Technology plays a pivotal role in the success of an accounting firm. Whether you are a small local practice or a Top 100 firm with locations across the country, managing your technology inventory effectively is crucial for operational efficiency, security and strategic decision-making.
This article will cover some guidelines for maintaining a comprehensive technology inventory, including hardware and software assets. While we might call these “best practices,” remember your approach to technology inventory management should be tailored to your firm's unique type, needs and goals.
A business case for technology inventory management
Before delving into best practices, let's explore why technology inventory management is essential for accounting firms.
Resource optimization. An up-to-date inventory helps you make informed decisions about resource allocation. You can identify underutilized assets, reducing unnecessary expenses while ensuring you have the right tools for your team.
Security. Knowing what hardware and software are used helps maintain a strong security posture. You can track vulnerabilities and apply updates promptly, reducing the risk of cyberattacks.
Compliance. Accounting firms are held to a high standard for data security. Maintaining an up-to-date inventory helps with compliance by providing a clear view of your technology assets.
Budgeting and planning. Effective inventory management enables better budgeting and long-term planning. You can anticipate when hardware needs replacing and plan software updates strategically.
Support and maintenance. With a well-maintained inventory, IT support teams can be more proactive about support and maintenance, reducing downtime and improving productivity.
Considerations for your hardware inventory management
The first step in any inventory management program is to create a centralized database to record all hardware assets. This database should include the purchase date, warranty information, serial numbers and the user assigned to each device.
In a smaller firm, a spreadsheet may be adequate. Larger firms may want to invest in more advanced inventory management tools.
Once you have a hardware database, consider the following steps and whether they apply to your firm:
Assign unique asset tags to all hardware assets. When your firm has a lot of equipment spread across locations or home offices, tags make identifying and tracking devices easier. Barcode or QR code labels can be particularly efficient for this purpose.
Lifecycle management. Implement a hardware lifecycle management policy that outlines the expected lifespan of each device. This helps in proactively planning for replacements and upgrades.
Regularly audit your hardware inventory. Conduct periodic audits of your hardware inventory to ensure accuracy. This should be done at least annually and whenever there is a significant change in your technology landscape.
Considerations for your software inventory management
Many firms recognize the importance of maintaining a hardware inventory due to the tangible nature of these assets. However, software inventory sometimes takes a back seat. But managing your software inventory is equally important, as it directly impacts security, compliance, cost control and overall operational efficiency.
Here are some considerations for creating or improving your software inventory management program.
License management. Keep a record of all software licenses, including purchase dates, renewal dates and compliance details. This prevents the unintentional use of unlicensed software.
Version tracking. Regularly update your software inventory to track versions and patches. Outdated software can pose security risks, so it's essential to stay current.
User access control. Implement strict access controls to ensure only authorized personnel can install or update software. This prevents shadow IT and unauthorized installations.
Software retirement. Develop a policy for retiring outdated or unused software. Removing unnecessary applications frees up resources and reduces security risks.
Effective technology inventory management optimizes resource allocation and enhances security, compliance and planning. By incorporating the considerations outlined in this article, your firm can maintain a well-organized and up-to-date hardware and software inventory and be better positioned for a rapidly evolving digital landscape.
Could your firm benefit from getting firm management and IT leaders in alignment?
The Boomer Technology Circles are a peer group of firm and technology leaders in the accounting profession who benefit from aligning IT and firm strategy and building valuable long-term relationships with solution providers and peers. Apply now to start building confidence in your firm’s technology decisions.
Erin Shively, IT Coordinator at Boomer Consulting, Inc., is excited to grow the company’s existing tech stack with new and emerging technologies. Her role includes troubleshooting technology issues, tracking and creating internal processes, and handling on-site tech set up for events at the Accounting Innovation Center.