Where Have All the Laptops Gone?
Where Have All the Laptops Gone?
The Coronavirus pandemic has forced many organizations to distribute their workforce to home offices that few if any Americans considered realistic as early as February 2020. This sudden shift of the workforce caught many by surprise and required quick response as local and state governments ordered social distancing. This was business as usual for the companies that had mature work-at-home policies. But even they could not escape the challenges faced having to mobilize an entire workforce. After the significant efforts of IT to find and deploy laptops and peripherals to these new at-home workers, the fog is lifting, and it is time to assess what has been deployed, how it is being managed, and how it will be returned.
Why you should know where your recently deployed laptops are?
The laptops are security risks, have financial implications, and compliance requirements that once were easier to manage when they were behind the firewall and on premise. Desktops, after all, are for the most part static in their location. But the laptops that were deployed were done so in haste possibly without consideration to the impact to the organization. An ITAM program’s responsibility is to have the data necessary to support IT security, IT financial, and compliance requirements. If there is no record of what was installed, what was shipped, then the data is incomplete.
The in-office worker is now at-home outside of the corporate firewall and behind what? Now more than ever there is a need to understand what data the user has access to and if the laptop can be patched and security monitored. Has the user been trained on appropriate use of laptop that is now outside of the corporate firewall and possibly available to family members? What do you know about the device at its new location that can benefit IT security?
What appears to be a simple device has significant cost implications for the organization including warranty, maintenance agreements, laptop software, server-side software licenses, docking station, additional monitor, printer, and additional software that supports the remote worker such as VPN software and collaboration software. Can these investments be recovered in case of an off-boarding event?
Are your at-home workers in a role where they are accessing data that is governed under legislation such as HIPAA, PCI or GDPR? Are the controls your organization had in place still effective for the at-home deployment?
Regaining Control and Accurate Data
The objective must now be to regain control over the assets we have deployed to the new at-home workforce. This may go beyond the laptop asset to include the docking station, printer, VPN software, and collaboration software. Processes and tools we use to depend on may not apply. This may require a different approach to tracking and managing the assets. For example, is your discovery tool limited or blocked from discovering assets outside of your corporate firewall? Are you properly licensed at the server side for an additional device for the user? Are you managing any new software licenses that were acquired for the at-home worker? Was the asset leased and needs to be returned when the user returns? And finally, is your off-boarding process robust enough to collect that which was shipped to the user? Additionally, in the event of an economic downturn, what is your software license position? Solutions vary and may be temporary. For example, this may be an optimal time to conduct a physical inventory with the cooperation of the at-home workforce or do a software license review.
This world-wide event has caught many off guard. ITAM teams were probably understaffed to begin with. MCPc’s ITAM practice is staffed with seasoned IT asset management professionals with tools and data analysis that can fill the gaps created by this pandemic.
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