One thing that really irks me is inconsistent registration and configuration for hardware and software devices. The little things like the registered name and associated email with products makes managing the business of IT really difficult. Compound the complication when a number of administrators are involved, and we can quickly get into trouble. Over the years, I've developed a few practices that really help organize this process. I'll share some of them here in this post.
The first practical tip is to set a designated email address for all registration, warranty and software licensing for your group. Depending on the size of the group, it also may make sense to split those categories up or possibly add more. The takeaway is that it is much simpler to use a designated email address rather than tying it to a single individual. Further, that email address may be well served by a group mailbox or a distribution list. I tend to prefer the group mailbox route, as the sent items are easier to track; and the blurring of one's personal email management is avoided. Every administrator manages their own inbox differently, whereas a group mailbox can be administered consistently and by rules set forth by management. Another tip that may make sense with the email addresses assigned for this purpose is also to engage the purchasing department. Some organizations have larger purchasing departments that assist greatly on warranties and other service related items with IT; ensuring they have access is a good communication practice.
The next practical tip is to leverage a standard phone number for all registrations, this can seem easy enough; but we may miss that courtesy call about warranty expiration on a product that the administrator who quit implemented. Seems obvious when this equipment breaks, right? Maybe take some time with the telecom group to see what options are available, or employ a group voicemail box. Out of band solutions like a Google Voice phone number may be an option, but take some time to think about continuity in the phone number registered, such as accounting for your primary office phone number changing or not being available for some other reason.
A final easy practical tip on managing software and hardware registration processes is to manage all credentials for these accounts well and consistently. A number of strategies exist; some people like Dropbox for sharing an Excel document. I'm not wild about that, but that is what some people do. I like using encrypted drives with a token. Something like every time you see a "5" it is a "@" in the password, and the reverse. That way, if the content is intercepted; there is a (small) barrier to immediate compromise until all credentials are changed.
What tips have you leveraged to manage software and hardware registrations? Share them below.
Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.