Organizations rely on a complex web of hardware, software, and network resources to carry out daily processes, making it crucial to ensure these assets are acquired, deployed, maintained, and retired strategically.
While organizations are advised to invest in ITAM tools for maintaining a healthy IT environment, most businesses still track the IT asset lifecycle of devices through spreadsheets. According to a report by Workflow, 43% of enterprises still track their IT assets in spreadsheets while 56% don’t manage their IT assets’ lifecycle at all.
This mismanagement and lack of a proper system can result in hefty unnecessary costs, siloed IT operations and decreased business value. Companies need to implement smarter solutions to manage the lifecycle of their assets while utilizing these devices to their full value, and simultaneously innovating their IT ecosystem for the future.
What is IT asset lifecycle management?
IT asset lifecycle management is a comprehensive approach to manage IT assets through every phase of their life span. In an IT ecosystem, there are various processes and policies associated with every device lifecycle stage aimed to optimize the use of IT assets, control costs, ensure compliance with regulations, and maximize the return on investment (ROI) from IT resources.
The primary goal of IT asset lifecycle management is to handle an asset from its procurement to retirement and disposal. This includes but isn’t limited to tracking asset usage, scheduling regular servicing, maintaining and upgrading security measures, and disposing of the asset properly when no longer needed.
IT asset management lifecycle stages
Although IT asset management lifecycle stages can vary depending upon the asset type, organizational policies, and ITAM strategies, there are some core stages that remain the same. Following is a detailed breakdown of what each stage looks like and how ITAM can help you streamline your IT asset lifecycle management:
A well-defined IT lifecycle process should start from scratch. The strategic phase is where you outline the business goals of the organization, review the current state and decide how the IT investments that you are planning on making will help you achieve those goals over the next few years.
This step is all about identifying the business needs before deciding upon the right set of software applications and hardware assets. You should have a clear idea of how these assets can contribute towards employee productivity, streamlined operations, and business success on the whole.
The verification of the asset requirements depends upon a number of factors. You have to keep in consideration the existing assets and their potential to meet the service delivery needs. A significant proactive measure is that before procuring the new assets, IT teams assess the sufficiency of the existing assets, and make sure that the existing IT assets are not being under-utilized.
The second stage of the hardware and software asset management lifecycle is to procure the requested assets from the vendors. You will have to look into the assets in the market with the aim of ensuring cost effective acquisition, while also making sure that the assets are fit to use as per your organizational needs.
To streamline this process, most businesses keep a repository of all vendors they regularly procure their assets from. This helps them speed up the process, and reduces the manual labor of searching for the vendors, fetching their information, and sending them purchase orders manually.
Since the rapid adoption of ITAM tools, most organizations can now automate their procurement processes with vendor management capabilities in the IT asset management software. For the hardware vendors, they can just check if the required assets are available before automatically sending out pre-designed invoices. Similarly, they can send timely renewal requests for software licenses, request more seats, or put in requests for different licensing plans.
Robust ITAM tools make the acquisition process a lot quicker for IT teams by offering barcode, QR code, and RFID code scanning options. If you are procuring assets in bulk, you can just scan them, assign them unique identifiers in your ITAM solution, and start tracking their usage in real-time.
Deployment and configuration
This stage majorly concerns the correct provisioning of the new hardware devices. Once you have acquired the assets, IT teams deploy them to the relevant users at designated locations, and this information is reflected in the software for tracking purposes.
Having an IT asset management software in place minimizes the risk of manual errors during deployment and saves time, —especially for organizations that are spread across multiple locations or the businesses that deploy assets in bulk.
One of the common use cases of bulk deployment is yearly device provisioning in K-12 school districts. Every school year, hundreds or thousands of devices get deployed at the same time, making it difficult for the IT team to keep track of every individual deployment.
If these K-12 districts have an ITAM implemented district-wide, it would be easier to deploy the right devices to the right users. In addition, IT teams wouldn’t have to manually add this information in a spreadsheet, but instead, they will be able to import this data from a mobile device management (MDM) platform.
This stage also entails setting up the IT assets, downloading and installing relevant software applications, aligning configurations, and enabling the required integrations. It helps IT managers gauge the success of the deployment cycle with an MDM or an ITAM agent.
When a new user signs up on a machine, the network discovery tool picks up the device and user data and tallies it against the ITAM data to ensure that the device has reached the right end-user.
Maintenance and servicing
When it comes to the lifecycle of hardware assets, diligent upkeep and timely servicing pays off in terms of enhanced asset lifespan, security, and cost savings. Hardware devices like laptops, servers, and printers etc. should be routinely checked for signs of wear and tear and should be serviced accordingly. A lot of hardware assets come with vendor recommendations for servicing and lifespan and you can save this information on your ITAM software for future reference.
Maintenance and servicing for software assets include upgradation to the latest versions, running checks for security vulnerabilities in the network, and enhancing functionality. Effective service runs for your software and network assets can safeguard your organization against cyber attacks.
Although your IT teams can manually manage these maintenance schedules via spreadsheets, it is easier and quicker to do so with an ITAM tool. IT asset management tools come with built-in workflows for servicing so you can schedule maintenance, manage hardware warranties, upgrade faulty hardware components, and provide support for endpoint functionality. ITAM tools also enable you to track the health and status of an asset in real-time which also facilitates preventive maintenance, decreasing downtime.
When an asset completes its lifespan, it either starts underperforming or breaks down completely. Same is the case with software assets. Their license expire and either they are treated as surplus or they require renewal of licenses.
Such assets that have completed their lifespan should be properly disposed of and it is IT teams’ duty to ensure that all valuable data has been erased beforehand. Storing device lifecycle data in an ITAM automates the retirement cycle to some extent so you don’t have to screen through every device to retire the old ones.
You can create reports for assets that are retiring in the next 30, 60, or 90 days so you can have ample time to process these devices according to your organization’s device usage guidelines. Once you have officially retired the asset, you would need to update this information in your IT asset management tool for accurate record keeping.
Benefits of IT asset lifecycle management
The IT asset lifecycle management process is a crucial part of the entire IT asset management landscape. If its foundation is well-maintained and is managed on a reliable ITAM software, then it can be considered a key ingredient in business success and optimal access management. Here is how it can bring business value for your organization:
Effective IT asset lifecycle management helps organizations gain better control over their IT expenditures. By tracking asset procurement, utilization, and end-of-life processes, IT teams can identify cost-saving opportunities. This includes eliminating underutilized assets, optimizing licensing agreements, and making informed decisions about asset retirements or upgrades.
In addition, since all your IT assets are monitored, you’ll get alerts before the problem arises. You will no longer have to spend a hefty amount of money on asset breakdown and unplanned downtime.
Enhanced employee experience
A well-managed IT environment contributes to positive employee experience and productivity. Having an ITAM helps you ensure that your employees have access to the right tools and software to get their job done.
You can accurately track the lifecycle of employees’ assets to reduce frustration that comes with outdated technology and faulty hardware. Instead of employees requesting new devices and then waiting for weeks on end to get those devices, you can proactively plan how to phase out retiring devices and get replacements swiftly without costing the employees their time and productivity.
By minimizing disruptions caused by unexpected downtime or software glitches, you can create a more productive work environment.
One of the biggest advantages of organizations going paperless is that they track all information on a consolidated platform and are able to utilize the tracked data to learn about trends and patterns. For example, if you are tracking your Dell laptops on your ITAM tool, you can generate reports to get insights on device lifespan, depreciation, and performance as these assets depreciate over time.
Tracking IT asset lifecycle for software and hardware assets provides valuable insights regarding performance and helps identify trends for better budgeting decisions in the future. You can also generate compliance reports, calculate overall asset costs per department or location, and calculate ROI generated from your assets.
For organizations in regulated industries like education, medicine, IT etc., compliance is non-negotiable. IT asset lifecycle management plays a vital role in helping organizations stay compliant with various industry regulations and software licensing agreements.
Compliance often requires detailed documentation and reporting. ITAM systems generate reports that document the complete asset lifecycle, including procurement, usage, maintenance, and disposal. These reports provide auditors with the evidence they need to verify compliance.
In addition, proper disposal of the retired IT assets is also crucial for compliance with environmental regulations. IT asset lifecycle management processes help IT teams ensure that the electronic waste is disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner.
Streamlining IT operations is at the core of IT asset lifecycle management. With proper IT processes and protocols in place, you can ensure that hardware assets are available when needed, and outdated assets are decommissioned promptly. You can also replace and upgrade technology more efficiently, and with minimum downtime. These robust processes boost overall operational efficiency, reduce manual tracking, and enhance productivity.
In addition, the automated IT asset management processes simplify repetitive manual tasks, freeing up IT teams for most strategic initiatives.
IT asset lifecycle management best practices
Different organizations follow different IT asset lifecycle management practices depending upon the tools and protocols they have set in place. These practices also vary across organizations of different sizes and across different industries. There are some IT asset lifecycle management best practices that are applicable across all use cases.
- The success of any IT asset lifecycle management process is dependent upon maintaining a comprehensive inventory of your organization’s IT assets. You should ensure that the inventory includes all hardware, software, and network assets that your organization owns.
- Create a detailed IT asset lifecycle management plan that contains a roadmap of asset management from procurement to disposal. You should also outline responsibilities, processes, and timelines for each asset category.
- Since manual tracking is time consuming and prone to errors, you should invest in an IT asset management software. Implementing an IT asset management software streamlines asset discovery and tracking, enhances accuracy, and reduces manual errors.
- Use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track asset health and usage patterns.
Implementing these best practices in IT asset lifecycle management can significantly benefit your organization. It enables you to maximize asset value, ensure compliance, reduce risks, and enhance overall efficiency. By creating a comprehensive inventory, utilizing asset-tracking tools, conducting regular maintenance, and monitoring asset performance, you’ll be well on your way to optimizing your IT asset lifecycle.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What are the five stages of IT asset lifecycle management?
Asset lifecycle can be broken into the following stages: planning, acquisition, deployment, maintenance, and retirement.
Why is asset lifecycle management important?
Technology lifecycle management ensures minimum operational disruption, enhances productivity, and improves your security posture.
What are the main goals of lifecycle management?
The main goals for IT asset lifecycle management are to improve asset lifespan, prevent unplanned downtime, and enhance user experience.
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