Notions about auditing and inventories (part two)
6. Which tool to use?
- Automated inventory software: it is the solution that collects as much information as possible in a minimum of time. In addition, automated inventory software is almost indispensable if the purpose of the inventory includes tracking installed software.
Similarly, technical information such as the frequency of the processor is often only available by performing complex and dangerous technical manipulations (Bios reading) if collected otherwise than with an automated tool.
- Manual inventory: this is the most economical solution, but also the most time consuming.
- PDA inventory: an original solution proposed by some service providers and particularly adapted for inventories of location control. A list of managed devices is downloaded to a personal assistant (PalmPilot or PocketPC) which is then used to perform updates.
- Inventory barcode reader: the solution most used in the industrial field is not necessarily the best in the case of a computer environment. A barcode reader makes it easy to record complex and small information (for example serial numbers). But the programming of barcode readers remains tedious and its use reserved for very large computer parks. Moreover, when it comes to identifying a considerable number of characteristics for an inventoried material, bar code readers are absolutely impractical.
7.Do we have to physically go to each workstation?
Automated inventory software can now collect information via a network connection. But a certain number of operations are indispensable and require a passage on the workstation:
- Physical labeling of stations.
- Entering the location of the station: no software can identify the office in which a device is installed.
- Input of connected devices: Detection of devices connected via an inventory software is rarely reliable. Most of the time, the inventory software detects the drivers present to access a device and not the equipment itself.
- Identification of passive devices: hubs, Switch … but also fax machines or photocopiers are not recognized by automated inventory software.
8.Steps to follow:
- Before the inventory: prepare the procedure for inventories and prevent users.
- During the inventory: check regularly (preferably daily) the quality of the information collected.
- After the inventory: set up a clear strategy to monitor the changes in the computer park for a real-time update of the information. Among other things, it is necessary to identify the entries of new equipment in the park. Knowing that a computer park is renewed every 3 years, failing to keep up with the changes after an inventory makes the inventory false to 33% a year only after the end of the inventory.
9.Communication on inventory:
The computer workstation is very often considered a personal tool. Passing for information may be perceived as “espionage” by users. To avoid this type of reaction, it is necessary to explain the operation. Preliminary communication: Given that each user will be involved in the inventory (or even disturbed in his / her work), it is necessary to warn the people of the company by explaining the “why” and the “how”: control of configurations, reduction business tax, inventory of software licenses, reconciliation with fixed assets …
- Post-inventory communication: once the inventory has been completed, thank the users for their cooperation and let them know some interesting figures (distribution of machines by type, service …). This phase can also be an opportunity to make them aware of the importance of informing the IT department during the changes related to the park (installation of new equipment, removals, etc.).
In all cases, it is essential to identify the person responsible for communication for the project, the means of information to be used (mail, internal note, messaging, etc.), as well as the target intended for the first communication: head of department or end user.