The arrival of winter unrelated, as this phenomenon occurs all year round, office hardware components have a certain tendency to migrate, from workstation to workstation. Unlike in the animal kingdom however, the migration is not voluntary and they do not leave their home in search for sunnier skies. A monitor, a keyboard or even a more internal component, like a power source, will find a temporary home at another workstation where there is a more severe need for it. All other scenarios aside, this is only about the sanctioned transfers, the ones acknowledged by and done with managerial supervision.
The most common occurrence is the Quick Fix. Something unexpected took place or someone didn’t take enough steps ahead and now a zero-day solution is needed. Things need to be fixed fast and they need to look right, like that was the plan all along. A perfect example is a morning, or even an afternoon business meeting that involves a presentation. Whether Jim didn’t read his emails or if a last minute change, Mr. Roberson will also take part in the meeting, and will be helping with the presentation. Also, the presentation will be an interactive one and the clients will also participate.
This means that everything that was prepared needs to be tenfold.
There’s a computer in the meeting room, but we need a lot more. First thing, ask someone from IT to bring some computers in. Sure, they have plenty of them in storage, but none are ready to be used this very minute. Most are just a jumble of wires and computer boards, dusty and dreary looking, most definitely not fit to be used by business clients.
So they take a few computers from graphic design; those things have NASA-level components – they can handle anything. The keyboards however are haggard and most of them are covered in coffee stains so they take some from marketing. One of the guys in Quality Assurance is a video games maniac and has a really slick mouse brought from home. It’s a start.
The rest we’ll grab from wherever we can. The presentation itself isn’t a problem; we’ll just snatch any USB flash drives we find lying around. Since this won’t be a simple whiteboard presentation, they’re also going to pilfer a projector from the recreation room. And while they’re pillaging all over the building, they’ll loot any laptops or tablets they can find to be used by the clients.
In the end, it all worked out – the presentation was a success. The clients loved the big show and also appreciated the presence of Mr. Robertson. It made them feel like the company values them as a client. But when the dust settles and the chaos ends, Jim and the IT guys start to clear the business room only to stare, dazed and confused, at the “Frankenstein presentation machine.” It slowly hits them: they have no idea from where they took half of all this stuff.
This is just one scenario, and in truth a rather elaborate one for something inspired by real facts. The reasons for migrating hardware are many, varied and most of the time far simpler. But the problem is that it’s one we often stumble upon. Few companies have any kind of physical way of keeping track of their IT assets. As soon as you move a computer away from an office desk it’s hard to track it and help it make its way back home. A solution is to hook it up to another system, look at its hardware configuration and crosscheck it with your IT database. Crosscheck that with the list of people who haven’t answered their email in days (because they don’t have a computer to access their office email) and you’ve successfully narrowed down your list of potential suspects.
The other way is to add a “tracker” to the computers. A barcode identification system easily scanned that reveals vital information about the computer case it’s attached to. Or if you don’t want to haul a cash register with you everywhere, use a QR code system. It IS the modern version of a barcode and it’s even compatible with Android cellphones (and iOS, with proper 3rd party scanners.)