Where is it? What is it? How did it get here?
One of the key responsibilities of any IT firm is to keep up to date records on the many aspects of the systems under their control. If you have been around long enough you have probably used handwritten notebooks, excel spreadsheets and even fancy network diagrams. You have probably also felt the pain of not writing down critical information and having to wipe and rebuild an entire router from scratch because you lost or could not remember the password. Now there are lots of information gathering systems that are multi-user friendly. My personal favorite is Evernote. I can type in information, snap a picture, forward an email attachment or record a voice note and almost instantly have that information available on my PC, phone, tablet and shared to other users. The problem is that as great as Evernote is at capturing information, it does not use that data to enhance my work flow or ticketing process.
How to keep track
The asset tracking function of your PSA was made for this type of information. Keeping track of asset information in your PSA accomplishes the following:
- Keeps information by client or site so that it can be searched and filtered easily.
- Allows you to add assets to tickets so that a history of issues or configuration changes can be kept for an asset.
- In some cases allows you to open a remote control connection to device from a ticket.
- Provides a centralized, password-protected repository for asset information.
In managed services it is absolutely critical to your profitability to know how many tickets are being raised and how much time is consumed per device. These are the indicators you need to let customers know when it is time to replace devices or put the aging devices on a per hour contract. This is where assigning assets to tickets is crucial. Ideally, your remote management system will automatically add the device asset to any tickets raised from monitoring alerts. MAX ServiceDesk takes this one step further and creates a Take Control button inside the ticket window that allows one-click access to the server or workstation that the ticket relates to.
The other important feature of asset management is keeping a record of the configuration and subsequent changes to a device. Having a history of changes of a device provides accountability and historical data for the device. Having this information at their finger tips is vital to your technicians doing their jobs quickly and efficiently. Keeping information as simple as where a device is located..."wired print server located behind the copier in the printer room" can save sometimes hours of time spent looking for devices that were not properly documented. Keeping non-device information as assets can also be helpful. Account information for cloud services, website/domain configuration settings and access credentials. When I had my MSP we had lots of customers using hosted email at website hosting providers. Very often we had nothing to do with setting up or managing those accounts but sure enough we were their first call when email went down. It taught us very quickly to insist on documenting, in full, those accounts and credentials. If you are responsible for it you have to have access to it. As we continue to evolve from MSP 1.0 into MSP 2.0 and filling that role of virtual CIO we must be aware of the role and responsibility of fully documenting the entire IT environment of our clients.