The DIY Hardware Inventory – A Roadmap for Failure…yep, Failure!

By Jean M. Friestad, Asset Administrator


Your company needs a hardware inventory done, but your company is also budget-minded. How can this be done without spending thousands of dollars?  Answer: The Do-It-Yourself Hardware Inventory.

Fine, so it’s decided you’re going to tackle this inventory yourself.  Here are a few hints to assure failure at this daunting task.

Stupid Step 1

First, don’t plan!  Planning only takes time and attention away from the task at hand.  You simply don’t need to know how many employees there are and approximately how many assets are involved.  By all means, don’t decide exactly what types of assets you are going to inventory.  That just muddies the waters and wastes valuable time.  If you are inventorying equipment that is not readily obvious at each person’s workstation, be sure not to ask the user if they have such equipment (like iPads or iPhones).  Eschew any thought of getting floor plans from facilities, because that might give you an idea where your hardware assets might be hiding.  Also, don’t consider how much help you’ll need to meet any deadline you may have.  The calculation that two-person teams that scan approximately 50 assets per hour in a fairly compact working environment is an unnecessary for meeting deadlines.

Stupid Step 2

Second, don’t communicate!  A well-written and reasoned e-mail to alert employees that there is an inventory happening is a waste of time.  The people who are using your company’s hardware wouldn’t possibly need to be aware of what you want when you come to their workstation.  Managers, especially, prefer to be kept in the dark about these things.  Like they say, ignorance is bliss.  And, most importantly, if you do decide (against my advice) to write a communication, be sure to send it to the entire company months in advance so everyone will have completely forgotten the salient points by the time you reach their workstation.

Stupid Step 3

Third, don’t use the appropriate equipment!  Investing in a good wireless Bluetooth scanner to pair with a laptop for hardware inventory is an unnecessary expense.  (And be sure to relieve your desktop support team of the responsibility of pairing the scanner to the laptop correctly (clearly, a waste of time).  Instead, have one person read off the serial numbers and asset tags while the other person types them into your tracking spreadsheet by hand to increase the possibility of error.  Taking a magnifying glass on your hardware inventory excursions to the workplace floor is just an extra thing to keep track of.  The hardware manufacturers print the serial numbers large enough for the average person to see at a distance of ten or more feet.  And do not take asset tags with you when you do your inventory.  Marking equipment that has sneaked past the asset tagging process once simply doesn’t need to be documented.

Stupid Step 4

Fourth, don’t be explicit with your inventory documentation!  When you are out scanning (against my advice) the hardware serial numbers and asset tags, be sure to use a spreadsheet that only contains serial number and asset tag columns.  No need to keep track of the make and model of the equipment, much less who is using the equipment to enrich or verify the data in your asset repository.

Stupid Step 5

Fifth, don’t keep track of the stragglers!  When you inventory, there will undoubtedly be individuals who are away from their desk at the time you go by.  Don’t make any notes of these missing individuals so you can circle back and catch them, especially if they have taken their laptop away from their workstation.  It is important to be as haphazard as possible with your effort.

Stupid Step 6

And finally, don’t update your asset repository immediately . . . or ever!  Updating your asset repository with fresh, validated information is a complete waste of time.  It is much easier to have two data sources (your asset repository and your inventory spreadsheet) to track your assets.

If you follow these simple suggestions, your hardware inventory is sure to be a smashing failure!

About Jean Friestad

Jean Friestad is the Software Asset Manager for Wells Fargo