The quick guide to hardware asset management

Business woman on phone

Even if you’ve never heard the phrase hardware asset management (or HAM), you have some form of HAM in place at your office. The moment you buy your first piece of business-related tech equipment, the hardware asset management lifecycle begins.

That’s because hardware asset management is just a more sophisticated way of labeling your process for buying, using, storing and retiring tech equipment.

A strategic approach to HAM can benefit your business, both financially and in terms of productivity. And there are also some cybersecurity implications—after all, when you dispose of an old computer, for example, making sure it’s wiped clean of all confidential internal data matters.

In this guide, we’re going to give you quick, high-level descriptions of the different stages of HAM, along with some suggestions for how you can better manage the hardware lifecycle for you company.

Hardware asset management stages

To get us started, let’s look at the different stages hardware goes through in the typical business-related lifecycle. For simplicity’s sake, we’re going to combine some of the stages.

You’ll find that some hardware lifecycle management plans are more detailed, but we’re focused on providing a quick overview here.

Research, request & procurement

Before you buy anything, research options based on your business needs, make a request for equipment, and initiate the buying process. Even if you’re at the top of your company’s org chart, it’s a good idea to stick to a formal procurement process.

Implementation & deployment

When the new equipment arrives, it has to be set up and put into use. If your company is small, that might mean just handing it off to the intended user. In larger organizations, new tech equipment will pass through the IT department before it’s issued.

Use & maintenance

At this stage, the equipment is used and maintained. There should absolutely be a regular maintenance plan to ensure everything remains up-to-date, secure and functional.

End of warranty

When equipment hits the end of the manufacturer’s guaranteed lifecycle, it’s a good idea to take stock of functionality and productivity. Is it still working? Still adequate for the intended use? Or is it time to retire it and replace it?

Retirement & disposal

When it’s time to retire a piece of equipment, you’ll want a documented process for wiping all data and properly disposing of the equipment. Most tech devices should not just be thrown in the trash.

Hardware asset management tips

Now that you’re familiar with the standard HAM stages, here are a few tips to help you better organize your company’s hardware asset management.

Maintain records

For the most complete HAM plan, you really should either partner with a managed IT services provider who includes asset management in their offers or invest in asset management tracking software.

If you’re not quite ready to do either of those things yet, be sure you keep track of the following 5 things at an absolute bare minimum:

  • A list of all company-owned hardware assets, including desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets and any other tech equipment
  • The employee currently in possession of the equipment
  • Current intended usage
  • The last date of maintenance
  • An up-to-date list of all warranty expiration dates

Buy for longevity

Everyone likes a bargain, but when shopping for technical equipment for your business, buy with longevity in mind. For example, if a slightly more well-equipped laptop will allow for an extra year of use before replacement, consider how much money that could save you across your whole organization.

Expect maintenance

While it’s nice to think that technology will just work the way it should all the time, that’s not practical or realistic. You should plan for maintenance—both regularly scheduled maintenance and unexpected maintenance.

That could mean having one or two laptops on hand as ready-to-go replacements, or it might be as simple as having a plan for what employees should do if their tech equipment keeps them from routine tasks for a while.

Never forget the importance of security

Cybersecurity matters, especially when disposing of old technology. Never give old or faulty equipment away or dispose of it without thoroughly wiping it of all company data first. The best way to ensure your equipment is clean before you retire it is to enlist the help of a pro.