Asset Intelligence and Management

AssetSonar Blogs It Operations Management

IT Operations Management: Benefits and Best Practices for Law Enforcement Agencies

Law enforcement agencies operate in a high-stakes environment as they strive to protect the community every day. They need to maintain their high-value equipment to execute fast-paced operations. 

To achieve this, law enforcement agencies, such as police departments, need to invest in tools that effectively manage their software and hardware assets.

This includes solutions that streamline network and database management, help set up backup and recovery systems, and consistently monitor various IT operations. Accordingly, they can implement an IT operations management (ITOM) process, which is likely to help save time, effort, and resources. 

What is IT operations management (ITOM)?

IT operations management (ITOM) involves strategically managing, optimizing, and monitoring the overall IT environment to expedite administrative processes and the IT infrastructure.

ITOM and ITAM intertwine and support each other – providing a framework to organize agencies’ IT assets collectively. ITAM provides a comprehensive repository of agencies’ software and hardware assets leading to well-monitored and managed overall IT operations management.

What are the benefits of ITAM for streamlined ITOM? 

ITOM is a critical factor in developing and supporting the IT infrastructure of a business. It helps ensure that IT operations run smoothly and the business is able to deliver quality IT services. According to a report, the global market for IT operations and service management is likely to reach a compound aggregate growth rate of 7.5% – reaching approximately $35.98 billion by 2025. 

Let’s walk you through some advantages of using an ITAM solution to improve IT operations management of a law enforcement agency:

-> Audit-friendly system

An ITAM system allows agencies to conduct thorough audits of their digital assets to ensure tracking, timely developing an information security plan, and taking steps to meet the compliance protocols for hardware and software use.

This includes running checks during IT audits to determine the strength of the employed cybersecurity measures and flagging assets that might be vulnerable to cyber attacks. Doing so helps law enforcement agencies identify areas of non-compliance, and address them before they turn into hefty fines. 

With a modern ITAM solution, agencies can generate detailed and customized reports to have a visual representation of the asset data. These reports can be leveraged for analysis and made audit specific so the team has exactly what it needs.

-> Improved budget utilization

Operating in the public sector, law enforcement agencies are often faced with the problem of a limited budget to run their daily operations. They are funded through taxpayers money which necessitates accountability and transparency in the public eye. 

An ITAM solution allows agencies to make the best use of available resources by always staying on top of their digital assets data. The agency can record each asset-related expense in the asset register – making it easier for the agencies to justify the funds used. This visibility allows agencies to reduce unnecessary purchases and ensure that all assets are optimally utilized. 

For example, a police station is allotted a particular amount per quarter to run IT operations and invest in replacements and upgrades. With the help of an ITAM tool, the police officer can assess the assets requiring immediate servicing so they can prioritize their repair. 

This way, the operations manager can better plan the budget accounting for urgent repairs and assets nearing the end of their lifecycle. They can arrange replacements if needed, before incurring additional unnecessary  repair costs. 

-> Barcode tracking

Agencies normally manage sensitive assets like guns, pistols, body armor and high-end technological equipment. In law enforcement, following governmental regulation – such as labeling and tracking high-use assets –  while managing these assets is necessary to maintain the integrity and security of the department. 

A robust ITAM solution enables authorized officers to generate and assign barcodes to assets. These barcodes contain unique identifiers, such as asset identification numbers, that allow updating information in real-time by scanning.  As an officer scans a barcode, the system will display asset details immediately and allow them to take actions like checkin, checkout, and reserve. 

With barcodes, operations managers can track the movement of sensitive assets, manage their life-cycle and quantities, and track their custodians and locations. So, with barcodes, agencies can authenticate sensitive assets, check their custodians, and ensure their optimal allocation, preventing a halt or delay in operations. .

Additionally, documents related to public projects can be tagged so they can be traced at all times. This helps ensure the timely retrieval of critical documents when required. 

-> High-end security

Mission-critical and public security agencies are the most vulnerable to cyber attacks considering the criticality of the information they possess. Information regarding asset use, software deployment, or even official contracts is highly valuable for ransomware attackers. 

According to a source, a ransomware group launched an online attack on the Intelligence Agency in Peru – posing a serious threat to the police officers’ highly confidential personal information. Reportedly, 25% of cybersecurity attacks and 12% of data theft instances result from unauthorized user access.

Agencies can employ Agent – an asset discovery tool – that secures the endpoints, configures, and regularly syncs all devices installed on the agency’s networks. The Agent will help ensure that your network points are always protected through advanced encryption.

ITAM facilitates data encryption and password protection, so only authorized officers can log in. One time log-in codes can be generated to allow the relevant officer to authenticate the log-in. This level of protection secures access to prevent data from falling into the wrong hands and blocks unauthorized connections with the agency’s system. Likewise, only designated officers can conduct audits using the system so there are no discrepancies in the data recorded and safety risks are mitigated. 

Benefits of IT operations management

Why do law enforcement agencies need ITAM for optimized IT operations management? 

While law enforcement agencies remain hesitant to employ a technological solution to manage assets. As per a report, 75% of police forces manage their assets, applications and data in house; however, 88% look forward to investing in SaaS solutions. 

Agencies can leverage advanced functions of an ITAM system – inclusive of SaaS technology – like network discovery, endpoint management, change management, and deployment of devices to harness the full potential of ITOM. This includes developing an overview of an agency’s IT infrastructure, quickly identifying gaps in asset management, and making data-driven decisions. 

There are several ways, an ITAM system can help streamline law enforcement agencies’ daily operations, such as:

1. Location and resource management

Efficiently managing location and resource information can prevent agencies from losing track of their important assets and missing out on software updates.  

IT asset management system comes equipped with auto asset discovery that detects all the devices for which the discovery agent has been installed.

Given that a myriad of IT devices and software are a part of law enforcement agencies’ IT ecosystem – from patrol car computers to specialized forensic tools – having ITAM helps ensure that nothing is overlooked. 

Auto asset discovery can instantly detect any unauthorized or unfamiliar assets on the network, enabling swift action to mitigate potential threats. Not only do agencies have complete information about their assets this way, but they can tighten their security measures as well.

The location of each asset is automatically updated with every action, so agencies do not have to do that manually. 

Identifying the current usage status of your IT assets is another function auto discovery performs efficiently with the support of an ITAM system. ITAM platforms come with a built-in calendar that highlights the currently available IT assets and those in use so no asset is ever double booked. The calendar helps ensure that no IT asset is allocated to two different officers- helping improve resource allocation. 

These processes help streamline location management and save officers valuable time in finding where and how high-value assets are being used.

2. Third-party risk management

Agencies are increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks which necessitates adopting data security tools that can safeguard information critical to public safety. Cyber attacks could range from hacking attempts to retrieve official data – cyber espionage – to initiating ransomware attacks to tap into the legal systems. 

Law enforcement agencies have to maintain public trust – so any misuse or misplacement of data can be detrimental to the reputation of the agency. Likewise, mishandling data can result in legal consequences. These factors make it mandatory for agencies to adhere to industry rules and regulations.

Implementing third-party risk management practices enables law enforcement agencies to protect their system from external threats by mitigating risks associated with third-party providers, such as vendors and service providers. Risks increase when agencies fail to identify vendor vulnerabilities and faulty security controls.

An ITAM system leverages a discovery agent to detect the security controls of the purchased hardware or software. Such as assessing whether the hardware has a firewall installed, so in case of its absence, the IT team can take corrective action. 

ITAM facilitates Active Directory and third-party inventory so all the vendors’ data is kept in the system. For example, when an agency enters into a contract with a vendor regarding a software purchase, it can store the contract details in the ITAM system and categorize the contract based on its type. This helps develop better relationships with the vendors and ensure that the terms and conditions are signed before initiating business with them. This way, law enforcement agencies remain safe from vendor mismanagement and high-risk clauses.  

3. Software license management

Law enforcement agencies are especially liable for staying compliant with the license expiration dates. Using software beyond its expiration date can pose a serious risk to the reputation of the agencies. This includes spending thousands of dollars on software that remains unused. 

An ITAM system can help agencies manage their software licenses better and avoid legal consequences. The system can provide agencies an overview of the exact quantity and types of software used  along with their expiration dates to avoid over-purchasing or under-purchasing. They can also assess underused or unneeded software and revoke their access to avoid paying extra – saving substantial costs. 

Additionally, agencies can run regular checks on their system, track access to any vulnerable or unsafe software and blacklist it immediately. This way, if someone tries to use any such software, the system will alert the high authorities enabling them to hold the user accountable and revoke their access. 

Software normalization is another way ITAM allows agencies to structure their software data. Agencies might employ several versions of the same software. Keeping separate records of each version can be tedious and confusing for the user. 

With ITAM’s software normalization capability, a standard record for each multi-versioned software can be created so all the versions can be tracked under their umbrella name – the base software. For example, an agency might have access to McAfee Antivirus software for both laptops and mobile devices. So, an agency’s IT manager can create a normalization with the base software ‘McAfee’ and include the two versions under it. 

This standardization helps prevent duplicate records, assign unique license numbers to each version, and easily update  information. 

4. Service ticketing

It is advisable for agencies to use a system that allows them to manage maintenance requests and access agency-wide data from one place.

An ITAM system allows integrations with ticketing systems like Zendesk and Jira that enable agencies to receive and resolve maintenance requests and link the tickets with the relevant IT assets for timely repair. 

An efficient ticketing system can handle dozens of requests every day for asset repairs, software updates, contract renewals, license upgrades, etc. The IT team can quickly respond to these requests and tag relevant assets from the system. They can also loop in the relevant departments by sending them emails, forwarding the requests, and responding to the requester with updates. 

For example, a router breaks down at the police station and the police officer initiates a request on Jira to repair the router. The IT team can pull up information regarding the router from the ITAM system and link it with the issued ticket for timely action. The router’s vendor can be updated instantly to initiate the repair process and this information can be communicated to police officers through the system.

This enhances issue resolution – helping agencies significantly reduce IT equipment downtime and streamline daily maintenance requests. 

The IT team does not have to refer to several, disconnected systems to retrieve asset details. IT teams can search for assets and their details from the ticketing system integrated with the ITAM system and take all actions from one place. 

5. Customized alerts and notifications

Setting up regular alerts is a useful way for agencies to stay updated with everyday happenings. 

Real-time email and in-app alerts help ensure that no important update ever goes unnoticed. Be it the procurement of new IT equipment, repair and maintenance of the existing one, or software updates – the agency officers are always informed. 

Alerts are especially useful for time-sensitive actions. For instance, when a software has reached its expiration date, a contract needs immediate renewal, or the quantity of an IT asset is falling below the required threshold. An ITAM system expedites the management of these actions since agencies never miss out on important updates. 

Alerts can be customized to each officer’s role or rank in the agency which can help maintain the confidentiality of information stored in the IT asset management system. This way, only the relevant people will be notified of the alerts – helping reduce unnecessary emails for others that could otherwise be time-consuming to check. 

In addition to this, notifications help agencies speed up the process of asset procurement. For example, if a traffic warden requires a new camera for speed monitoring, they can simply initiate an approval request on the platform for their branch chief. The chief will receive the approval request through a notification on their system making it easier for them to approve the request. Likewise, if the agency is hiring more officers, then the chief can hold alerts for them until they have been fully onboarded and introduced to the security protocols. 

This practice greatly helps prevent email overload and maintain the confidentiality of the agency’s internal data. 

What is the difference between ITOM and ITSM? 

ITOM and ITSM are two related concepts that help expedite IT operations. While ITOM is an umbrella term that involves overlooking the IT ecosystem, ITSM specifically relates to managing customer service requests – improving the efficiency of IT help desk staff. The following image explains the difference between the two:

Difference between ITAM and ITOM

Conclusion

As technology continues to evolve, law enforcement agencies have to stay updated with recent trends and practices.

 ITAM is a powerful tool that can support these agencies in executing optimized operations as it provides robust solutions to several administrative and technical needs of agencies. It helps mitigate security risks associated with external and internal contact and makes agencies’ IT asset information more streamlined and accessible. 

Conclusively, an ITAM platform not only reduces the burden of managing IT assets but also helps agencies maintain trust in the community by establishing transparency and accountability. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. What is an ITOM solution?

An ITOM solution could be any platform dedicated to track, monitor and organize the IT ecosystem and overall IT infrastructure. It helps businesses automate all aspects of IT asset management, such as checking in, checking out, reserving assets, managing software licenses and warranty expiration dates and deploying Agents to safeguard organizational  networks. 

2. What functions are a part of IT operations management (ITOM)?

ITOM comprises a wide range of functions that help businesses streamline their workflows and ensure the IT infrastructure functions at its optimal capacity. They key functions generally include: 

  • Software asset management 
  • Hardware asset management 
  • Risk management 
  • Vendor management 
  • Access management 

With the help of these functions, ITAM helps businesses support the overall IT infrastructure, ensure efficient IT services and improve everyday IT operations. 

3. What are some challenges involved in ITOM?

While implementing IT operations management, you can face considerable challenges that can reduce the visibility of assets and add to costs. Some challenges include security concerns, inability to protect asset information, inaccurate resource allocation, and identity management risks. An IT operations tool helps overcome these challenges through its advanced capabilities and features – enabling efficient and effective management of IT resources.