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3 Tips for Buying Hardware Assets Without Losing Your Mind (or Your Money)

Buying hardware assets for your organization can be a daunting task. You have to deal with vendors, procurement, ITAM, approvals, receipts, and more. And if you’re not careful, you might end up with equipment that is overpriced, outdated, stolen, or worse.

But don’t worry, we’re here to help. In this blog post, we’ll share with you some tips and tricks on how to make the hardware asset purchase process as smooth and painless as possible. Whether you’re buying or leasing new equipment, we’ll help you:

– Get the best prices from vendors

– Capture equipment details in the asset register

– Avoid theft and fraud

– Save time and money

Ready? Let’s get started!

 Tip 1: Don’t get hardware quotes from vendors!

The first step in buying hardware assets is to get a quote or several quotes from different vendors. This will help you compare prices, features, warranties, and delivery times… or so we’re told! And in fact, we did include this as a step in our process, but it is a step you should avoid if at all possible.

As a corporate which regularly buys hardware, a much better approach is to work with your service management teams to define hardware standards that will allow you to agree a bulk deal with a supplier and drive down costs through both economies of scale (the more of something you buy, the cheaper it becomes) and economies of scale (reduced support and administration costs through standardisation).

Agreeing a standard set of hardware models is just the first step. Review your ordering habits to understand what volumes you have ordered in the past, review refresh budgets, and work with programme and project managers to understand what new hardware will be required over the next year. Consider also what other services you might like your supplier to provide – do you need them to provide warehouse and storage services? Asset tag equipment for you? Perhaps even put your standard build on equipment before it is shipped. Once you understand these issues you can go to market and drive a deal with the supplier that allows you to just order hardware without the administrative overhead of getting quotes every time you need equipment.

Even small organisations can have these conversations with their reseller, while large multi-national organisations can negotiate direct with the manufacturer (e.g., Dell or Lenovo) to agree global standard models and global pricing to maximise the advantages of their size. Cost plus arrangements can then be put in place with local resellers to ensure that your business units continue to get the ‘personal’ service they may be used to.

Large organisations should consider implementing an IT asset demand management process (we’re planning to write one in the next release of the HAM Kit!), which formalises the process of understanding future requirements, communicating forecasts to suppliers, getting an estimate of supply lead times, and tracking the deployment of assets so that you can fine tune your forecast accuracy and improve your stock management.

The benefits of implementing a demand management process stretch well taking advantage of economies of scale to minimise asset costs. Hardware suppliers have long, complex supply chains, which, as we saw during covid, can sometimes break, causing supply problems. If you have a close relationship with your hardware supplier, particularly the ability to provide them with accurate forecasts which allow them to collaborate with their own suppliers to actively manage demand for the components that are required to build a laptop or server, they are much more likely to prioritise your supply and work with you to minimise the impact of supply constrains such as those we saw during covid.

 Tip 2: Capture equipment details in the asset register

The next step is to enter the new equipment into the IT asset register as soon as ownership of the asset is transferred from the vendor to your organization.  Traditionally, this is done on receipt of the assets – the serial number and asset tag would be entered into the asset management system, often through scanning.

A better option is to work with your suppliers to send you advance shipment notices – including serial numbers and / or asset tags (if you have an arrangement for your supplier to asset tag your equipment). This way, you can create ‘shell records’ in your system in advance of the assets actually being received, so those who receive the delivery just have to scan the assets to ensure they match the details already there – it the match is incorrect, they will receive notification of a problem which they can then investigate. It’s much quicker and simpler for the teams receiving the goods, particularly if you integrate your asset management system with your procurement system to automate the creation of the goods receipt note (GRN) to allow the invoice to be automatically paid!

Tip 3: Avoid theft and fraud

Physical security is an important aspect of buying new goods. Theft and fraud is a common problem that can cost your organization a lot of money and reputational damage. Your procurement processes should already (by law) have guardrails built into them to reduce fraud – for instance a rule that the person who raises the purchase order cannot physically receive the assets or raise the GRN (also known as ‘separation of duties’, and that invoices can only be paid on a successful 3-way match between purchase order (PO), GRN and the invoice.

Other things to consider are:

– Locking up new equipment in a secure location until it is deployed into service

– Checking the identity and credentials of vendors and delivery personnel

– Verifying the serial numbers when goods are received and ensure they are entered in the asset database (rather than waiting for them to be discovered once they are put on the network)

– Conduct regular audits your hardware assets, particularly when they are not on the network. Make sure you are comparing what _should_ be in your storeroom against what is actually there, and investigate any discrepancies!

– Implement separation of duties within IT – just as procurement must legally implement certain separation of duties, think how you can implement it within IT to reduce the opportunities for people to steal assets. So for instance, make sure that the person doing the receiving of the laptops and raising the GRN doesn’t deploy them.

Save time and money!

HAM is time-consuming and expensive to implement, as well as creating additional work for engineering and support teams who have better things to do with their time (this is a fundamental truth!).

However, implementing these tips mean you can make the hardware asset purchase process a breeze. You’ll be helping your service management teams save time and money by maximising economies of scale scope.

Developing a close relationship with vendors to define

By following these steps, a breeze. You’ll be able to buy or lease the equipment you need, at the best price, with minimal hassle. And you’ll be able to manage and protect your hardware assets effectively, saving you time and money in the long run.

Happy buying!

Related Processes and Courses

Hardware Asset Purchase Process

This process will generally be owned and managed by the procurement department rather than ITAM. The activities in this process are designed to ensure that procurement best practice is followed, and to minimise the theft and fraud that is all too common before assets are deployed into service. It follows that the primary purpose of this process is to ensure that all new equipment, whether leased or purchased outright, is entered into the asset register as soon as ownership of the asset is transferred from the vendor to the organisation. Not only does this ensure the IT asset register provides an accurate record of all equipment owned or leased by the organisation, it also makes it much more likely that the theft of new equipment is noticed, and the culprit identified and disciplined.

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