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IT Asset Discovery: 8 Best Practices & Tools (Plus Benefits of Using Them)


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The constantly evolving landscape and increasing consequence of enterprise IT systems in business has brought forth a range of new processes and practices.

One that has lately come into prominence, is IT asset discovery, which involves the process of identifying and cataloging hardware, software, and networking resources that make up a company’s tech infrastructure.

From discovering potential vulnerabilities across the infrastructure to identifying opportunities for cost and resource optimization, IT asset discovery is a crucial task.

In this article, we take a deep dive into the various tools, benefits, and best practices pertaining to this up-and-coming science of asset discovery, which helps organizations maintain the reigns of their burgeoning IT landscape.

1. Establish A Comprehensive Inventory

The first step in effective IT asset discovery is creating a comprehensive inventory of all assets within the organization.

This inventory should include details such as hardware specifications, software versions, licenses, network devices, and their relationships. Regularly update this inventory to reflect changes in the IT environment.

2. Utilize Automated Discovery Tools 

Manual asset discovery can be time-consuming and prone to errors. Leveraging automated discovery tools is essential to streamline the process.

Tools like Lansweeper, ManageEngine AssetExplorer, and Snipe-IT are designed to scan networks and collect data on connected devices, software installations, and system configurations. These tools provide accurate and real-time insights into the IT asset landscape.

Not only do these tools make the overall process of asset discovery more efficient, but they also improve accuracy by reducing the risks of errors and omissions that come with the manual process. Most leading IT asset discovery tools now feature extensive automation to aid with the same. 

3. Implement Network Scanning

Network scanning tools like Nmap and OpenVAS can help identify devices connected to the network and gather information about their operating systems, open ports, and vulnerabilities. 

These tools assist in identifying unauthorized or unmanaged devices, enabling organizations to take appropriate action to secure their networks. This is indispensable at large organizations with multiple nodes and endpoints, often catering to tens of thousands of employees and their devices.

4. Deploy Agent-Based Solutions 

Agent-based asset discovery tools install lightweight software agents on individual devices to gather information.

These agents continuously monitor and report data such as hardware configurations, installed software, and usage statistics.

Tools like SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager), PDQ Inventory, and Kaseya VSA simplify asset tracking, reduce manual effort, and enhance overall accuracy.

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5. Leverage Software Asset Management (SAM)

Software licenses can be complex to manage, and non-compliance can lead to legal and financial consequences.

SAM solutions like Flexera and Snow License Manager automate the discovery and tracking of software installations, usage, and license entitlements. By optimizing software licenses, organizations can reduce costs and ensure compliance.

6. Implement Barcode & RFID Tracking 

Physical assets such as laptops, servers, and other hardware components can be easily tracked using barcode or radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology.

By assigning unique identifiers to assets and scanning them with handheld devices, organizations can maintain an accurate record of their physical assets, streamline inventory audits, and prevent loss or theft.

Barcoding and RFID tracking of assets is a recommended practice when it comes to internal controls and the audit of fixed assets. By implementing these technologies, and adopting the necessary processes to go with them, companies can eliminate substantial losses that can be attributed to theft and misuse.

7. Integrate IT Service Management (ITSM) Systems

Integrating IT asset discovery tools with ITSM systems, such as ServiceNow and JIRA, allows for seamless ticketing, incident management, and change control.

This integration ensures that asset data is up to date and readily available during IT service operations, improving efficiency and reducing downtime.

8. Regularly Audit & Reconcile Data

Consistent auditing and data reconciliation is vital to maintaining the accuracy and reliability of the asset inventory.

Periodic audits help identify discrepancies between the recorded and actual assets, enabling organizations to take corrective actions. This practice ensures that the inventory remains up-to-date and trustworthy.

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Benefits of IT Asset Discovery

Implementing best practices and utilizing asset discovery tools can bring several benefits to organizations,

Improved Security: Identifying and monitoring assets helps organizations detect and respond to security vulnerabilities promptly, reducing the risk of data breaches and cyberattacks.

Cost Optimization: Effective asset discovery enables organizations to optimize hardware and software usage, eliminate duplicate licenses, and negotiate better contract terms, resulting in significant cost savings.

Compliance & Risk Management: It helps ensure compliance with software licenses, industry regulations, and internal policies. It minimizes legal and financial risks associated with non-compliance.

Enhanced Productivity: Organizations can save time and effort by automating inventory updates, reducing manual tasks, and enabling IT teams to focus on strategic initiatives rather than administrative work.

Accurate Planning & Decision-making: A comprehensive asset inventory provides organizations with a clear view of their IT landscape, facilitating informed decision-making, capacity planning, and technology refresh cycles.

Final Words

IT asset discovery remains a crucial function for organizations that rely on IT systems for their operations and management. Given the sheer complexity involved in today’s systems, a well-thought-out, clearly defined system is vital for the smooth functioning of different systems.

The above-mentioned best practices are among the growing body of knowledge that has since developed around this science in recent years. There is a lot taking place in this niche, with plenty of new systems, practices, and frameworks coming to the fore each passing year.

This, however, should form a boilerplate template for most organizations to get started with, before they consider building on it, in order to accommodate increased sophistication and requirements.

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