Laptops, monitors, and other devices went home with employees months ago, and your organization may have had to support other remote tech needs along the way. An IT association says asset management is necessary now, before workers return to the office.
Whether or not you think the chatter about reopening is premature for your own organization, there will be a time in the relatively near future when office life will resume for many associations.
And when that happens, there will be a lot of questions to answer on the path back to normalcy. Many of them will start with the IT department, so IT executives need to be thinking about what’s going to happen after offices open once again.
The International Association of IT Asset Managers is raising some of those issues now. For example, organizations could be facing “nightmare data risks” if equipment isn’t being used properly at home, IAITAM says, and equipment that was taken home from the office or was purchased for remote work will need to be managed when it comes back to the workplace. Some ways the latter issue might play out in your own organization:
Extra equipment loaned out. We’re well into the BYOD era of mobile device ownership, but your employees nonetheless likely had to bring some office equipment home to do their job—laptops, tablets, keyboards, monitors, printers, and the like. You’ll need a way to track that it came back.
New equipment purchased. Some of your employees may have needed to buy new hardware to do their job remotely and be reimbursed for it. Or perhaps your IT department made those purchases and had them delivered to employees’ homes. This might mean cameras, webcams, headsets, microphones, and other types of equipment you might not have had to buy in bulk previously.
Added infrastructure. You’ll need to track all those licenses for your virtual private networks and collaboration tools. Also, the purchase of additional cloud infrastructure may not be needed in a year, so you will need to make sure you wind down those extra servers.
Unauthorized software brought in. And then there are the unwanted guests hiding on your corporate laptops. If you’re running a tight ship, you might be able to prevent employees from putting their own software on their devices, but that’s harder to control when your staff is working remotely. You’ll have some additional data safety concerns as a result.
IAITAM is recommending that IT executives take steps to track all these digital assets now, says Dr. Barbara Rembiesa, the president and CEO of the association.
“Organizations without a plan are going to experience as painful a transition back into the office as they had transitioning out,” she said in a recent news release. “Having a mature IT asset management program ensures that these devices are properly tracked, managed, and disposed of, as needed.”
IAITAM recommends asset tracking, explaining the process to remote employees, and figuring out what to do with all those extra webcams your organization had to buy. Expect to have some redundancy. The association suggests that “charity donations and resale are all better options financially than simply dumping the excess hardware.”
Of course, you may want to keep at least some of this additional equipment around. Many commentators believe that some offices will never go back to a traditional experience (here’s one; here’s another), and if that plays out, you may have an ongoing need for more remote equipment in general.
But whether you end up throwing out a bunch of equipment or chalk it up to the cost of doing business in 2020, you should use the time before the office reopens to assess what you have.
You don’t want any unnecessary headaches or surprises when your office opens back up—whenever that is.