When we originally developed our products, and as we improve them over time, we are always oriented towards solutions we want to use. And there is no better proof than showing you how effectively InvGate uses InvGate Insight to implement our IT Asset Management (ITAM).
Ricardo Mariño, Internal IT at InvGate, shared with us a thorough behind-the-scenes look at how Insight plays a crucial role in our day-to-day processes and operations.
For the sake of the article, we broke down the narrative into the following elements:
- Building the IT inventory
- Managing the IT inventory
- Providing support to the service desk.
- Bonus: Self-trialing new features
So, get ready to discover the unique features that empower us (and can do the same for you) to achieve proactive ITAM with InvGate Insight.
Building the IT inventory
Having a complete, unified, and updated inventory creates a solid baseline to efficiently implement the Asset Management strategy. It allows us to have full control and visibility over all our Configuration Items (CIs).
This includes their monitoring, stage, changes, and relationships between them. So, the first thing we do is to build it (and update it when necessary).
First we add the assets manually on our InvGate Insight instance, and then create and print the QR codes with a thermal printer. For instance, this is the case for computers and peripherals we typically have in stock to respond to the estimated staff growth. And whenever a new batch of computers arrives, we repeat the process.
As soon as the QR codes are attached to the assets, we can easily scan them with a mobile device to access the assets’ profile in a matter of seconds. In this profile, we can see its details (including vendor, model, serial number, and hardware capabilities).
"Being able to scan physical assets saves us a lot of time because we don't need to take them out of the box or log into the computer. We can simply get to the asset's profile and see its vendor, model, serial number, warranty, and hardware capabilities."
We also add digital tags that categorize these CIs in our instance to identify their status (new stock, stock, assigned, in repair, or decommissioned), track them, report, and automate processes. For this process, Mariño highlighted that smart tags are preferred because once they configure the rules, all the assets that fall into that category are automatically labeled.
Going a step further, when devices are about to change status to “assigned,” our IT team installs the InvGate Insight’s Agent on them (so that the hardware starts reporting to our instance) and links it to their owner.
Along this process, the Discovery feature allows us to import and monitor any device that’s connected to the network. It works by scanning the network and reports everything that it finds within the IP range that we previously configured. Then, we add the found devices to our inventory.
This feature is particularly useful for switches, access points, printers, cameras, and TVs. We also have a different IP address assigned for each asset, so it is easy to monitor them and understand any changes or possible issues.
Another key CI in this process is contracts. As soon as we purchase new devices, we add the warranty and other contracts with all the other data, including vendor, contact number and mail, and expiration date. Then, we create a relationship between the contract and the asset to have quick access to it.
Ricardo Mariño, Internal IT at InvGate.
However, all these assets don’t stand separated; on the contrary, many of them lean on each other to operate correctly. The whole infrastructure team needs to clearly understand the connections between all the CIs, including switchers, servers, firewalls, routers, internet providers, and all their co-relationships.
We can’t rely on having one single technician know how it’s all mapped and routed. So, once we have all the assets in our inventory, we use InvGate Insight’s Configuration Manager Database (CMDB) tool, which allows us to create a visual map of the IT infrastructure.
"The best thing about having the CMDB within InvGate Insight is that we can easily track any issue, as we have all the assets of our network reporting to our instance."
Managing the IT inventory
Building and updating the IT inventory is just the starting point to be able to perform our daily ITAM tasks. Once the information is complete and clearly set out, we use InvGate Insight to monitor the state of our assets and perform proactive IT Asset Management.
Let’s see in more detail how we do it.
Monitoring IT assets
The first thing we do is leveraging monitoring tools: Health Status and (yet again) smart tags. The former provides us with an easy view of the state of the devices that report to our instance, and helps us make sure that all of them are in optimal condition and in compliance. Meanwhile, as we mentioned above, smart tags allow us to categorize assets automatically, making it super easy to spot abnormalities or warnings.
For instance, Ricardo Mariño mentioned that they use smart tags to identify devices that have torrent downloaders installed on them, or to ensure that we’re in compliance with the SOC 2 certification. For the latter, “we use Vanta, an agent that monitors if our computers are secure and perform as the standard establishes. Thus, we automate notifications to monitor whenever this software isn’t reporting to our instance.”
Another thing we monitor is software usage. We have a limited amount of licenses available, so this is a game changer for our IT budgeting practices. InvGate Insight’s Software Metering feature shows us how much (and how often) employees use licenses. With this information, we can make decisions to avoid waste, such as removing the ownership of the license, reassigning it, or even deciding whether it’s worth renovating it.
But it isn’t all about software, we also monitor hardware through the Agent. Some of the most common activities we perform in this area include:
- Getting the vendor and model of the pieces of hardware.
- Making sure that the discs are encrypted.
- Checking on any possible changes or missfunctionings.
To illustrate this better, Mariño told us that they once noticed a smart tag that showed one of the RAM memories of a computer was disconnected. The user only noticed their device was running a bit slower, but they didn’t report it. So, thanks to the automation, they reached that person and were able to fix the problem.
Our Internal IT expert solves this with InvGate Insight’s dashboards and reports. One example of this is the way in which the IT team keeps an eye on all the non-compliance software in our environment. They run and save reports periodically to take snapshots of the assets for a specific date, understand trends, and share with external stakeholders, improving collaboration among many areas in the organization.
But what happens when an issue is detected? Mariño described that, after they receive an automated notification or report that contains a problem, they usually have to access the employer's computer that needs to be fixed. To do so, they take advantage of InvGate Insight’s integration with TeamViewer.
Thanks to the Agent installed on the device, they can track the ID number and access it from the asset’s profile on our instance. This way, they can troubleshoot the issue, fix it, and change its status without having to actually see the device – something truly useful to help our remote workers!
Providing support to the service desk
InvGate Insight seamlessly integrates with InvGate Service Desk, our ITSM solution. And combining the power of both practices enables us to have complete control over our IT environment and solve more efficiently the issues and queries of our team members through the central ticketing system.
The integration lets our agents easily track the assets linked to the tickets that employees open. They can also see all the other relationships that exist between that user and other assets.
And the same works the other way. If we have identified a device with an issue, we can go to the asset’s profile – whether by scanning its QR code or through the search bar – and create a new request related to it.
"Because we have more than one technician working in this process, automating these tasks reduces the error range over 95% than before the use of the workflows."
The onboarding and offboarding processes are great examples here. A recurrent task included in both procedures is the assignment or returning of equipment, and we automate them within those workflows, reducing the need for manual and repetitive tasks.
Our reporting capabilities are also enhanced with this integration as we can cross relevant information. For instance, we can look up how many tickets are related to one single asset or one asset category, which could help us identify a potential major problem, a key step in Problem Management.
Bonus: Self-trialing new features
There are many perks that come with using our own tool. We mentioned at the very beginning that we aim to design tools we wish to use. And a huge part of that is that we get to self-trial new updates and features, to prove their value and help with the final tweaks.
If there is something that we believe would work better with certain adjustments or can be improved, we can raise our hand and communicate it to the team. And, when new features effectively are launched, we get to test them first for a certain period of time. This makes sure that, when they are made available to customers, they have already been reviewed and approved by our teams.
This is the case of the new customizable dashboards functionality our Product team is working on. We got to try it in advance, and it already looks like a “game changer,” according to Ricardo Mariño.
This feature (still in the makings) lets each technician build their own dashboard with the metrics they want to have easy access to, as well as share it with other team members or stakeholders to analyze the data and make informed decisions.
"As all the data is one click away, it is easy to know what to prioritize and what needs to be done. It basically shows all the information technicians need to do their jobs in one single pane of glass."
This truly embodies the proactive approach to ITAM we have at InvGate since an agent’s day starts by analyzing the dashboard. At a glimpse, Mariño and his team know about the stock and categories, computers that haven’t been reported in the last 15 days, software installations, software usage, antivirus, firewall, Operational Systems installed, and warranties that are about to expire, among other stuff.
Depending on what they see on the dashboard, they organize and prioritize the tasks of the day. Sometimes, there are urgent matters that need to be attended to as soon as possible. On other occasions, there are some things that need to be taken care of, but not with that urgency level.
Overall, this improved visibility helps them identify urgencies three times faster than having to go through the assets menu.
Using our tool on a daily basis allows us to optimize our ITAM tasks and act proactively, making sure our whole IT environment is both safe and efficient for our employees. At the same time, it helps us to find constant improvements in our product to guarantee they are fit for purpose and our customers have the best possible experience when using them.
They say the practice makes the master. And that’s exactly what happens using InvGate Insight. The more our teams work with it, the more they discover new possibilities within the tool and its wide range of functionalities.
Remember that you can too manage your IT assets as we do it. No matter how big or small your organization is (and even if it still relies on Excel to manage its inventory), InvGate Insight’s flexibility makes it really easy to adapt and scale, depending on the need. If you want to see for yourself how it’d be to handle your infrastructure with InvGate Insight, ask for a 30-day free trial and give it a go!