financial data lacks network security resources; your company will fail to meet data regulations like ISO security regulations.

IT asset management allows companies to better process, store, and protect sensitive data to better meet data protection requirements. In other words, keeping an inventory will help you monitor, identify and resolve infrastructure issues early; saving your company from the legal, reputational and financial repercussions of non-compliance.

How to take stock?

Of course, digital inventories won’t do you much good unless you know how to create one capable of mitigating all of the threats to your investments.

Completing an inventory of your technology is not a difficult process; but it does require considerable amounts of time to collect information about all the machines, programs, and IT components you use. Start by creating a simple table of the technologies you maintain, including:

  • Computing devices – like tablets, desktops, laptops, smartphones, and servers
  • Peripheral hardware – such as printers, copiers, fax machines, external hard drives, and VoIP devices
  • Network devices – which cover routers and switches
  • Security controls – think antivirus software, web and email gateway solutions, encryption systems, intrusion prevention systems, and firewalls
  • Software – from cloud applications to operating systems to accounting programs

Once you’ve identified all the assets you own; document where they can be found, who has access to them, how critical they are to the business, and what sensitive data they store, if any.

For a more comprehensive list; include serial numbers, vendor information, software versions and hardware models to let staff know whom to contact for technical support or license renewals. Referencing end-of-life dates; warranty expiration dates, and the previous date of inspection also helps you determine when your systems need an upgrade.

Note that since you’re handling sensitive information about your IT infrastructure; inventories should be stored in a secure location or with a trusted managed services provider. Repeat this process at least twice a year; or when major structural changes occur to avoid unnecessary security and compliance risks.

Tracking your assets may seem like a relatively mundane task; but if performed correctly, it can make a world of difference to your organisation. In fact, we argue that every IT project you commit to from this point on must always begin with a thorough evaluation of your IT inventory.

Here at Empower IT, we keep track of and manage your IT assets. Why? So that when the time comes to migrate to the cloud; create a disaster recovery plan, install cyber security controls, or procure hardware and software, the entire process will be a breeze. Make sense of your infrastructure with an IT inventory — call us today.