As much as some IT admins may claim otherwise, using Excel for Asset Management is not a good idea. MS Excel is a powerful tool and has served analysts, accountants, finance personnel, the logistics team, and even IT admins ever since its inception. It has become one of the most ubiquitous office software ever since its initial release. Of late, Google released Sheets, a product similar to Microsoft Excel, as a potential competitor.
But with all its brilliant features, Excel isn’t designed for modern IT Asset Management (ITAM). You can be exposing your company to risks, and losing money in the process. However, there’s an easy way to solve this – and having your beloved spreadsheet is a great first step!
Take a look at nine reasons why you should ditch your spreadsheet ASAP, and how InvGate Insight can help you do Asset Management the right way.
Let’s dive in to know why Excel won’t work for ITAM.
Table of contents
- What is included in IT Asset Management?
- 10 reasons why using Excel for ITAM isn't enough
- Replacing ITAM Excel template with ITAM software
- Frequently asked questions
- ITAM is the process of managing every stage of the IT Asset Management Lifecycle to minimize risks, stay ahead of possible issues, and optimize performance and costs.
- Excel spreadsheets are insufficient to address modern businesses ITAM needs. Firstly, it doesn't monitor your assets and provide real-time updates, resulting in an untrustworthy inventory. It also lacks the level of automation that ITAM requires (including the absence of automated reports) leaving plenty of room for mistakes and inefficient operations.
- With a dedicated ITAM solution, such as InvGate Insight, you’re acquiring is a single platform to manage all your company’s hardware, software, tools, and solutions. You’ll be able to exceed Excel’s capabilities and achieve a centralized and updated inventory, automation, Contract and License Management, periodic reports, and more.
What is included in IT Asset Management?
IT Asset Management is the process of managing every stage of the IT Asset Management Lifecycle – from procurement to disposal – to minimize costs and ensure that they meet business requirements. It includes assessing IT needs and choosing the right solutions to fulfill them, maintaining, monitoring, and updating the assets, and providing the employees with the tools to perform their activities effectively.
Typically, ITAM covers the following practices:
- Software Asset Management - which includes Software License Monitoring, Software Metering, Patch Management, and more.
- Hardware Asset Management - which includes hardware inventory, Asset Monitoring, and more.
- IT Contract Management - which includes software contracts (like stand-alone, suite, Operative System), SaaS contracts, and hardware contracts (such as lease, maintenance, rent, support, and warranty agreements).
- CMDB - which includes the database that stores and manages information about the various components of your IT infrastructure and a visual map that helps simplify the process of managing and maintaining an IT environment.
- Reporting - Reports offer comprehensive understanding of your organization's IT infrastructure and related expenses, ultimately allowing you to optimize both IT budget and performance.
But despite these activities, the reason why ITAM is so valuable to businesses of all sizes is its capability to provide accurate information in real-time to manage assets, making it easier to distribute them, optimize investments, and get ahead of potential issues. In short, ITAM allows you to be proactive.
By now, you can sense that an Excel spreadsheet probably falls short to do the job, but we’re about to take a closer look at where and why this happens.
10 reasons why using Excel for Asset Management is not enough
Proper IT Asset Management is not complicated per se, but it requires ITAM software and at least an IT asset manager to make the most of it. Here are ten reasons that might convince you to migrate from Excel to InvGate Insight.
1. Asset Management is not just maintaining a list of assets
IT Asset Management is a lot more than keeping a list of assets owned or used by the organization. Its power is not only provided by the inventory in itself but by what it can do once that’s done.
If you use Excel for IT Asset Management, what you have is a snapshot of your company’s asset stock on a specific date. But in order to have that picture, you need to create the spreadsheet manually. You have to first create the template, and then populate it with all the assets you need to monitor.
This leaves room for a lot of error. Mistakes in numbers, typos, lack of data normalization, and omissions are just a few of the things that make a spreadsheet unreliable. And on top of that, since you don’t have traceability and the assets are in no way connected to the spreadsheet, you can’t trust that the inventory is up to date, or that it reflects the asset’s current status. So, making decisions based on that is risky, to say the least.
With ITAM software, what you get is a dynamic and trustable inventory. Even though you can start by uploading your current spreadsheet to InvGate Insight, by installing an Agent on your company’s devices (which can be done remotely) you can use the Network Discovery tool to spot all the assets connected to your network and automatically populate your hardware inventory.
Moreover, once the Agent is installed, you can also map all installed software – both authorized and non-authorized – and have it reporting periodically. So, you can have an always up-to-date inventory to decide the best move for your company based on the current needs.
2. Excel cannot monitor assets and provide real-time status updates
We’ve said that using a spreadsheet to track assets is limited, and this is another reason why. Your IT assets and their inventory go in parallel but separate ways. What happens in one of them isn’t reflected in the other.
So, on the one hand, your asset inventory can be quickly outdated. And on the other hand, manually monitoring the assets will take a lot of resources and is simply not feasible. This means that you’ll probably learn something’s wrong after the problem explodes.
With Asset Management software, your assets and the inventory are connected. InvGate’s Agent is periodically reporting what’s going on inside all your organization’s devices, and you can automate your network scanning to spot new devices (which is extremely useful to avoid shadow IT).
Furthermore, if you configure the Health Rules, your ITAM team can constantly monitor the assets’ status, and receive alerts when they are malfunctioning, require maintenance, or are not performing accurately. By monitoring the assets, you can offer a smooth experience to the end-users, act before problems arise, and mitigate the risk (and costs) of downtime. It will also ensure that the assets will have a long lifespan.
3. Lack of traceability and data normalization
Another disadvantage of using Excel for Asset Management is the lack of traceability and data normalization. In short, Excel doesn’t provide you with enough user roles and permissions to ensure the traceability of document editions. Not only you can't select what sections of the spreadsheet a user can edit but also you’re unable to track the changes made by each user.
In addition, Excel can’t detect similarities between data inputs. So, you might have the same asset registered by different names (for instance, an Adobe Photoshop license can be under Adobe Photoshop, Adobe PS, APS, and so on).
Both issues disappear with InvGate Insight. The solution provides you with user profiles to assign the right amount of permissions to your Asset Management team, and you can access the historical data at any time to review their activity. And as for the data inputs, it automatically normalizes them, so you don’t have to worry.
4. You’ll need extensive workarounds to manage licenses with Excel
License Management is another major aspect of ITAM. Different solutions have different types of licenses; some require a license per user, some charge per workstation, and some have floating licenses.
Without proper License Management, your business may end up paying more than it has to. Furthermore, you run the risk of failing to comply with licensing requirements, incurring costly penalties if a software audit knocks on your door.
Though ITAM teams may be able to manage licenses with Microsoft Excel, they’ll probably need a lot of workarounds and it still won’t be as smooth as a dedicated solution.
5. Lack of automation
ITAM is a resource-intensive process. It’s responsible for a large number of tools, solutions, and platforms, and has to constantly be on top of all these assets to ensure that they are performing without a glitch. As you can imagine (or even realize if you’re currently using a spreadsheet), doing it manually is time-consuming and ineffective.
The secret to doing it right – and avoiding constant human monitoring – is automation. With automation, you can reduce your team’s workload to a large extent by avoiding repetitive tasks. For instance, if they have to update employee laptops, they won’t have to go from cubicle to cubicle and manually install the updates.
Obviously, MS Excel doesn’t provide the level of automation asset management requires, but ITAM software will. InvGate Insight allows you to automate alerts, network scanning, inventory updates, reports, and more.
6. Lack of performance reports
And since we mentioned reports, let’s take a moment to understand why lacking this automation is crucial. Reporting capabilities are key in IT Asset Management because they allow you to have a comprehensive and updated view of your IT estate so that you can plan the finances and make purchase decisions.
That being said, Microsoft Excel doesn’t provide its users with automated reports. If you need them, you have to create them manually – which leaves a lot of room for error. How many times have you had to deal with a wrong formula? It can be exasperating to fix, we know.
But with software, the reporting is covered. With InvGate Insight you can customize the reports based on the metrics you’re interested in. Plus, you can automate them so that they arrive in your inbox periodically, providing you with fresh insights to act upon.
7. Excel can’t maintain nor update assets on its own
To deliver consistent IT services, improve asset lifespan, and avoid cybersecurity risks, your company assets need to be maintained and updated regularly. Manually updating a large number of systems will be resource-intensive, and there’s a strong possibility that some of the devices may miss their updates.
It also becomes difficult to keep track of the software versions of the different assets in a spreadsheet, mostly because end-users accept updates on their company devices without letting the IT team know about. They just click the button on the box.
But inventory software can monitor all these for you. InvGate Insight’s Agent periodically reports on software, so you can know in a few clicks which assets need to be updated (and which have been protected by their users), or if their capacity has reached its limit. Furthermore, if you have it connected to InvGate Service Desk, you can create tickets to assign the task and solve the problem.
8. Lack of integrations
Another aspect of ITAM where Excel falls short is integrations. When carrying out an Asset Management strategy, you not only have to list and monitor things but also do things on other devices. And even though some of them might be accessible to your team – such as company servers – in modern businesses, assets are rarely kept in one single room; for geographically distributed teams, they may even be continents apart.
Thus, you’ll need to access them remotely. Now, if you’re using Excel, you’ll need to get other solutions for remote access, and can’t link the two to update the file. Meanwhile, you can integrate InvGate Insight with software like TeamViewer and take advantage of its remote desktop functionality without leaving the ITAM platform – and with the extra advantage of traceability and automatic update of records.
And let's not forget that, as we mentioned right above, integrating ITAM software with your help desk is a clever way to boost productivity and efficiency.
9. Excel and proactive ITAM are incompatible
To get the most out of your hardware and software solutions, businesses need a proactive ITAM strategy. It’s not wise (or cost-effective) to run around trying to fix things. The right approach is to implement a preventative mindset, where you can foresee the future requirements of the organization, employee and customer expectations, and potential issues, and make decisions based on this.
But to be able to do this, you need granular data regarding your organization’s asset performance, usage, associated expenses, and security vulnerabilities. And yes, you guessed right, MS Excel simply doesn’t have the capabilities to collect this data. You can store information and even visualize it (to an extent), but you’ll need separate solutions to collect and filter this data.
10. Excel-based asset management is not scalable
To conclude this list of reasons why doing Asset Management with an Excel spreadsheet is not advisable is the lack of scalability. Very small businesses that have just a couple of laptops and a printer can make Excel work for asset management.
But as the organization grows, it will need more assets to support its needs. At this point, even the simple task of maintaining and updating asset information on Excel sheets will soon take a lot of resources.
And it’s not just a matter of documentation. A large number of assets will also increase the associated risks. The organization will be more susceptible to cyber attacks and may make costly errors in License Management. To avoid this, it's best to start with a dedicated asset management solution even when you’ve just started your business.
Replacing the IT Asset Management Excel template with ITAM software
We’ve covered the reasons why managing assets in Excel is not the best idea for your business. However, if you are already doing it, you might be reluctant to migrate to a platform since there are several switching costs to consider. So, let’s recap what’s at stake, and how to decrease these associated costs.
With a dedicated ITAM solution, what you’re acquiring is a single platform to manage all your company’s hardware, software, tools, and solutions in one place. This centralizes all the asset data, making it easier for teams to analyze it and make better decisions.
On top of this, with InvGate Insight you’ll be able to exceed Excel’s capabilities and achieve:
- A centralized, up-to-date software and hardware inventory.
- Non-IT Inventory Management (which can be done with QR codes).
- Asset monitoring to keep an eye on assets’ performance and tackle issues before they appear.
- Automation to free your team’s time from repetitive tasks and focus their attention on more important tasks.
- Contract and License Management to ensure compliance and avoid fines.
- Software Metering to control license usage and ensure correct distribution of licenses.
- Periodic reports to monitor your team and assets’ performance and adjust in consequence.
- A better employee and customer experience by ensuring a seamless performance from the organization’s tools and assets.
- A secure environment, safe from potential cyber threats, mitigating the risk of asset downtime.
- Clever expenditure and budget planning to invest wisely (and save money on unnecessary assets).
Plus, its intuitive UX, drag-and-drop features, and multiple ways to unify your inventory help reduce switching costs. If we add to this the fact that you don’t need to onboard your whole company to migrate from an Excel template to ITAM software (since just your IT team will need to be aware of this), the decision is a no-brainer.
Microsoft Excel is a powerful solution, but it wasn’t designed for IT Asset Management. Therefore, it doesn’t have enough features to support it and falls short at any attempt to scale it – either in the number of assets or functionalities.
Modern ITAM is not only about maintaining asset information; its also about:
- Optimizing the cost of assets.
- Ensuring asset performance.
- Improving employee and customer satisfaction.
- And ensuring the security of the organization.
Thus, you need a tool that can cover all that, and that accompanies your organization as it grows. Want to see what InvGate Insight can do for you? Request our 30-day free trial and take a look! And if you’re still doubtful about it, you can schedule a call with our experts to ask them anything.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do asset managers use Excel?
Very small businesses that have a small number of assets to manage may use Excel. Here, the role of MS Excel may be limited to keeping track of the assets, their vendors, support information, and their security patches.
But as the size of the organization grows, it won’t be feasible to use Excel for asset management. They’ll be better of with a dedicated asset management solution.
Is Excel good for tracking inventory?
MS Excel can be used for storing inventory information. But it cannot automatically track assets or collect asset information; users will have to collect the data and enter it manually into the sheets. If the organization has a large number of assets and has to collect and update different types of information, it won’t be easy to use Excel for keeping track of the inventory.
What is the best way to monitor assets?
ITAM software would be the best way to monitor assets. To offer continuous service delivery, businesses have to monitor their assets continuously for anomalies. They should have sufficient time to fix issues before they impact the quality of service. Thus, a robust ITAM solution can do the monitoring automatically, and raise alerts if the parameters go outside pre-defined values.