Asset Management On-Boarding and Off-Boarding Users (Part 2 of 3) Tips for Building an On-Boarding Process

As I look back on my life, I always hated the ‘first day.’ I find the ‘first day’ of almost anything to be exhausting. First day on the job, first day of school, first day of college, first day of the year, you get the point. I don’t know if it is just me but my face always seems to hurt after the first day at a new job because I feel like I have been smiling way more than normal. You know how it is, trying to make a good first impression.

When starting a new job, I am sure most people are familiar with their very first task on their very first day; completing and returning the ‘packet’ to the HR representative. That packet contains documents for health insurance, tax deductions, and various other necessities and benefits employees will have during their employment. All that paperwork….Exhausting!!

After completing the HR packet, it is time to get the tools required to do the job. For me, as it is for many people, that tool is a laptop. Along with the laptop, I need software, an email account, a network account, an MSDN subscription, a phone, a phone number which requires an account with a carrier, permission to network shares, a building access card, and other various tools that usually fall under the responsibility of IT.

My age or, even better stated, my extensive experience has allowed me to see good and bad examples of how IT equipment is given to a new employee.

Pitfall

  • On your first day, your boss will start walking you to different people from IT saying things like, “Hey Bob, this is Marcel. He is starting today, can you get him a phone?” Next he will take you to Mike, “Hey Mike, this is Marcel. He is starting today, can you set him up with an email account and give him network access? Also, can you call Jay and have Jay get him a building access card?” Finally, your boss takes you to his desk, opens a drawer and pulls out a laptop. He says “This used to be Dave’s laptop; the guy you are replacing. I don’t know what’s on it so feel free to re-image the laptop.”
    • This ad-hock style of asset management is a good example of poor asset management. Poor asset management results in lost IT assets.

The Ponemon Institute released a study (conducted independently and sponsored by Intel) of The Billion Dollar Lost Laptop Problem.

Participating organizations reported that in a 12-month period 86,455 laptops were lost or otherwise went missing. That added up to 263 laptops per organization on average.

To avoid losing IT Assets, create processes to track assets when they are assigned and reassigned to employees throughout the asset lifecycle. On-boarding user processes will help you track an asset so that the asset can be recovered when the user leaves your organization or if the user is transferred within your organization.

To build an efficient On-Boarding process, list all IT assets an employee will need based on their position.

Onboard

Define a process that assigns IT assets to employees. Assets assigned should be based on the employee’s position.

On-Boarding1

After you define the process to on-board the new employee, automate everything by using a business process manager (BPM). Automation will help eliminate human error and it will enforce your on-boarding process by not allowing any deviation.

Onboarding3

Automated processes should have the ability to check for ‘available’ IT assets, such as available laptops and software licenses. If a process determines an asset is not available, it should automatically generate a request to your business partners so that a PO can be generated and the asset can be ordered. At a minimum, a request should be sent via email to the appropriate person in charge of completing the task.

Summary

When you setup automated processes to map users to the assets they use, you decrease the potential of losing the asset. When users move within a company or when users leave a company, automated processes need to be in place to recover IT assets, to remove permissions to sensitive online data, and to cancel accounts and subscriptions. I will discuss Off-Boarding users in Part 3 of this series.

-follow me on Twitter @marcelshaw

Asset Management On-Boarding and Off-Boarding Users (Part 1 of 3) The Pitfalls

Many years ago, I resigned from my job so that I could pursue another opportunity. I wrote a resignation letter to make it official and sent an email to all the people I had the pleasure of working with during my employment. I was ready to take on an exciting new job. What made everything so good was that I left that company on such good terms.

My Company laptop was AWESOME!

A few months prior to leaving my employer, my laptop had been upgraded with the latest and fastest model on the market. When I say the latest model, I also mean the latest technology. To emphasize that I am not exaggerating about that laptop, let me tell you about some of the specs. The laptop had a screen that would pivot around and lay flat over the keyboard so that it was converted to a tablet. Yes, a tablet before the dawn of the iPad and smart phone.

image1

image2

image3

The laptop screen responded to a special pen that would slide out from the bottom of the laptop. The pen alone was expensive to replace. Anytime I used that laptop in public, people would stop and ask me about it. The laptop came complete with the latest OS and Office tools including Visio and Adobe Professional. All software licenses were owned by my employer. Located on the bottom of that laptop was a sticker with the company’s asset tag information.

Saying goodbye to the awesome laptop

The day I resigned, I placed the laptop along with all its accessories on the corner of my desk. It was ready to be sent back to my soon-to-be ex-employer.

Yesterday (2015)

I took that company laptop off my desk and placed it in a box. I guess I will store it in the garage.

Yesterday as I was placing the laptop in a box, I had a residual feeling of guilt as I gazed upon the asset tag with the company’s name glaring back at me. I also felt a little angry because there was no reason I should feel bad as often as I did about having that laptop in my possession for the past 10+ years.

What Happened?

After I resigned, I asked my boss how I should return my equipment since I had been working from home and there was not an office in my local area. She put me in contact with someone from the corporate office. That person told me to expect shipping information and labels in my personal email within a week. After a couple of weeks passed I contacted the company again because I had not heard anything. The person I spoke with at corporate told me she would follow-up with the person who was in charge of getting me the shipping information.

 Pitfall

  • The process for recovering company assets was manual
    • Manual processes fail because people make mistakes. Automated processes for tracking IT assets will remove human error.

Once again, I did not hear back from anyone so I tried to contact my ex-boss. She was no longer there. The new manager never returned my calls.

Pitfall

  • Asset Tracking was assigned to a person
    • Remember that employees come and go. When designing an Asset Management System, be sure to assign responsibilities to a role instead of a person. When someone comes into a role, they inherit the responsibilities, rights, and accountability defined by the “role.”

 

The runaround continued for the next 18 months. I spoke to several different people and I even offered to pay for the shipping so that I could get rid of this laptop, along with the guilt building inside me, but nobody could tell me where to send it and to whom I should send it. They had completely lost track of the laptop in my possession.

 Pitfall

  • There was not an automated process in place to track IT assets
    • The company relied on their managers to track the equipment that their employees were using. When employees left the company, managers relied on people from the corporate office to facilitate the return of equipment. Furthermore, tracking methods that were used did not “alert” anyone when something was missing. I came to this conclusion since nobody ever came looking for that laptop.  

 

The company I worked for, the owner of the laptop, eventually went out of business. I would assume the loss of their laptop due to poor Asset Management is not why they went out of business. But I assume it did not help; especially if this was a common occurrence.

A critical component for effective asset management is the process of mapping an IT asset to a user and then removing that mapping from the user while recovering the asset. Start by focusing on how to assign assets to new users, then how to recover assets from departing users.

On-Boarding Users

When new employees join a company, a process should be in place to list all the assets the user will need. That process should then automatically assign the assets to the user. It should also track assets along with who has the asset for the entire lifecycle of the asset. On-Boarding users will be discussed in greater detail in Part 2

Off-Boarding Users

Automated processes should be in place to recover assets that are mapped to a user who is leaving the organization. Off-boarding should also be able to recover any software licenses, subscriptions, accounts, or permissions the employee was using while working for the organization. Off-Boarding users will be discussed in greater detail in Part 3

4 Suggestions for Effective Software Asset Management

An employee from the accounting office in a very large organization noticed a discrepancy with a software renewal bill. The software bill was for 1,300 software licenses; however, the department using the software only had 300 users. The accounting office also noted the organization had been overpaying the renewal for the software licenses for three years. It took a closer look at their business processes so that they could determine why they had purchased 1,300 licenses for 300 users.

Every year, this organization went through a hardware refresh of approximately one third of all PC/laptops. When analyzing how hardware and software assets were purchased, they noticed the employee that was assigned to purchasing computers and laptops kept track of all the purchases using a spreadsheet. This person would then issue a PO for the software licenses needed for software to be installed onto the new PC/laptops.

Next, the organization looked at how PC/ laptops were disposed. They determined the person who was in charge of disposing of PC/laptops during the hardware refreshes also used a spreadsheet to keep track of PC/laptops that were decommissioned. There was absolutely no communication between the two people or the two processes.

The conclusion of the investigation determined that the organization was actually throwing away usable software licenses during the hardware refresh. Software licenses assigned PC/laptops that were decommissioned were not reassigned to the new PC/laptops that replaced them. The root of the problem was simple; they did not have a process or software tools in place to properly track and manage their software licenses.

Avoid Using Spread Sheets

Avoid using spreadsheets to track your software licenses; instead, use a software asset management database to track licenses. Link software licenses to the PC/laptops where the software is installed. Create a process that removes the link between software license and PC/laptops that are to be decommissioned. Show software licenses that are no longer linked to a PC/laptop as “available” so they can be linked to new devices as needed.

Use discovery tools to discover and track software that is installed on the end-user devices.

Inventory should be obtained from your devices on a regular bases. Configure automated discovery tools that report back to an asset management database. This will ensure an up-to-date accounting of all installed software.

Asset Reports

Track Software Usage

Use software discovery tools that have the ability to track software usage. When tracking software applications, it is beneficial to know if applications provided are being used by the end-users. It is helpful if your software asset management tool has the capability to report if software has not been used in 30 days, 90 days, six months, one year, etc. Collecting usage information allows you to re-allocate licenses from users who do not use the software instead of purchasing additional licenses.

Setup a Self-Service Request Portal

Setup a portal for the employees who are responsible for ordering software and hardware. A request portal can be linked to automated ITIL processes that use a Service Catalog. The request portal should update the asset management database when a purchase order is issued with any new hardware/ software assets.

-follow me on Twitter @marcelshaw