Best practices for assigning IT assets to employees.


IT Asset Management has two deliverables.

1) IT Cost Optimisation and
2) IT Inventory Management.

Employee onboarding or offboarding is a great example of both; IT cost optimisation and IT Inventory Management.

69 per cent of employees stay longer in a company with great onboarding experience. Opening up significant cost saving avenue. Because on average companies lose between 50 and 60 per cent of an employee’s salary to hire a new person.

Offboarding has a similar impact on IT operations and costs. Research suggests 89 per cent of ex-employees have access to at least one application from a former employer. Out of those, 45 per cent reported having access to confidential data.

To help you correct such inefficiencies and control risks, this article will cover the following:

  1. Understanding the basic principles of assigning IT assets.
  2. Establishing a process for assigning assets.
  3. Automating the asset assignment process.
  4. Integration between ITAM and HR systems.

#1 Basic principles of assigning IT assets.

The process for assigning IT assets is part of the wider IT provisioning and asset management system. To understand the asset allocation process, we need to know how it interrelates with other IT processes.

IT asset lifecycle management.

Assigning assets to employees sits within IT asset lifecycle. It has the following structure.
1. Planning and ordering of new assets
2. Allocation of available assets. It tends to have a cyclical nature. Because IT assets are assigned and reassigned. From one employee to another depending on business circumstances. Available assets can either be:
a. Assigned
b. Unassigned
c. In repair (for hardware)
3. Retiring and disposal. These assets are nearing their end of life. Triggering the planning and ordering process.

Software and Hardware Asset Management (SAM and HAM) tools can help you administer your assets’ lifecycle. They keep track of their allocation statuses.

SAM and HAM applications notify you of any expiring licences, end-of-life dates and warranty details. Also, they generate reports for each IT assets’ status. Helping you to optimise your IT estate.

While software and hardware are both considered IT assets. They need different treatment. Because of their nonphysical and physical nature. To correctly report on both types of assets. You must measure them with different set of indexes and metrics. To do so, each one needs specialised software or, at least, dedicated functionality.

Tracking software assets using SAM.

Software is a nonphysical asset. They can be cloud-based or on-premise application. Regardless of the type, they can be remotely assigned to employees. You just need an available software license to be associated to an employee’s account or a host machine.

IT can claim back licenses from previous employees or those who no longer need access. As such, old licenses can be reassigned to new employees.

Challenges of assigning software assets.

Hardware is limited to the number of existing physical entities. Whereas software relies on licenses to dictate the number of available assets. As this is not a tangible quality, licenses can easily be mismanaged by IT administrators.

They can either stray out of the vendor’s compliance terms or over-license in fear of being audited. Both scenarios have an unnecessary cost associated with them.

Software Asset Management software helps IT teams get a clear picture of their license usage and compliance. Enabling IT teams to optimally assign assets to employees as the business requires.

License camping and hogging is also a source of inefficient use of software assets. It can be prevented by promoting better collaboration between IT and the employees. As well as employing software usage monitoring tools.

Tracking hardware assets using HAM.

Assigning hardware assets require a more complex process due to their physical nature. Following information must be available before assigning hardware to employees:

  • Type of asset – such as laptop, mobile phone, router, etc.
  • Asset vendor, model and specifications.
  • Location.
  • Warranty details.
  • Date of procurement and end-of-life date.
  • The physical aspect of assigning a hardware asset. For example;handing an employee their new laptop cannot be automated. Making such assets prone to mismanagement.

Challenges of assigning hardware assets.

Physical assets are prone to wear, damage and misuse. Hardware assets depreciate. They also include operational and maintenance costs.

Poor reassignment and offboarding processes are the key reasons for losing hardware assets. As per recent research, The Billion Dollar Lost Laptop Problem. On average 263 laptops were lost per organisation over 12 months.

#2 Establishing asset assigning processes.

To overcome the above challenges. IT asset managers need to establish rigorous processes for IT provisioning and asset assignment. These processes need to cover both new and existing employees and assets.

Assigning existing assets to new employees.

Firstly, IT asset managers need to consolidate any disparate processes. Using a standard and simple process is impactful.

The IT provisioning needs to be reviewed from the ordering of new assets to the disposal of old ones. Including the process for assigning and reassigning assets to employees.

The next step is to integrate your onboarding or offboarding processes with your asset management system.

Lastly, the configure rules for onboarding and offboarding processes. For example; rules based on location, seniority, department or function.

For onboarding, this would include:

  • Allocating correct hardware based on the level of seniority and role. For example, higher-end laptops are generally allocated to employees in technical roles or senior managers.
  • Granting access to the correct software based on the role. For example, granting access to Adobe Photoshop for people in the design teams.
  • Setting up an organisational email account.

For offboarding:

  • Revoking all software access on the day the employee offboards.
  • Disabling the organisation email account if the employee leaves the company.
  • Setting the date for the employee to return all hardware equipment.
  • Reimaging and resetting any hardware assets to prepare them for reassignment.

Assigning new assets for existing employees.

In the case where new IT assets are bought, such as deploying a new application or upgrading a set of laptops. The processes should look at assigning the new assets as swiftly and accurately as possible.
Deploying a new application:

  • Identify all the teams which will require the new application.
  • Identify the roles and levels of seniority which require access.
  • Ensure the number of licenses available will cover all the employees.
  • Communicate with the affected employees about the change.
  • Grant access to all members of the identified teams.
  • If required, revoke access to the old application.
  • Ensure the ITAM tool is adequately updated.

Assigning new hardware assets:

  • Identify employees who will receive the new assets.
  • Communicate with the affected employees about the change.
  • Claim back employees’ old asset and reassign or dispose of them.
  • Track the location of each individual asset. Especially mobile ones such as laptops and smartphones.
  • Ensure the ITAM tool is adequately updated.

#3 Automation using ITAM tools.

Especially when dealing with large numbers of queries. Such as large recruitment events or company-wide deployment of new software. IT managers can commit errors and spend a long time manually assigning assets.

A modern IT asset management tool with automation features speeds-up the assigning process. And lowers the rate of errors.

If you have a well-defined process for assigning software then you can simply translate those steps in the ITAM tool. For example, if a new salesperson joins, the automation tool can reserve a license for your CRM software.

The license can then be assigned on the day when the employee officially starts their new role. This will not require manual request from the new joinee as well as manual access from the IT team.

An up to date asset management tool with employee information can look up the database of available IT Inventory and make informed decisions. Your IT asset management tool already has a detailed picture of your whole estate.

An up to date ITAM tool decreases the likelihood of assets remaining unused.

The automation process can be taken a step further, where the ITAM tool can check for assignment status of each asset. Triggering actions based on threshold levels.

#4 HR and IT system compatibility.

The allocation of assets is the intersection between the IT and HR processes. This is especially true in the context of employee onboarding and offboarding.

HR management tools contain all employee-related information. Some tools store information about assigned goods which go beyond IT assets, such as company cars.

As most tools are dedicated for HR management. They do not provide visibility over the IT estate. This means no information about license compliance and provisioning of new assets. There is no ability to grant or revoke access to applications.

Thankfully, HR tools have exporting capabilities. Which consolidate employee information into widely used formats such as spreadsheets.

Read more: Why Good Spreadsheets Make Bad IT Asset Management Strategies

Likewise, ITAM tools can make use of such spreadsheets. They can batch input employee information and trigger any automated process. The whole process can be scripted. Avoiding any manual exporting and importing of files.