Managing inventory when working remotely

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

One of the first things many organizations had to tackle when moving remote was knowing who had what technology and how to support them if they could not physically interact with the device or employee.
I started by building a core inventory (I drove into NYC one day for about 45 minutes to load up about four boxes with cables, chargers, adapters, iPads, and laptops). As we worked through the first weeks, we assessed what we had (a Google Sheet with the items, serial number, status, and notes was created and shared) and began considering what we needed to order and where we could store and stage the technology and peripherals.
Living in “the burbs” with a home and some space (vs. an NYC apartment), I became the endpoint for devices and technology. We ordered some shipping materials, and I frequented the local UPS store weekly with various shipments of adapters, cables, or replacement tech for damaged equipment.
One key to the process was leveraging the tools we had in place before the pandemic shut down NYC. We have been using Oomnitza for asset management and Zendesk for tracking issues. We knew what device had we assigned to a user and extended this to the peripherals we were incorporating and supporting in their necessary work from home environment.
As we settled into a routine, we streamlined the processes, delegating tickets with hardware needs passed to me, assessed and approved, and confirmed shipping information.
We tracked the UPS tracking communicating through the ticket when an item would be delivered, confirm that the technology had been received, and coordinated any return shipment as needed.
We leveraged Oomnitza to capture if a device was assigned, damaged, inventory, or in repair as well as assignment. Oomnitza also captures historical data to note if a device such as a student iPad was covered under AppleCare and replaced. An Apple replacement required an update of the device completely to ensure we removed the damaged device from our MDM (JAMF Casper) and updated Oomnitza that the student now had a different device. The tracking of this also played into the assignment of apps within Casper and Apple School Manager.
As we moved into the summer and prepared for the start of the school year, we also had planned to update several devices as part of a scheduled upgrade process. The unsureness of schedule complicated the planned updates and if and when school would start.
Thankfully the team prepared laptops at the end of the summer and when we could schedule time (which we did and leveraged the best practices of health and safety) to hand off equipment to faculty and staff. Once we received their “old” device back, we adjusted the inventory appropriately.

As many organizations continue to work remotely, knowing what systems and equipment are in your employees’ hands is critical. Incorporating that into a ticketing system and MDM streamlines the process and limits places where mistakes and confusion may cause issues.

Technology professional