Today, we’re breaking down the pros of having an asset register for your IT resources and how to optimise it so that you’re never left in the dark. We’ll go over what an asset register is and how to set one up or optimise your existing system. This will help you make the most out of this resource that offers greater visibility into your business.
As we’re drawing closer to the end of life date for Windows 7 (January 14, 2020), an asset register becomes a very useful tool for keeping on top of which company devices still need to be upgraded to Windows 10. Check out more articles in our series on Windows 7 end of life here.
What Is An Asset Register?
Simply put, an asset register is a resource that details different assets owned or managed by a company. This asset management tool could be used to keep track of things like company equipment, buildings, money in the bank or digital files.
You can also use this register to keep a record of your company’s IT assets, both hardware (computers, tablets and smartphones) and software (applications and operating systems). This is what we’ll focus on today.
Why Does My Business Need An Asset Register?
Ideally, companies should keep asset registers for accounting and taxation purposes to make sure that their financial information is up to date. An asset register can record the purchase value of any particular asset and depreciate it over time in accordance with its lifecycle.
This makes sure you remain compliant with tax regulations and always have a clear picture of your company’s financial standing when it comes to the assets you own in case HMRC comes to breathe down your neck. You’ll also be able to answer any difficult questions that might come up as part of business tenders.
An asset register is also useful for keeping track of who is currently using things like company cars and computers and whether these need any servicing or updates. This can help you make sure that these assets are kept up-to-date and running optimally.
Why Does My Business Need An IT Asset Register?
When you use it to keep track of things like computers your company owns, your asset register can act as a key part of your IT strategy. By monitoring the technology you own, its capabilities, warranties and when it needs replacing, you can budget for your IT department better.
In addition, if one of the devices your company owns is faulty, runs slow or gets stolen or broken, you can find crucial details like its value and warranty information quickly and assess the problem without any delays.
This is helpful for any organisations that are computer-reliant, especially those organisations working in engineering, professional services, architecture and the creative industries. An asset register that keeps track of your organisation’s hardware makes sure that you can get your device fixed or replaced quickly.
An asset register is also helpful for maintaining a good level of cybersecurity within your organisation. It can be used to keep track of the operating system, firewall and any other software on all company devices so that you can make sure these are kept up to date to protect your organisation’s sensitive data.
This is especially important now that Windows 7 is coming to the end of its life. Your organisation’s devices that are still running on this operating system need to be updated so that they stay protected against cyber attacks after Microsoft stops offering updates for it in January 2020.
You can use your IT asset register to identify computers with operating systems that still need to be updated to Windows 10 and offer reminders to their users to make the switch.
So, whether you already have an asset register set up or want to create one, read on for some best practices that can help you get the most out of this resource.
Tips For Creating & Optimising Your Asset Register
While creating a new asset register or optimising an existing one is a large task, it’s not a very complex one, and when you need the information you track with it, you’ll be thankful you took the time to make it the best it can be. Below are a few best practices to make sure you get the most out of your asset management system.
1. Use the right tools
Depending on the size of your business, what you want to track and the complexity you need from your asset register, a spreadsheet might be enough for your organisation. You can create several sheets for different categories of assets, like devices and software products that you’ve bought.
You can also choose to invest in an asset management software that updates records automatically based on barcodes and minimises the chance of human error due to logging things improperly.
We recommend this to most organisations because using an automated asset register makes sure it’s always up to date and the information in it can be trusted to be accurate. This obviously saves lots of time too: with an automated asset register, you only need to check in every now and then to make sure it’s running properly.
2. Simplify your naming conventions
The names and numbers you choose for categorising your asset register should be memorable and easy to understand. You should also break down the assets you want to track into categories and subcategories where it’s appropriate to make your register easy to search.
Take for example the way Swedish furniture giant IKEA catalogues their products: their founder Ingvar Kamprad was dyslexic, so making product classifications clear was important so he could understand them. Product names in each category are grouped around a specific theme: for example, all IKEA’s beds and wardrobes are named after Norwegian places and all bed linens are named after plants and flowers.
Obviously, you might need to make your naming conventions a bit more complex than this and add a string of numbers or a barcode to your assets to differentiate and keep track of them carefully. However you choose to name your assets, the key things to keep in mind are consistency and searchability.
You want to make sure that whoever is using your asset register can easily find what they’re looking for and be able to accurately update it if this isn’t done automatically.
3. Decide what to track
There’s no point in tracking information that you won’t use. That’s why you need to figure out what you need to track for accounting and taxes, and what information will be useful for your organisation’s internal use.
For your IT asset register, this information could include things like computer model, operating system, CPU and memory capacity of a device. You should also track the current user of the device and where it’s being used: does it stay in the office or travel with your employee? Ideally, your asset tracking system should also detail software installed on the device, such as firewall and anti-virus products. You should also add the estimated replacement value of the asset as a field to track so that you won’t run into any unexpected hits to your organisation’s cash flow.
If you’re tracking software installed on the device, this could be a good chance for keeping on top of software updates and patches. Ideally, this will be done automatically. You should aim to review patches and updates regularly in your asset register to make sure your company devices are kept up to date.
As it’s common for employees to forget to update their devices, having your asset tracking system highlight where updates haven’t been installed can make for a valuable resource and reduce the likelihood of a data breach.
4. Keep it up to date
Your asset register isn’t a ‘set it and forget it’ kind of thing, but a living document that needs regular updating. Make sure that whenever you buy new devices for your organisation, they’re properly logged into your asset management system. The same goes for selling off any assets – you’ll want to mark down details of the sale for your bookkeeper.
If you’re using your asset register to track software updates on company devices, make sure that your asset register records changes automatically and accurately. You should also automate sending reminders for employees who haven’t updated their devices yet.
This is increasingly important now that organisations should make sure all operating systems are updated from Windows 7 as Microsoft stops service for it in January 2020.
Now that you know about some of the benefits of an asset register for your IT department, why not check out some of our other blog posts on IT strategy? Make sure to tune in regularly for more useful articles on our blog and stay tuned for our next event! Check out the other articles in our Windows 7 end of life series here.