Asset Intelligence and Management

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IT Asset Management Explained: Understanding Types, Process and Benefits

Enhance Efficiency and Streamline Operations With IT Asset Management

Business models are evolving into dynamic and ever-expanding structures that include various work environments. Emerging technologies offer flexibility, enable supervision, and help employees remain productive, regardless of whether they are working in-house or remotely. Accordingly, organizations have been able to expand and manage globally dispersed teams. However, with growth and geographical dispersion comes the challenge of tracking and managing IT assets. Implementing IT asset management practices can help organizations mitigate these challenges, maximize returns, and increase business value. 

What is IT asset management (ITAM)?

IT asset management (ITAM) is a continuous practice of tracking and managing an organization’s entire IT assets throughout its lifecycle. These assets are categorized into hardware assets, software licenses, and network assets. 

What is IT asset management (ITAM)?

Types of IT asset management

1. Hardware asset management

Hardware assets include computers, laptops, keyboards, and other peripheral devices. ITAM helps manage these assets’ financial and physical aspects to forecast future asset investments and maximize their value. Here’s how implementing the ITAM process helps achieve this: 

  • Maintain accurate records of hardware purchases, contracts, and warranties. When any hardware asset is acquired, asset details are recorded such as vendor details, acquisition date, purchase cost, recommended lifespan, etc. These records help to identify underutilized assets and avoid unnecessary purchases. In addition, depreciation costs can be calculated so organizations can calculate assets’ true cost of ownership and track when they have reached end-of-life to comply with accounting standards. 
  • The process also involves using various tracking methods such as barcodes or RFID tags to identify and label each asset uniquely. This helps IT managers locate and monitor asset locations, status, and conditions from procurement to the disposal stage. 

2. Software asset management

Organizations use various software, including hybrid, on-premise, and cloud-based solutions for regular business operations. Each software has different regulations and license agreements that the organization must follow. ITAM keeps track of all software assets, including installed applications, licenses, subscriptions, and maintenance details. 

For example, a new software version is released and the previous version is no longer usable as per agreement. IT asset management tools can help IT managers set permission to access so users can only download the latest version and also revoke access for downloading previous versions. 

Organizations may not know whether they are under or over-utilized, resulting in significant cost overruns or underutilized assets. ITAM tool can help them track the number of licenses in use and the number of licenses purchased. Overutilization of licenses can raise the need for additional licenses purchased whereas underutilization can lead to discontinuing unused licenses. 

For example, a healthcare organization realized through IT asset management that they had many license seats for a specific application that was not being used. Reallocating these licenses to where they can be used can help the organization get the most out of its software investment. 

Software audits are performed to assess the organization’s software needs, adhere to their required standards and regulations, and avoid hefty fines and legal issues identified during audits.

3. Network asset management

These assets include routers, switches, servers, firewalls, printers, etc. Implementing IT asset management practices helps ensure consistent and proactive management of network assets in an organization. 

Any office employee, on-site or remote, uses their laptops to access and connect to company WIFI or printers. With the help of ITAM processes, managers ensure users are provided with secure access when connecting to network assets and also track who has requested access, and grant or revoke access according to job roles. A close check on any unauthorized access or malicious activity helps the organization avoid network breakdowns and keep operations running smoothly.

IT asset management process 

Managing IT assets is a crucial process that evolves with organizational needs and technology advancements. IT managers implement these protocols consistently and execute actions on each asset according to changes in their lifecycle. Here are a few processes that should be followed:  

1. Asset identification and inventory database

IT managers first assign tags to assets and then maintain a record of each asset to ensure the organization knows what it owns, where it is, and who has it. 

The ITAM process helps IT managers create clear barcode labels that can be printed for IT inventory and easily scanned to get up-to-date information on devices such as purchase cost, vendor details, and maintenance schedule, which helps accurately track and keep the devices in optimal condition throughout their lifecycle. 

Network asset management

2. Manage and track IT assets

Managing the asset lifecycle from procurement to disposal helps organizations extract maximum value from their investments. 

Scheduled maintenance and service alerts to timely determine the reassignment or retirement of IT inventory. Well-maintained and high-performing assets help organizations reduce overhead costs and prevent any major breakdowns. They can be used longer and reduce asset repair or replacement expenditures for the organization.

ITAM tool can help accurately monitor device usage, and ownership. It allows auto check-out devices to users based on provisioning and sends custody verification requests to confirm asset ownership and carry out custody audits.

3. Financial planning and decision making

Organizations carry out day-to-day strategic planning activities to achieve long-term goals. 

This can be disrupted if IT professionals forget to renew software licenses, upgrade them to the latest version, or uninstall unused software. 

IT managers are also keen to analyze different key metrics as per the organization’s budget allocation strategy. An ITAM solution provides a customized dashboard where users can view and make informed decisions regarding different KPIs for example, Mean Time to Resolve(MTTR), hardware lifecycle cost, and license management.

For example, an IT asset management system maintains a centralized database of software licenses that are installed on different applications. IT managers have access to real-time information on license types, the number of licenses purchased, and the expiration dates of all software licenses. Having complete visibility into software usage and license management helps organizations stay compliant, audit-ready, and avoid unnecessary fines during audits. 

Benefits of IT asset management  

The goal of IT asset management is to keep track of all assets and utilize the information on how best to utilize existing assets, when to invest in new ones, and how to dispose of retired assets to maximize returns. Having to manage this manually can be prone to human errors and result in inefficiencies. 

An IT asset management software is a centralized platform for keeping track of all IT assets in real-time and providing insights to take action on business and operational needs. 

Here is how ITAM software can benefit your organization: 

1. Improve asset utilization with real-time data 

Organizations struggling with managing large databases of IT assets can leverage ITAM software to receive real-time information on any asset such as the asset model, serial number, purchase date, warranty information, and physical location. IT teams use unique identifiers or barcodes to label these hardware assets. ITAM software can scan these barcodes and stay updated on asset status and ownership. 

Discovery agents are deployed on computers and devices across the network that periodically collect hardware-related data, such as CPU, RAM, storage, and network configuration. Real-time asset information helps IT managers streamline processes such as asset tracking, custody, and maintenance. 

2. Stay compliant and reduce costs

For software assets, ITAM software often includes software discovery tools that can scan networked devices to identify installed softwares. These tools collect information on the software name, version, installation date, and license key. 

ITAM software also sends alerts for renewal of softwares. IT admins can stay on top of renewal and extension dates so that the software is timely updated and operations run smoothly. 

Many departments may use multiple software tool subscriptions that provide identical services. IT admins have to manage various vendor contracts at different prices that increase total software spending costs. Having visibility into redundant software purchases can help negotiate better prices with one vendor. 

3. Increased productivity 

Organizations invest thousands of dollars into acquiring IT assets. They aim to manage these assets efficiently to prolong their use and get maximum value.

Advanced asset tracking

Employees can easily find software they need or quickly identify available hardware for new projects when they use centralized ITAM software. This reduces the amount of time spent looking for resources and ultimately increases productivity across the organization.

4.  Control asset loss and theft

With robust asset tracking methods, IT managers can prevent asset theft and loss. Any IT device that is checked out can be accurately tracked in the software. If the device is not checked in by the user, then managers can easily retrieve asset and location details from the ITAM system and prevent device loss or theft. 

IT managers also ensure custody verification of IT devices. The users verify the possession of IT devices that serve as proof that they own the device. The ITAM process helps managers improve accountability with custodianship reports that provide asset checkout details and user acknowledgment on device custody. This helps enhance the traceability of assets across the organization and reduce the number of missing or stolen assets. 

5. Resolve issues faster with integrated ITSM tools

ITAM tools integrated with ITSM solutions such as help desk and service management software help with change, incident, and problem management. This enables teams to respond to changes and incidents proactively.

Factors to consider when choosing an IT asset management tool 

Every organization has different requirements for choosing an IT asset management tool. An ITAM solution enables IT asset managers to do their jobs more efficiently and lower expenses. Here are some factors that can help you choose better: 

1. Cost 

Organizations aim to invest in software that reduces operational costs while also maximizing returns. They optimize spending by relying on software, infrastructure, and platform services.

Deciding on which software package to buy requires in-depth analysis. IT managers fully need to understand each package, and features offered and ask for pricing. This helps decide whether organizational needs are met and whether the package is the best buy within the allocated budget. Free trials are an option that’s open for all packages before deciding to buy. Using the software firsthand can resolve queries and decide better. 

Ease of use and a customized dashboard

2. Tailored to specific processes

Consider an ITAM tool that allows you to customize fields, workflows, and reports that align precisely with your specific processes and requirements.

For example, the software deployment process may require multiple approvals before it is installed on employee devices. ITAM software can help set approval workflows at each stage, notify relevant stakeholders when action is required, and enable reports that track the progress of software deployments. 

3. IT infrastructure is constantly evolving   

Assets are always on the move with changing stages, custody, or locations. 

Keeping accurate track and also ensuring no thefts and losses can be overwhelming if the right software is not in place. Dealing with thousands of IT assets with each to be catered according to what lifecycle stage they are in, can be chaotic and time-consuming. 

Ensure the ITAM tool scales as your organization grows and IT asset inventory expands. It should smoothly manage additional assets, users, and features required without frequent upgrades.

Implementing the right IT asset management tool provides better visibility into existing inventory, robust asset monitoring, simplified operations, and improved equipment lifetime. This benefits your organization by reducing costs, improving employee accountability, and easily growing business and IT operations simultaneously.

Frequently asked questions

1. What is the lifecycle of an IT asset?

The lifecycle consists of the stages an asset goes through from provisioning, and operations, to retirement.

2. What is the role of an IT asset manager?

The main responsibility of an IT asset manager is to keep a detailed inventory of a company’s hardware and software assets and use this information to make strategic decisions regarding the use of these assets.

3. What role does technology play in IT asset management?

Asset management heavily relies on technology, which includes Internet of Things (IoT) devices, data analytics tools, and asset tracking software. Organizations now have access to data-driven insights, predictive maintenance plans, and real-time monitoring capabilities due to technological advancements.

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