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Tracking
the use of wireless and hand-held devices is one of those tedious but essential
responsibilities for an IT department, and organizations approach it with
varying degrees of commitment and effectiveness. Somewhere between the
extremes—allowing Tablet PCs and pagers to disappear through negligence or
careless record keeping, and spending a large chunk of money to implement a
sophisticated tracking or loss control solution—lies the free, downloadable
TechRepublic Wireless
Equipment Checkout Tool.

The
tool is designed to automate the process of entering and tracking the
whereabouts of the wireless equipment your users are using. It’s a macro-driven
Excel workbook that simplifies recording and modifying information on borrowers
and what they are checking out or returning. You can record the pertinent data,
including user name, department, and phone number; device description; and
additional check-out items, such as batteries and mini-LCD screens.

You
can quickly print out a form for signoff by user and support pro, if you want
to keep paper records on file. You can also generate a report to show
check-out/check-in trends for the week, month, quarter, or year. For example,
you might want to give department managers a quarterly report that indicates
how many of their staff members are using wireless devices, for what duration,
and whether they’ve been returning them on time.

More is more?

The
Wireless Equipment
Checkout Tool
is built to facilitate the routine tasks of tracking
hand-held equipment without being top heavy with features. But does it do what
you need it to do? Would certain additional types of functionality make it more
useful in your day-to-day work? Since we can’t anticipate exactly how the tool
will mesh with the needs of your IT department, we’re hoping you’ll field test
it, share your experience, and suggest refinements or enhancements you’d like
us to make. We don’t expect to build a tool that will be all things to all
techs, but we’re committed to the notion that a useful utility can become even
better if we implement suggestions made by members who think we may be on to a
good thing.

If
you could use some help tracking and reporting usage of wireless devices, we
encourage you to download
the Wireless Equipment Checkout Tool
and try it out. Then, let us (and
other members) know what you think by posting to the discussion below or by joining
our general feedback discussion
on the Downloads page. And feel free to e-mail us with your ideas for
modifying this tool or for creating other types of tools that would save you
time and energy in your work.

If you’re looking for more wireless resources, don’t miss the
special section Spotlight on…Mobile Wireless Security on TechRepublic.
This center offers a slew of white papers, articles, free downloads, Webcasts, as well as valuable
premium products relating to wireless security issues.