When most companies think about how to manage emerging technologies for their operations, they tend to look at the software involved. While software asset management (SAM) is crucial to ensure a streamlined business model, you have to also focus on the tools and materials you use to read that software.
Today we’re going to dive into the world of hardware asset management (HAM) and how to utilize effective tracking strategies to ensure that you maximize productivity and minimize costs.
Since hardware can sometimes be an expensive asset, it’s crucial that you take care of it as best you can. Obviously, this is difficult to do in a warehouse or factory setting, but it’s more than possible. We’re going to show you how to make it happen.
Identifying Hardware Assets
Anything that you use in your operations that is a physical object, whether it’s a computer, a scanner, or a tablet, must be managed with care and attention. HAM should be part of your broader overall strategy with IT asset management(ITAM) to ensure that you can reduce costs and improve efficiency across the whole system.
One important thing to remember with HAM is that you need to develop a system for handling the materials from procurement to retirement. The more comprehensive your strategy is, the better you will be at minimizing problems and costs associated with it.
Benefits of Hardware Asset Management
Overall, once you start implementing these procedures into your daily operations, you will begin to notice some significant returns. Here are some things that you can expect from high-quality HAM.
- Reduced Downtime: since the hardware is properly taken care of from the cradle to the grave, there is a much lower chance that items can get damaged or broken.
- Faster Repairs: chances are that your IT team is already swamped with software and installation, so the less that they have to deal with hardware issues, the better. A comprehensive plan should enable more people to troubleshoot and solve problems as they arise, meaning that you can get back online sooner.
- Reduced Costs: rather than repairing or replacing hardware as it breaks down, you can increase the overall lifespan of your materials. This will help your bottom line along with improved efficiency of your system.
Average Life Cycle of Hardware
To make sure that your plan covers every aspect of your hardware, it’s imperative that you know exactly what it goes through from procurement to retirement. While your particular operating system may differ from this, we have created a general guideline to help you build a structure for your HAM.
- Hardware Request
- Procurement of Device(s)
- Software Installation
- Deployment on the Floor (or the Field)
- Daily Use (including problems and fixes)
- Storage/Downtime (planned or otherwise)
- Warranty or Maintenance Plan Expires
To ensure that you are managing your hardware effectively, we suggest breaking each part of the life cycle down with regards to who will be using or handling it at any given time.
For example, IT will be the point of contact during the initialization of software, as well as any updates or repairs that need to be made.
Deployment, use, and storage will most likely be handled by floor staff and supervisors for daily operations. Finally, procurement, retirement, and disposal will most likely be the responsibility of management to ensure that everything follows procedures and regulations.
By separating procedures based on the department and staff who will be using the hardware at that point, you can develop customized strategies for each section. This way, you can avoid redundancies, and you won’t have to worry about training employees on something that they will not have to do.
How to Craft a Hardware Asset Management Strategy
Again, it’s imperative that you make your plans as comprehensive as possible so that you can account for every detail or issue that may come up. While there will always be room for updates, it’s best to have a strong foundation on which to build so that you are merely adding to your action plan, rather than rebuilding it from scratch.
Request and Procurement
During this phase, it’s important to research different hardware to find out which ones will meet your needs. Overall, is it better to have more expensive items that will last longer, or do you want higher savings now for a shorter lifespan?
If possible, try and utilize a prototype on the floor so that you can test it in real-world conditions before committing to anything.
Deployment and Use
Make sure that all staff members that have to handle the hardware are well trained on how to both use it and troubleshoot common problems that occur. To create a sense of ownership, you can have employees sign each piece of equipment out, so that if there is a problem or it breaks on their watch, they are held accountable in some way.
When deploying hardware for the first time or from storage, it’s imperative that it is also tested as it goes out and once it comes back in. This serves as a check and balance to minimize mistakes or miscommunication between staff members.
Problem Solving and Upgrading
Ideally, each item should be tested and inspected on a regular basis to make sure that there are no issues that could have been prevented. Also, updates should be done as needed to ensure proper software compatibility.
If something does go wrong on the floor, have employees fill out a detailed report of what happened so that IT can better understand the issue before trying to fix it.
Retirement and Disposal
No matter how carefully you treat your hardware, eventually it has to be replaced. Try to utilize recycling programs to recoup some losses and be sure to delete any proprietary information before getting rid of it.
Hardware asset management, in conjunction with software and IT asset management, can help improve your bottom line and make your operations run that much smoother. As such, you should pay extra attention to make sure that you’re doing it correctly.