Magazine article Technology & Learning

Assessing Your Assets: Systems for Tracking and Managing IT Assets Can Save Time and Dollars

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Assessing Your Assets: Systems for Tracking and Managing IT Assets Can Save Time and Dollars

Article excerpt

The average school district loses more than $80,000 per year because of lost or damaged IT assets, according to a QED survey cosponsored by Follett Software Company. And many districts--59 percent--still use manual systems to track assets. Enter asset management systems.

As executive director for technology in a large urban district, I can attest that software for managing assets, when implemented properly, can save time, money, and human effort. The following are suggestions to help you realize the promise of automated asset management in your district.

1. What issues can asset management systems address?

For starters: the ability to know where PCs are and who is using them. While this information is extremely useful, asset management systems typically offer many other benefits. Are you interested in tracking software licenses? What about computer components within a system? Would you like to be notified when components change? Do you want to track PC drift, the undocumented movement of equipment within or out of your organization? Do you need to track lease expirations on equipment? All of these issues need to be considered when comparing systems.

2. How does asset management software work?

Asset management applications work by gathering information from systems connected to your district's network. Systems usually require having a client installed on each workstation.

Each client checks in with the main system periodically to report its internal inventory of hardware and software and where it is calling in from--its IP address. This is not like GPS technology, where you can pinpoint the exact physical location of the computer (however, you can get close if your network is segmented properly). The real benefit of knowing the IP address is that you can determine if a computer is sitting on your district network or an outside network. This saves you from filing unnecessary theft reports for equipment that has simply been moved without approval.

3. What features do asset management systems offer?

The majority of systems will allow you to gather and report information about computer assets on your network, including hardware, software, and software utilization. If you are concerned about theft of components like memory or hard drives or want to be alerted to system upgrades, more advanced systems will monitor assets at the component level and generate alerts for missing items or changes to system components.

Most asset management systems will report software installed on each computer and allow you to track software licenses compared to actual usage for optimum license management and compliance. Once you set your purchased license levels, the system can generate alerts for software license agreement violations and unauthorized software installations. And if your district wants information regarding computer peripherals such as printers and audio-visual equipment, many systems track items that are not network aware.

4. What technical requirements need to be considered?

Having comprehensive asset management across platforms is the only way to accurately track items like software licenses and lease expirations, so verify that the systems you are considering manage computer assets across multiple platforms (Windows, Macintosh, Unix, Linux, Novell). A system that supports only one platform will ultimately frustrate your asset management efforts. …

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