If you can lovingly call your small- or medium-sized business IT department "scrappy"--maybe you're both company president and network administrator--the right tools can make the most of your resources. Inventory auditing software can keep track of company hardware and software without taking your time from other tasks. You'll be able to keep track of assets, plus you'll gain valuable troubleshooting clues, such as an always-current list of software version numbers.
Network Inventory Advisor from ClearApps seeks out these details across your company PCs. The tool runs from a Windows system, but it can also audit Mac and Linux clients. You'll install the software, and it'll return a list of systems attached to the network.
More than just a list of each PC's software, the tool notes the date applications were installed and includes version numbers for both applications and operating systems. You can use it to make sure that clients have current antivirus software and other patches. It'll even track licenses for certain applications, helping you manage allocations. And if you don't have the resources--or mentality--to prevent employees from installing software on their systems, you'll appreciate a running list of their applications.
Hardware audits provide details about PCs' model, and specs: video card information, hard disks, busses, and more. If an employee complains that a system is too slow, you can check the CPU and RAM details at a glance.
Automated scans make the most of your time. You can set Network Inventory Advisor to run on a schedule, without your intervention. It can notify you if it detects a change, so you can be alerted about any PC updates or modifications.
Check out the free demo to see if your business can make use of the tool. If you decide to buy, Network Inventory Advisor starts at $89 for up to 25 networked PCs, and per-system costs drop off with more volume.
While bigger businesses that already have a dedicated IT staff would appreciate this stand-alone tool if it doesn't repeat functionality in their administrative suites, I can see it especially helping companies with minimal network administration. In either situation, if it saves you time and helps manage your PCs, you'll recoup its cost almost immediately.
Zack Stern is building a new business from San Francisco, where he frequently contributes to PC World.