Organizations have evolved 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 the practice of tracking and managing an organization’s entire IT assets throughout their lifecycle. These assets are categorized into hardware assets (computers, laptops), software licenses, and network assets (servers, routers). The core functions of IT asset management include:
- Creating and maintaining an inventory of IT assets to keep accurate records of their current location, status, and ownership details.
- Managing asset lifecycle from procurement, deployment, maintenance, and disposal to help organizations extract maximum value from their investments.
- Track software license usage, renewals, and updates to ensure the software in use is within the terms of its licenses.
In the IT asset management process, IT managers first assign tags to assets and then maintain a record of each hardware device 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 assets 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.
Efficiently managing and properly maintaining assets can help organizations reduce overhead costs and prevent any major breakdowns. Accordingly, well-maintained or high-performing assets can be used longer and reduce asset repair or replacement expenditures for the organization.
IT asset management also helps manage the software installed on IT devices. Software audits are performed to assess the organization’s software and adhere to their required standards and regulations. If the organization fails to comply with regulations, then this can lead to hefty fines and legal issues during audits.
ITAM helps organizations stay compliant with complete visibility into software usage and license management. 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 software licenses.
ITAM also tracks the number of licenses in use and the number of licenses purchased. This allows organizations to mitigate non-compliance risks by identifying over and under-utilized licenses. Overutilization can raise the need for additional licenses whereas underutilization can lead to discontinuing unused licenses. For example, a healthcare organization realized through IT asset management that they had many software licenses for a specific application that was not being used. Reallocating these licenses to where they can be used can help the organization save thousands of dollars in license renewal costs.
Organizations are involved in day-to-day strategic planning to achieve long-term goals. This can be disrupted if they forget to renew software licenses, upgrade to the latest version, or uninstall unused software. ITAM provides in-depth reports on crucial asset data that organizations can analyze to make smart decisions on asset investments, upgrades, and retirements.
Components of IT asset management:
Hardware asset management
Hardware assets include computers, laptops, keyboards, and other peripheral devices. ITAM manages the financial and physical aspects of these assets to help forecast future asset investments and maximize their value. Here’s how ITAM helps them achieve this:
- Financial: When any hardware asset is acquired, ITAM records asset details such as acquisition date, purchase cost, and vendor details. Based on asset usage, it also calculates depreciation so organizations are on top of when an asset is fully depreciated and needs to be replaced.
- Physical: ITAM uses various tracking methods such as barcodes or RFID tags to uniquely identify and label each asset. This helps organizations easily locate and monitor asset locations, status, and condition from the procurement to the disposal stage.
With robust asset tracking methods, IT managers can also prevent asset thefts and losses. Any IT device that is checked out to users can be managed in the software to keep track of user and device information. 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 are in ownership of 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.
Software asset management
An organization can use various software, including hybrid, on-premise, and cloud-based solutions. 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 earlier version is no longer usable as per agreement. The IT asset management tool can help IT managers set permission access so users can only download the latest version and also revoke access to stop downloading previous versions.
ITAM also helps manage relationships with software vendors. Each vendor has a separate set of policies in place for the software that they provide to the company. ITAM provides insight into vendor contracts and renewal dates, allowing organizations to meet regulations and avoid hefty fines during vendor audits.
Organizations can also optimize software spending with the help of IT asset management. They are able to identify which software is being underutilized and which is being overutilized. They can also assess how much is spent on software usage by each department, team, or an employee. Based on this data, the organization may evaluate and reallocate its current software inventory as well as remove unused software.
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, whether on-site or remote, uses their laptops to access and connect to company WIFI or printers safely. ITAM ensures they are provided with secure access when connecting to network assets.
It keeps track of who has requested access and allows users to 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.
Why do you need IT asset management software?
The goal of IT asset management is not only to keep track of all assets but also to utilize the information to make informed decisions 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 IT assets in real time and providing insightful analytics to make informed business decisions.
Here is how ITAM software can benefit your business:
1. Stay updated and get real-time information on assets
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 quickly provide asset details when needed.
The software also deploys software agents on computers and devices across the network. These agents 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. This increases the asset’s useful life, delays downtime, and prevents the organization from incurring high repair costs.
Accordingly, you can make smart decisions regarding the allocation or replacement of IT assets. Any asset that has completed its depreciated life and is no longer in optimal condition is also highlighted by the software so organizations can replace assets before operations are hindered.
2. Efficiently manage software assets
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 and extension of softwares. IT admins can stay on top of renewal and extension dates so that the software is timely updated without causing any hindrances in employee productivity.
3. Ensure software compliance and manage unused licenses
Organizations need to ensure that they are compliant with license agreements to avoid hefty fines during audits.
An organization may purchase 15 licenses for software but only install the software 10 times is underutilizing licenses. Similarly, the licenses used on more devices than the license terms specify can lead to overutilization. How can the organization keep track of the number of machines the software is installed on and their usage statistics?
An ITAM solution can provide alerts on over-licensing or under-licensing issues that help organizations eliminate costs by reallocating or revoking access to unused licenses.
Factors to consider when choosing an IT asset management tool
Every organization has different requirements when it comes to choosing an IT asset management tool. An ITAM solution enables IT asset managers to do their jobs more efficiently and lower expenses. Here is what you should look for in an IT asset management software.
1. Ease of use and a customized dashboard
Each organization has specific IT asset management needs that help them decide the right ITAM tool for their business. For example, the IT department wants the software to be intuitive and easy to understand so that it encourages easy adoption by other users. This is easier and faster when the ITAM solution offers simple account creation, an easy-to-read dashboard navigation menu, and 24/7 support.
Similarly, IT managers are also keen to analyze different key metrics per their organization’s strategy, for example, asset visibility, cost optimization, or compliance management. An ITAM solution provides a customized dashboard where users can view different KPIs based on their requirements. The users can also view important metrics in the form of charts and graphs on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis to make informed decisions.
2. Advanced asset tracking
Organizations invest thousands of dollars into acquiring IT assets. They aim to manage these assets efficiently to prolong use and maximize their value.
An ITAM solution offers robust asset and inventory management capabilities such as
- Configuration management database (CMDB): ITAM software provides in-depth visibility into how IT assets interact with other configuration items (CI) such as licenses, employees, and locations. This helps managers record, track, and edit relationships between IT assets and CIs that help ensure any changes or updates are properly documented and approved.
- Mobile accessibility: Several ITAM software offers mobile applications that provide convenience and flexibility to track assets from anywhere and anytime.
- Analytics and reporting: ITAM software provides reporting capabilities that allow managers to analyze asset performance, identify potential risks, and make informed decisions.
3. Integration capabilities
Some organizations also look for ITAM tools that can integrate with other essential IT systems and tools such as help desk software, procurement systems, and configuration management databases.
An organization can automate data updates between ITAM and other systems. For example, an asset acquired in ITAM is automatically reflected in the procurement system, saving time and effort for IT admins.
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 are the different types of IT assets that need to be managed in an organization?
Assets include infrastructure hardware, software, networking, and cloud devices.
2. What is the lifecycle of an IT asset?
The lifecycle consists of the stages an asset goes through from provisioning, and operations, to retirement.
3. 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.
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