Any IT Dept. knows, that a correct inventory is almost impossible to accomplish. I decided that there had to be a way to force my co-workers into accurately moving assets and recording their changes in inventory. My solution was a two part process. Make the inventory very easy to access and edit and make the inventory an necessary part of our daily tasks. First I started by creating a new inventory.

picture-1We were using an old Access DB that had started to die. By the time I got hired, the forms in it were not functional. You had to actually edit the table itself. I couldn’t believe that any info in there could be correct. I decided to make a web based inventory instead. Using PHP & MYSQL, I was able to create the back-end pretty quickly. Then it came to style, I created an interactive map that you actually click on the rooms to see assets assigned to that space. It’s decent looking but I found people still weren’t using it like they should.

picture-3Then I got the idea to make an iPhone version. We could all get iPod touches and be able to move inventory while we’re standing at the machine. This would be fun also. After about a week I had something that looked like a native app. Everyone thought it was cool and simple to use. But I couldn’t see people using it too much more than they do the current DB. I decided to force them.

By making things dependent on the inventory being correct, you are forcing your fellow co-workers to get on the ball and make sure things are correct. How did I accomplish this? Printers. Yup, printers are assigned based on their room in inventory. The machine you moved isn’t get the correct printers? Does the computer name match it’s asset? Is the asset in the correct room in inventory? Oh, it’s not? Well move it to the correct room in inventory and then reboot the machine.

This has me thrilled knowing that the inventory will be correct, printers are easy to assign and everyone has the ability to do these tasks themselves. No you don’t need to call the network admin to add the printer. Just move it into the correct room. This solution is also cross platform. I created an applescript for the macs and my partner in crime created a VB script for the PC’s. Hopefully our days of chasing around incorrect inventory are over.

I thought it was important for people to not think of their inventory as a burden but maybe an important tool in keeping everything running. Our inventory is becoming the brain of every script we write. Active Directory used to be the bees knees but with both Macs and PCs, we need something more versitile. PHP & Mysql filled the bill perfectly.