Choosing a tool for Asset Discovery & its best practices

Asset Discovery is an important part of IT Asset Management. There are several advantages in having an asset discovery tool. It helps in quickly creating a database of all the assets in your organization while ensuring visibility across the network. This tool also detects software anomalies in the assets and provides for better reporting and analysis. Overall, it is an essential tool in an IT agent’s toolkit. 

When planning an asset discovery process, it is important to understand the features needed for an effective solution. Here’s a list of questions to consider when choosing a tool for asset discovery. 


  1. How does the scanning work?  

The primary function of an asset discovery tool is to scan assets in your network. It is beneficial to know the technology used in the scanning probes and how frequently the tool scans your assets. Ideally, the ITAM discovery tool shouldn’t disrupt your day-to-day operations during a scan. It should also afford you the flexibility of scheduling scans depending on your organization’s downtime. Tools with significant traffic overheads tend to disrupt your regular network traffic causing operational delays. Understanding the technology and methods behind your discovery probes should be helpful in identifying the right tool. 


      2. Does it work well with your other applications? 

Monitoring the assets in your organization is just one of the many jobs earmarked for the IT team. It is therefore only logical to use applications that work well with your current setup. This could be easily achieved if your asset discovery tool has an integration feature. Or better yet if it comes as an add-on to your already existing ITAM suite, your choice is a no-brainer. The integration feature also gives you the option to verify your data and also analyse it. A third-party integration with a data analysis tool can help achieve that goal. 


      3. How can you use the database? 

Every asset tool will maintain a record of the assets in your organization. That data is very critical and could come in handy when dealing with a major network issue. Your discovery tool should afford you the flexibility of using the data for maximum gain. Check on the different metrics and dimensions that your asset tool collects. Also, look at the important ways in which that data can be exported. Data security is an imperative part of any IT operation and your tool must have the features that follow the industry best practices. 


      4. What is the scope of discovery? 

The scope of your asset discovery tool is another important attribute. Does your asset tool work only on isolated environments like a desktop or can it be used across your office network? What are the types of devices that your tool can detect (laptop, Mobiles, Printers etc)? Does your tool support such a varied network? Answers to these questions are the key to understanding the scope of your asset discovery tool.If you are a much larger organization spread across geographies, your tool should work the same in all your office spaces. 


      5. Is there a robust reporting feature? 

When conducting an IT audit across your organization, your data needs to be in a format that is understood by all the stakeholders. Having a reporting feature in your ITAM tool is definitely a weight of your shoulders. Not only is it useful for impressing your higher-ups, that data reporting feature can give you a bird’s-eye view of how things work at a glance. This can save you time and also provides a quick turnaround time in case of a setback. 


Asset Discovery Best Practices

We have looked at the ideal features to look for when considering an IT asset discovery tool. It is now important to know the best practices of using such a tool. Here’s a quick rundown of the tips and tricks you need to make the best use of your shiny new tool.  


      1. Create a discovery SOP 

After setting up an IT discovery tool, it is useful to also set in place an asset discovery strategy. This will include identifying all the important stakeholders in the process and defining each person’s role. Putting together a standard operating procedure, by involving everyone in the team, will ensure a smooth execution. Documenting the process into a guide is a sure-shot way of implementing it. Having your team providing feedback and incorporating them is a big way to get a buy-in from your team. 


      2. Identify the assets to be scanned 

A big part of your ITAM discovery process should be to explicitly define the assets to be scanned by your tool. It’s recommended to have a flexible asset strategy. This allows you to start small with the more obvious devices like office laptops, mobiles, etc. More devices can always be added in due time after consulting with the necessary stakeholders. In fact, it will be good practice to survey the number of managed devices at periodic intervals throughout the year.


      3. Set an asset mapping strategy 

Once your assets are in your database, you will need to think of an asset mapping strategy. This will add value to the information your discovery tool gathers. For example, an asset that is mapped to a unique owner with a known location and department would make much more sense to an IT agent rather than a dump of all the assets with their software and hardware info. This will come in handy when running an audit to check faulty devices or to remove old devices entirely from the network. 


      4. Frequently monitor network usage

Cataloging your assets in place and mapping them is a good first step in the asset discovery process, The next step will be to monitor their usage. A good asset discovery tool will gather network critical information like the number of devices connected? How often do devices use your network?, what ports do they use? get the idea. This type of regular network monitoring you can answer most of your network related queries just by consulting your asset discovery tool. It is also important to ensure this practice permeates throughout your team. 


      5. Conduct periodic audits 

The emphasis on conducting IT audits in your organization cannot be overstated. Without an audit to check up on your assets and your network performance, all the above listed steps would be for naught. An audit doesn’t have to be a complicated process. The roles have already been defined when putting in place an IT asset strategy. All that is needed is a pedantic drive to execute the necessary steps in the process. The audit can also be thought of as a retrospective and can help refine your asset strategy even further. 

Freshservice is a robust ITSM tool that can add value to your asset discovery process. With features like periodic scans, in-built discovery probes and a mobile app, it is a one-stop shop for all your IT related needs. Check out our asset discovery features here.