There’s no shortage of reasons IT departments need an IT asset management system. After all, IT professionals are often tasked with tracking every little thing—from laptop to smartphone to software licenses to HDMI cables—that the rest of their coworkers need to get their jobs done.
Maybe you work for a massive advertising agency with offices all over the world. Or perhaps you work for a municipal government office, with just a few offices across a town. Either way, one thing’s for sure: every information technology asset needs to be tracked across the business.
Most likely, your IT asset management system will include both hardware asset management and software asset management. From printer ink to Photoshop licenses, your team needs to track each and every access across the organization for its entire life cycle.
And let’s be honest—that’s not simple or easy. That’s why, in this article, we’ll pinpoint ten key reasons why your department needs to get serious about IT asset management—and how the right asset tracking app can make sure your team stays organized for good.
Laptops, desktops, tablets. Smartphones, digital cameras, scanners. Cords, cables, and docking stations. Hardware and software. If there’s one thing IT departments have, it’s assets. And keeping track of all this stuff is no easy feat. That’s why many IT departments use an exhaustive inventory list to keep track of every little asset they’re responsible for.
An inventory list is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a laundry list of what your company owns (hardware and software), plus all the little details, too. That means you’ll track more than just where a laptop is and what it’s called—or how many people have used specific software licenses. You’ll also make a note of the manufacturer, the value, the condition, the serial number, when the warranty expires, and so much more.
Traditionally, asset managers have tracked this inventory on a sheet of paper or a spreadsheet. And in recent years, on collaborative platforms like Google Sheets. But these styles of inventory lists have significant drawbacks.
Handwritten inventory lists take forever to manage, can easily be lost or damaged, and just aren’t sustainable. If your IT department stocks more than a handful of things, or needs to track assets across multiple locations, you’ll outgrow this method—and fast.
Our rule of thumb: if your company has more than a couple of dozen assets—or more than a few employees—you’re almost certainly too big a business to be tracking assets on a sheet of paper (or a glorified Word document.) Instead, consider upgrading to a spreadsheet—or use a free app like Sortly to track your assets. That way, as your business continues to scale, your asset tracking system can grow with you.
While maintaining an inventory list on a spreadsheet is better, it’s still not the perfect place to track all your assets. That’s because inventory spreadsheets are prone to human error. Every time you have to transfer information to your spreadsheet, you risk jumbling cells or improperly entering data. And when items have similar names or long serial numbers, these mistakes become more and more likely.
So, while using Excel to track inventory is definitely a step up from a sheet of paper, there are still way too many risks to taking inventory on a spreadsheet. Besides, if you’re tracking assets across multiple locations, there’s virtually no way a spreadsheet can really show you what you’ve got and where it is. To accurately understand assets across the business, you’ll need to track software and hardware using software or an app.
So, what’s the best way to manage an inventory list of all your assets? For most companies, best practices are to use an IT asset management app. The right IT asset management software can help you track every last detail that matters to you—in a way that works for your business. Plus, you can add images, attachments, notes, QR codes, barcodes, and more—all of which are virtually impossible using paper or a spreadsheet.
One of the benefits of IT asset management software is that your software and hardware asset lists are displayed on your dashboard… And that dashboard is searchable, a cinch to update, easy to export, and securely synced to the cloud. And, thanks to powerful automation features, this asset list will save you time, stress, and all the headache that comes with human error.
Now that you know why tracking your assets on an inventory list is so important, let’s touch on two of the critical details you can track on that list: those assets’ value and condition. Almost every IT department needs to track value and condition through the asset lifecycle.
An asset’s value reflects how much that asset is worth at any given time. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always mean the price you paid for it—although you can track that on an app like Sortly, too.
An asset’s condition reflects, well, how you would describe the item if you were listing it for sale. If you were evaluating a laptop’s condition, for example, you would consider the laptop’s appearance, how well it worked, and so on. Then, you’d give it a rating, like perfect, fair, or poor.
A genuine financial inventory incorporates IT assets across every location. And while that’s neither simple nor easy, the right software can really help. Plus, knowing the value and condition of your assets throughout the asset lifecycle is essential for a variety of super-important inventory tasks, like:
If you’ve got information about how much your assets are worth—and what condition they’re in—at your fingertips, you can save your company tons of time and money. You might even be able to speed up tedious inventory audits—or even bypass them altogether.
And when it comes time to prepare for tax filings, you’ll always have up-to-date information about what you’ve got, where it’s at, and what it’s worth.
Creating a set of business practices around tracking units with the organization is crucial for the IT asset management process. Without a set of rules about how to track assets and their condition and value changes, there’s really no way to satisfy corporate compliance—or your very pushy accountant.
We briefly mentioned that the right automation features could save you tons of time and stress—and there’s no better example of that than barcode and QR codes. Barcodes and QR codes are a crucial part of efficient, errorless IT asset management.
Barcodes are a unique cluster of black and white lines that, when read by a barcode scanner, reveal information like an item’s SKU—plus any other details entered by the asset manager. Barcodes pop up a lot in retail stores and are also used in healthcare settings and—you guessed it—tons of IT departments.
QR codes are like barcodes’ more evolved, hipper cousin. Short for “Quick Response” code, barcodes are two-dimensional images that, when scanned, can tell you a ton of information about an asset. (Way more than a barcode, really. They hold more data.) You’ve probably seen QR codes everywhere—especially since the COVID-19 pandemic when everything from restaurant menus to daycare centers went “paperless.”
IT asset management apps like Sortly allow you to connect the information about your assets with their corresponding barcoded or QR codes. And, since you can use your smartphone or tablet as a barcode or QR code scanner, this can save you an enormous amount of time.
Just think. Whenever you need to send a wireless keyboard to Tampa or a laser print to Tuscon, you can use your phone (or a Bluetooth scanner, if you prefer) to check the item in and out. In the Sortly app, when you scan an item, you’ll instantly pull up that item’s information. From there, you can drag it to a new folder, update information about where it’s going, quickly check its value or more.
Related: How do I barcode my inventory?
When your IT department needs to lend assets to an employee, client, or customer, we bet it’s not always “just one thing.” In fact, many IT departments frequently “bundle” a handful of items together. For example, a new employee in a sales job could receive a whole bunch of things: a laptop, a docking station, two monitors, a wireless keyboard and mouse, a printer, and a bunch of cords.
Chances are, each of these items has its own name and place in your inventory list. But, since you so often send these items together, you’ll want an IT asset management system that allows you to bundle all this stuff into one item. By bundling inventory items that are stored, moved, and collected together, you can save your department tons of time and stress.
When you send out the whole bundle to that new hire, you can simply scan the barcode or QR code once, move the bundle to the “out” folder—or whatever system works for you—and then be done with it.
But how exactly do you scan a bundle in or out? With custom-generated barcodes and QR codes for your inventory and assets. Modern IT asset management software like Sortly makes it easy to create customized barcodes and QR codes for all your unlabeled or bundled stock.
When you add an item or view it in your inventory, you’ll have the opportunity to create that customized barcode or QR code right in the Sortly app. Once you do, you can print it on a label—using a basic printer that you probably already own—and standard label paper from manufacturers like Avery.
Plus, you’ll be able to customize that label, too. You can pick its shape, size, how much information appears on it, and even slap your company’s logo on it. And, of course, that customized barcode or QR code will be featured prominently, so you and the rest of your team can take advantage of that in-app scanner.
Suddenly, that hard-to-reach box isn’t so much of a problem. Just aim your phone’s camera, scan the label, and find out what’s inside. No stepstool necessary.
One of the main problems with pen-and-paper or spreadsheet asset management is that it’s so hard to collaborate using these asset management systems. After all, how many employees can share a piece of paper, anyway?
Fortunately, the best IT asset management software is designed for teams. In an asset tracking app like Sortly, all of your employees can work together to track and manage your IT assets. Simply create an account for each user, log them in on their phone, tablet, or computer, and voila: they’re ready to track assets, too.
Best of all, department heads (or whoever’s in charge) can decide just how much access each employee has, and to what. Maybe you have an administrator on your team who simply needs read-only access. Or perhaps you’ve got a few people who need full permissions to do everything on an administrative level. Customizing permissions is a breeze in Sortly, so you’ll always have a say in who can see, do, and what.
This, of course, includes hiding things like value and price or blocking everybody but a select few from seeing restricted or confidential assets. If you work in a big department or have some pretty valuable stuff, deciding what inventory information to obscure can be necessary for security and compliance.
Another benefit of using asset management software to track your IT assets? You’ll automatically get a super-detailed paper trail of changes to each and every asset you manage. That means that you’ll know who had that laptop when, where, and what condition it was in when it was checked in and out.
Item histories are super helpful in preventing inventory loss and understanding how assets move through your business. It can also help you understand trends in asset usage, which can help you make better decisions about purchases in the future.
Here’s an example. Suppose you notice that keyboards and mice tend to be lent out indefinitely—and when they do come back—they’re virtually unusable. In that case, you’ll know to includes purchasing several dozen new sets of these assets every fiscal year.
Now, extrapolate that toward every IT asset in your inventory. You’ll start to understand what comes and goes in a-okay shape and what’s basically gone for good the minute it’s checked out of your storage closet.
Another great benefit of item histories: understanding damage. When you’re lending out hundreds of thousands of dollars of assets every year, it’s important to have a clear understanding of how and why inventory breaks. Differentiating normal wear-and-tear from a break can help your business understand what’s expected—and what was just a catastrophic coffee spill.
And item histories can be helpful when your business needs to keep an eye on software licenses, too. With tools that help you investigate asset history, you’ll always be able to figure out who (or what devices) are using a software license at any given time.
One significant benefit to creating an IT asset management system that’s totally digital? Robust, easy-to-use reporting. With the right asset management software, everybody on your team can get the information they need about every asset within the company.
For example, if the service desk needs to remind everybody who’s using certain software to run a system update, they can efficiently run a report to see who’s using a license at the moment. The same goes for corporate compliance. If the head of the financial department wants to know just how much cash is tied up in hardware at any given moment, a quick report can tell them everything they need to know.
Plus, with an asset tracking app like Sortly, reports are a cinch to customize—and they look great, too. Add pictures, tons of critical details, and decide whether you’d like to export them as PDFs or CSVs.
A software license can expire. And a laptop’s warranty always ends at some point. And letting these dates come and go can cause your company time, money, and quite the headache. Luckily, the right IT asset management system offers you completely customizable alerts that notify you as important dates approach—or as inventory or stock dwindles.
You (or the right person) can get notified when:
Setting up alerts in notifications in Sortly is simple. All you have to do is head to the asset’s profile and enter the relevant information. When does the asset expire? When does it fall out of warranty? What is the minimum amount of this asset my company needs to have on hand at all times?
You can also decide who’s notified and how. Enter email addresses for the registered users of Sortly, and they’ll get alerts and reminders either by email, in-app notification, or both. You can also customize when and how frequently these alerts and reminders are dispatched.
We’ve already talked a little about how different IT asset management software features—like barcode and QR code scanning, team access, custom permissions, and customizable reporting—can all help your company minimize inventory loss.
And it’s true. By creating a set of business practices that incorporates asset management, your company won’t just run more smoothly—it’ll also take asset tracking way more seriously. By being super clear about your expectations for both hardware and software asset management, your employees are that much more likely to follow the rules.
So take it seriously—schedule training sessions. Post the best practices in the storage rooms and around the workspace. Train every employee (and retrain old ones) about asset lifecycle management. How higher-ups within the organization talk about asset management affects how all employees think about asset management processes.
So, whether your IT team is helping a Houston-based law firm or a Vancouver-based translation agency, the right asset management strategy is absolutely essential. And being vocal, clear, and particular about if from day one is vital. Show the rest of your IT team you’re serious about staying organized, and they’ll get serious about it, too.
Sortly is modern, intuitive asset management software that makes tracking anything and everything—from docking stations to Microsoft Office licenses—a piece of cake. Businesses of all shapes and sizes turn to Sortly to get organized, for good—at a price that actually makes sense.
The app—which works seamlessly on phones, tablets, and computers—is designed for everybody, not just computer-savvy people. That means everyone on your team can get the hang of the asset tracking app in just a few minutes. (But if you need help and support, we’ve got plenty of that for you, too. Webinars, tons of support articles, and a support desk that’s always happy to hear from you.)
Loaded with powerful features and infinitely customizable, Sortly makes it easy to:
Curious about whether Sortly could be right for your IT department? Why not give it a try today—absolutely free.