Nov 09, 2016 - 03:17 AM
Nov 09, 2016 - 08:06 AM
In a sense, this is the holy grail for hardware and software asset management. In theory, if one could develop a formal, rigorous process for this, it would be possible to, among other benefits, dramatically reduce the scope and work needed for annual physical inventory tours and reconciliation efforts.
One way of restating the objective is that you need to ensure that the official Status value for your assets is correct. Let's say you use the values of "Assigned" and "Unassigned" to indicate whether or not and asset has been allocated to a user or a department. If an asset record has an incorrect Status value of Unassigned, this is relatively easy to determine or prove using discovery data. However, the opposite is quite difficult to prove using simple data detection methods and formulas.
If an asset has a Status of a Assigned, how do you prove that is incorrect? Say your you have an emergency backup laptop supporting a critical business operation, but it thankfully hasn't been needed in over six months. In a perfect world, there would be a process where it would be connected periodically and updated, but let's say it's not a perfect world and you haven't heard from it on the network in over six months. This is obviously an exceptional case, and you wouldn't want exceptions such as this to prevent you from otherwise making use your high-quality discovery data to reconcile your non-exceptions.
One approach is to create field named something like Expected Pulse Rate, and categorize the devices' last network "pulse" time stamp based on this value (e.g. 30 days, 90 days, 180 days, etc.). There would be some additional overhead to assigning and maintaining the accuracy of the Expected Pulse Rate values, but it would pay off if it's part of a larger process model that automates larger portions of your inventory reconciliation and QC processes.
Other than designing around the problem, you are left with more indirect approaches. You might be fortunate and find high quality data from a separate source, such as an internal or external surplus/disposal process, that could be used to great effect.
But even if you design the best possible automated reconciliation process, and have leveraged all available data sources possible, there will still be a few stubborn "legacy" records that must be reconciled somehow. For these, the best approach is to send out reports to respective users or departments and have them certify the official status one way or another. This can be supplemented with last known pulse or other proof-of-life evidence. Worst case, if they can't certify the asset's current status and due diligent analysis of available data indicates it's no longer in use, you write off the asset permanently and move on. You can hopefully design solid asset management methodologies that make such write-offs infrequent or even a one-time-only event.