If you are an IT-intensive organization, you must have a complex IT infrastructure with significant investments in IT inventory. While these IT assets and inventory are critical for seamless everyday operations, they can also disrupt operations or cause unnecessary downtime and hefty overhead costs if they are not tracked and maintained efficiently.
The solution: Robust IT inventory management software that can automate IT asset tracking and help you run smoother operations.
Below, we mention some common IT inventory challenges that companies face and how IT inventory management software can help you overcome them.
IT inventory management challenges
Managing IT inventory, especially without software and well-defined processes can make you vulnerable to multiple operational problems. These include:
- Inaccurate tracking: Using spreadsheets or manual systems for tracking hardware and SAM inventory is time-consuming, redundant, and prone to errors. Inaccurate tracking of IT inventory also hampers collaboration and information sharing across your organization.
- Limited visibility: Not knowing where your IT assets are and how they are being utilized is detrimental to IT operations. Without a proper IT inventory management tool and real-time data, you are at risk for increased costs, order management issues, stockouts, and poor vendor communication.
- Inventory loss/theft: When expensive IT Inventory is being checked in and out without full visibility on a centralized platform, it is hard to track down custodians and hold them accountable for misplaced or even stolen inventory items.
- Poor order management: Procurement of IT inventory usually requires significant capital. Being unable to manage low order stock, over-purchasing of license or untimely procurement orders can jeopardize budgets.
- Lack of cloud backup: Organizations using spreadsheets and other legacy systems are unable to create regular backups of crucial IT inventory information. This results in less secure data. If they lose their information, they have no way of getting it back.
Why do you need IT inventory management software?
IT inventory management software does much more than just track hardware and software details. It brings together procurement, finance, Work Orders, inventory, and contractual processes of IT assets — all on a single platform. With a robust IT inventory management tool in place, the real-time information will enable you to make knowledgeable business decisions.
Here is how you can use IT asset tracking software to your advantage:
1. Accurate tracking
IT equipment is expensive and you need to know where everything is at any given time. If your organization is spread across various locations, accurately tracking IT inventory becomes even more complex and critical. A robust IT inventory management software maintains real-time updates on all your IT assets’ location, utilization, and end-users.
Dedicated IT inventory management software also enables you to use barcodes or QR codes to label all your items after procurement for efficient, seamless tracking and complete data transparency.
2. Inventory lifecycle management
Managing the physical components of IT assets such as monitors, servers, networks, laptop computers, and other mobile devices can be very challenging. The management of these items includes the complete lifecycle from procurement to disposal or replacement all the while managing the accurate information on recommended useful life and contractual information of these items.
An IT inventory management tool automates all these tasks so you always have accurate, updated information on when assets need to be replaced or repaired. Inventory lifecycle management enables you to optimize the use of IT equipment and get the most out of your investment.
3. Automated purchase orders
Hardware IT investments are usually expensive and they take a huge chunk of your annual IT budget. Careful planning and procurement can lead to higher ROI, cost-effectiveness, and streamlined operations.
With IT inventory management software, you can save all the vendor information and the contractual data so whenever you need to order new stock, you don’t have to go through the manual search and create purchase orders from scratch.
A good inventory management tool allows you to automatically generate purchase orders so you can ensure that you are not low on inventory and no business operations are halted. Automated purchase orders enhance your stock management, and save correct data about warranties, returns, or late deliveries for future reference.
4. Reports and insights
Efficient inventory management software usually has a feature-rich dashboard that displays critical information and trends about your IT inventory usage. You can even customize your dashboard to keep an eye on maintenance, low order stock, check-ins, checkouts, etc.
Furthermore, you can also generate different types of reports for deeper insights. From vendor information reports to inventory reports, you can view all assets, broken down by their current location.
You can filter this data for the specific vendor or item history to make further decisions. Inventory reports, stock summaries, and sales margin reports can help you better understand your IT inventory supply chain. You can also easily export these to PDF or CSV formats for sharing.
5. Low order stocks
An essential part of good IT inventory management is knowledge of what you have in stock and managing it well. If you are using IT inventory management software, you can determine the low order threshold for every inventory item.
You can determine low-order stock items on the whole or for a particular location as well. This way, you can optimize stock levels to boost efficiency and meet the IT assets’ operational demands at all times. You can also set up notifications or email alerts when your inventory reaches a lower threshold and automate the purchase orders process to eliminate any delays.
6. Access and permissions
Customize user permissions according to your organization’s needs and provide a layer of oversight on assigned and checked-out IT equipment. With the IT inventory management software in place, you can restrict access ofIT assets to certain end-users while granting access to the rest.
You can also set up approvals and permissions so if a staff member needs to check out an inventory item, they would have to ask for permission from a relevant authority. Also, enable item verification for added security by sending a verification request to the current custodians of an IT asset.
Choosing the right IT inventory management software
Keeping track of IT inventory in real-time can be challenging but there is no need to get overwhelmed. Implementing IT inventory management software will allow you to automate and streamline all processes leading to greater efficiency and profitability.
However, choosing the right IT inventory management software can be tricky as well. Here are a few tips to help you choose one:
- The software should be powerful but intuitive. As most of your employees will use it for requesting hardware and software, it should be user-friendly.
- Choose a software that allows you to use existing information in the system to set KPIs and gain key business insights by generating reports.
- A good IT inventory management tool should have end-to-end lifecycle management features.
- It should offer a robust mobile app for on-the-go convenience.
- Make sure that you choose an ITAM tool that integrates seamlessly with your ITSM software for fast and convenient IT service management.
5 best practices for using IT inventory management software
Investing in IT inventory management software doesn’t benefit you unless you use it right. Here are five best practices you can incorporate into your IT inventory management strategy.
1. Categorize your IT inventory using the ABC analysis
The ABC technique refers to organizing your inventory in terms of the importance of items from high to low priority.
- A-items: These include the best-selling, highest priority stock and require periodic reordering and constant quality review. For instance, laptops for new and current employees or routers and switches.
- B-items: These are valuable but medium-priority stock and usually require monthly reordering. Examples are peripherals such as LED screens, keyboards, mice, etc.
- C-items: Low-priority stock. It is typically stored in high volumes with minimal reordering e.g. cables and batteries.
Organizing your stock by priority and managing its procurement accordingly saves you both space and money whilst streamlining service delivery for employees.
2. Optimize your warehousing efforts
Carry out the following to better warehouse your IT inventory:
- Regularly inspect your IT storage and keep it well-organized by removing clutter.
- Double-check the actual quantity of each item for accurate ordering purposes.
- Place your A-items closer to your workstation so you can easily locate them and send them to employees as needed.
- Use barcodes or RFID scanners to easily count identical items.
3. Set KPIs for IT inventory management
Eliminate guesswork; rather set and measure clear goals for your IT inventory management processes with these KPIs.
- Backorder Rate: (Number of delayed requests due to backorders / total number of requests placed) x 100
- Accuracy of Forecast Demand: [(Actual — Forecast) / Actual] x 100
- Fill rate: [(Number of total items — Number of shipped items) / Number of total items] x 100
- Carrying costs: [(Inventory service costs + Inventory risk costs + Capital cost + Storage cost) / Total inventory value] x 100
- Rate of inventory turnover: Cost of goods consumed / Average inventory
4. Implement lot tracking
Also referred to as batch tracking, lot tracking enables you to group similar or identical inventory items together and track them as batches.
Most IT inventory management systems come with an automatic batch tracking system where you can enter stock quantities for each inventory item and track their use and procurement need in the form of batches.
5. Accommodate for safety stock
Safety stock is an extra amount of stock that you should keep for emergency situations. Think of a company conference where you might need extra pairs of headsets, webcams, and AV devices.
Safety stock also helps you overcome unexpected spikes in demand and stockouts and acts as a buffer for longer-than-expected lead times.
AssetSonar is the leading IT asset management software used by IT-intensive organizations and businesses all over the globe.
Sign up today for a free 15-day trial.