Whether you’re an MSP managing dozens of accounts, or an IT pro working internally for an up-and-coming startup, IT asset management probably plays an important role in your day-to-day tasks.
To keep everything running smoothly, MSPs and IT departments benefit from having a precise inventory of all IT assets in order to plan for system expansion and asset retirement. This typically involves taking an inventory of all IT assets and ensuring that they are still within their service lives.
A successful RMM software should include IT asset management capabilities to help streamline all your tasks and to-dos.
Locate and document hardware
Whether the user of an RMM system is an MSP or an IT department starting out with new system management software, the first task in IT assert management is to locate and log all assets — both hardware and software.
Compiling the hardware asset inventory comes first. Remote monitoring and management software can’t search through stock room and look around the office shelves and windowsills for unused equipment, so that is a manual task. However, you should expect your RMM system to be able to track down all equipment that is active and connected to the network.
Network Discovery is the hallmark of a quality RMM suite. This function kicks in once the RMM software is first installed. It searches through the network and logs all encountered hardware. The result of this tracking process is a hardware inventory.
Useful information in the inventory for each piece of equipment listed include the make and model of the device, the device type/purpose and capacity data, such as CPU, memory and storage sizes.
A very useful feature to have in an RMM tool is a network topology mapper. This shows all of the discovered devices on a plan. This enables the administrator to see not just what equipment is on the network but where it is. Knowing the connections between devices helps with management tasks such as network capacity planning and traffic shaping.
Both the inventory and network topology map should be updated automatically whenever there are physical changes made to the network.
Locate and document software inventory
Server and endpoint monitors need to be able to scan each device and detect all of the software installed on it. This task has both security and legal benefits. Surprisingly, few IT departments keep track of how many copies of a particular piece of software they have installed. This can present a problem for license management.
Other software issues include the location of each instance so that updates and patches can be properly rolled out. The need to keep all software up to date is an important security requirement. Another security issue is the need to scan all corporate assets for unauthorized software. User-installed software and utilities could well be malicious. Even if the software is bona fide, running an unauthorized copy on company equipment could breach license rules and get the company in trouble for pirating.
Software license management
Once a full log of all installed software on the site has been assembled, the system manager needs to reconcile that list with the usage rights that the company has bought.
It could be that a piece of software has been overused and the company needs to buy more licenses. Another possibly is that the company has bought more licenses than it needs or might even have licenses for software that it doesn’t even use. So, another requirement of license management is the need for a licenses database.
Hardware and software procurement procedures
Keeping a list of all software and another list of all licenses helps companies to accurately provision all software. Similarly, the hardware inventory is a useful tool for asset amortization. Many companies fail to successful gauge the service life of their IT equipment and fall victim to the temptation of keeping devices in service longer than they should.
The benefit of hiring an MSP is the addition of a professional opinion over the reasonable service life of equipment. An MSP starting on a contract will first take an accurate inventory of all IT assets and adjust the provisions of the service agreement accordingly.
The tracking of equipment statuses will soon alert the MSP to any inadequacies in the client’s system and the difficulties caused by inferior and outdated equipment. The evidence produced by the reporting module of an RMM helps the MSP’s client managers to coach the client into replacing the outdated equipment to improve performance.
The ability to identify outdated equipment is a business opportunity for the MSP. Buy establishing affiliate agreements with hardware and software providers, the MSP can create a new income stream. Managing the procurement process is also an activity that can be charged for as an extra service that is outside of the initial service contract.
A good RMM system should include analytical tools. These operate on stored performance data and offer the MSP to provide professional services that go above and beyond a straightforward monitoring function. 4Even a stable company has an increased requirement for IT system capacity because of the accumulation of documents and operational data. Any new application or software added to the system creates a need for more capacity and eventually, the existing infrastructure will cease to provide room for expansion.
An MSP with a quality RMM will be able to work together with the client to plan for extra infrastructure needs. Capacity planning is a straightforward task with the right RMM tool.
A forecasting system within the RMM will enable you to project the increased infrastructure needs of regular operations and also give feedback to clients that plan to add on new users or activities.
The capacity planning support that an MSP can provide is an extra service that can be charged for separately to the regular service agreement. It also leads through to a provisioning activity, which is another opportunity for increased earnings.
IT asset management with an RMM
The right RMM simplifies and automates most of the monitoring and management tasks of IT asset management. It also presents opportunities from increased income by enabling the MSP to offer extra professional services related to IT asset management.