For the sake of this discussion, I'm going to refer to the Wikipedia definition of a performance metric.

Performance metrics measure an organization's activities and performance. It should support a range of stakeholder needs from customers, shareholders to employees. While, traditionally, many metrics are finance based, inwardly focusing on the performance of the organization, metrics may also focus on the performance against customer requirements and value. 

Without metrics that reflect what is happening in the environment, it is difficult to assess where there may be problems or where everything is functioning seamlessly. As a result, IT asset management programs will put in place basic hardware asset management metrics that track both spare parts/stockroom inventory and deployed hardware.

Determining which assets are within scope is the first step to creating useful hardware metrics. The scope of the metrics should not include any BYOD assets or contractor's hardware if they were not purchase by the organization. Also, recognize that having one hardware asset management metric, where all of the assets are lumped together, is not helpful because it doesn’t provide visibility or any level of detail.

[tweetthis]Metrics are an opportunity for continuous improvement. [/tweetthis]

For spare-parts/stockroom inventory levels, there is no "ideal" quantity of new assets but tracking should be in place to ensure that assets are not aging out on the shelf or being misplaced or stolen. An asset that is aging might have a warranty in effect that is declining or the residual value of the asset is eroding. Having a defined policy for selecting assets and fulfilling service requests will help technicians to know which assets they should be deploying. This way, assets will not get pushed to the dark corners of the shelves.

When it comes to available new and slightly used hardware, that number is based on many factors, such as capacity/demand, corporate growth rate, supply-chain availability, delivery timeframes, etc. There is no "right" answer for an acceptable level of new assets, as it should be based on business needs. The stockroom will also include "old" assets that were removed from deployment but still had a useful life. Given the lifecycle applied to these hardware assets, it could be redeployed to fulfill new service requests where a new asset wouldn't be a requirement.

A second hardware metric is applied to the ability to discover and inventory metrics by hardware-device type. A best-in-class discovery metric should be segmented by device type and take into account both automated scans by discovery tools and manual processes. For specific asset classes, best-in-class discovery for laptop/mobile is approximately 75-80 percent, desktops and workstations should be 85-90% (often these assets are too large to move around inconspicuously), and networking hardware and servers at 98+ percent (because they should be in controlled environment). Where there are significantly more mobile assets than PCs, desktops or workstations the overall IT inventory accuracy could decline because mobile assets are sporadically on the network.

As organizations introduce more agility in the data center, the inventory accuracy metric may decline unless deployment teams are properly motivated to update change-management records quickly and not view it as an administrative task.

[tweetthis]Agile data centers may find that radio frequency identification (RFID) is a necessary alternative to manual scans. [/tweetthis]

In large organizations, with thousands of hardware assets, a secondary level is applied to the metrics to double validate or cross reference that this is indeed the correct asset. A static data element, such as vendor, model name, and serial number would be an additional level of detail that will confirm if the asset matches the barcode and asset record.

Speaking of bar codes, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that AMI Asset Track4, is a member of the LANDESK One partner program http://www.landesk.com/partners/landesk-one/ami/?langtype=1033. AMI Asset Track4 offers a barcode and RFID solution that can assist companies that are trying to get a handle on managing and tracking hardware. When the mobile hardware asset base is constantly growing, it is imperative to have resources to support the data collection.

When conducting a physical discovery of assets, locating the asset, the first time a scan is conducted, should be factored into the discovery metric. If the hardware can't be found, it may be necessary to contact the last-known user to log in on the device to ask them where the device is. This outreach might lead to the asset being located and  could impact the reliability of the hardware metrics used in the initial inventory scan. A second-pass inventory scan metric might reflect an improvement because some of the previously lost assets are now properly updated in the ITAM tool.

Any type of metric is only as useful as the process that supports it. So, if you are looking for a one-size-fits-all metric that applies to every device type, every organization, and every industry it doesn’t exist. Make sure the metrics fit what is realistic in your environment and has the level of detail that is needed provide meaningful data.

Join me for a presentation at LANDESK's Interchange16 annual conference, May 23-26th, in Las Vegas, NV at the Mirage Resort, where I will be presenting on issues related to IT and software asset management metrics. Register now to ensure you are part of the fun, networking and of course, participating in the educational sessions. http://interchange.landesk.com/index.php

If you can’t make it to Interchange, there are ITAM webinars, targeted at every level of maturity, located at landesk.com/webinars.