21st July, 2021
Are you getting a good return on the IT assets of the organization? Even an experienced IT head can't give a straightforward answer to this question.
IT Asset Management (ITAM) is usually ignored by CEOs and senior executives until something terrible happens within the organization.
Whether you are a startup that has just set their IT assets or an already grown enterprise that comprises plenty, you need to manage and monitor the IT assets to know whether it brings returns.
Needless to say, within an organization, it is required to keep track of assets—from maintaining information and data to cost, hours, and productivity—to increase efficiency and manage the entire operation process better.
In this post, we've discussed IT asset management, its types, benefits, processes, and best practices.
Let's get started.
ITAM can be defined as the process of managing the lifecycle of an organization's IT assets. It ensures that all the assets within an organization are accounted for, deployed, maintained, upgraded, and terminated correctly.
It ensures all IT assets in your organization are tracked and being used wisely.
ITAM gives you a holistic view of the organization while identifying the gap, efficiencies, and inefficiencies of IT, HR, operations, project management, service-oriented functions, and cybersecurity.
IT Asset Management is a critical activity that includes overseeing, managing and optimizing company-owned IT systems, hardware, processes, and data.
1. Hardware Management: It includes the management of hardware like laptops, PCs, printers, copiers, and any other device used in data management. Hardware asset management includes providing maintenance, repair, reducing system downtime, reboots, problem troubleshooting, and cutting shutdowns.
2. Software Management
Software must be carefully selected and maintained as there are compliance issues and licensing requirements. If left neglected, expired licenses and non-compliant software can cause hefty fines and lawsuits against a company. The software asset management tool helps you know when to renew licenses, upgrade tiers, uninstall obsolete software, safeguard the assets, and maintain business demand.
3. Cloud Management: Cloud Management
Cloud has captured almost every nook and corner of a business. Unlike on-prem, cloud applications are easy to deploy, which means that any employee can procure a SaaS app in no time and start using it.
Though the employee’s intent is to increase their productivity, there will be plenty of applications with the same use case or different departments procure the same app causing app duplication.
It not only causes wastage of resources and money but results in shadow IT too. ITAM practices can also secure your SaaS landscape by alerting you of malicious actors and eliminate wastage by constantly monitoring the applications. It alerts you on redundant and unused applications, which you can downsize and shape your SaaS stack.
4. Managing Mobile Devices and Digital Data
Whichever industry you are in, mobile devices play an important role in the field than your so-called laptops or tablets.
Employees tend to download all kinds of applications on their official mobile, causing a threat to your critical information.
Even the beneficial apps they download must be reviewed and approved to make sure it follows the norms of your IT policy.
Companies spend millions of dollars on IT operations many times without being able to track this spend.
So, companies of all sizes must optimize their IT assets.
If your organization has over 50 employees, you would own a lot of computer hardware, such as laptops, printers, etc.
To make sure they are in good condition, you need to know their exact numbers, who uses them, which department it is located in, and how old it is. Then only you can know when you should dispose of and buy a new one.
ITAM helps you streamline all your hardware asset management processes and helps you manage your infrastructure better.
It also allows you to manage your entire hardware assets lifecycle, from buying to disposal.
Find all the IT devices used within your organization
Track all your hardware devices across various locations
Record hardware asset specifications in the system
Track asset depreciation for timely disposal
Regular scan based audits to make it transparent and accountable
If you have a lot of hardware, then you have a lot of software to make them function. If you have plenty of software applications, you need to make sure you are implementing the secure ones to protect your organization from cyber threats.
Also, you need to check whether they are compliant or not to avoid non-compliance penalties during audits.
To make your company audit-ready, you must keep track of your assets, monitor their usage, and eliminate all unsecured software.
For that, you need to:
Have a centralized database for all your on-prem and SaaS applications
Reconcile the software and license data with auto or manual sync
Detect all the illegal, risky, and blacklisted software running in your organization
Manage all the payments and keep track of cost increase and decrease
Eliminate underutilized and unused applications
Run detailed license reports for all your software applications to detect if any gaps are present in the licensing framework
ITAM ensures you get the best value for all the licenses that you have bought.
IT downtime will cost your organization a whopping $5,600 per minute to $300k per hour. If you have an efficient ITAM solution, it offers you an automated incident management solution that helps you address this.
When you need to cross-reference your IT assets for issues, it can be a tiresome task. To make it easier and faster, you bring the issues to a single platform. ITAM software helps accomplish this by improving your ITSM workflows.
Most of the ITAM solutions available integrate with service desks like Zendesk and Jira, helping you reach out to service requests from one platform. This will increase the efficiency of ticket processing.
With complete visibility over your IT service landscape, you can resolve the issues faster and eliminate the bottlenecks for your IT teams.
It is a common practice for companies to track their IT inventory and purchases from different systems. So whoever has access to IT assets do not have access to service-level agreements and contracts. This makes it difficult for them to plan future renewals.
With an ITAM tool, you can get a comprehensive view of all your hardware and software assets through its integration with your procurement modules.
This way, you can strategize your planning and budget allocations and also place requests for new IT tools by the time it nears disposition.
With the inventory management module coupled with IT asset management software, you can:
Keep track of your IT inventory and manage stock quantities across different departments.
Keep a note on purchase orders, vendors, and procurement costs from a single space.
Know who's checking items in and out for increased accountability.
Find out the availability of IT assets to eliminate excess booking and stockouts.
Reserve IT assets way prior for streamlined future checkouts.
When you have hundreds of applications, you can't manually keep note of their renewal dates, upgrade versions, and other important information. You can use ITAM software to keep an eye on software used to make data-driven decisions about your IT procurements.
If you have a comprehensive ITAM tool, you can:
Get detailed reports on hardware and software usage
Schedule notifications for employees when there is an update or renewal
Track key performance indicators
Managing IT assets helps you keep your software updated, maintain compliance standards, cut costs, avoid fines, and make timely decisions.
Till now, you have understood how to optimize your IT assets. Now, you may wonder, how is it related to ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library)?
ITIL offers input for process improvements and solves service delivery issues.
ITIL processes are supported by Service Asset and Configuration Management (SACM) to get information about service assets and configuration items, and it establishes relationships that make up an organization's infrastructure.
There is a difference between 'ITAM' and 'SACM' regarding asset management under the ITIL framework.
Basically, ITAM identifies the assets you own, whereas SACM informs you about how the assets are connected to deliver value to your business.
The majority of organizations either manage a part of an IT asset or ignore it completely. Many only take care of physical office inventory or audit their software licensing.
Organizations see it as a non-essential activity, which is not the case. If you also think so or need helps to convince your senior management, consider this:
Maintain Regulatory Compliance: When it comes to managing IT compliance, there is a large number of industry regulations present that are difficult to follow without a proper asset management process. The EU has GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).
A part of it gives data subjects the right to be forgotten. If you don't have a broader view of your assets, how would you be sure that you have removed data about a person? What if there is a backup? Or an asset with the data you should have deleted? If you are caught for compliance violations, you can land up in jail and have to pay expensive fines.
Control IT Costs: According to a Gartner report, 70% of organizations have 30% discrepancies between the inventory they planned and what they have.
ITAM can forecast your IT spending, allowing you time to look for remedies to come up with a better and more cost-effective IT budget for your organization.
ITAM reports forecasts and budgets for the next quarter based on the current usage of IT assets. It gives you multiple perspectives regarding a company's financial health, set realistic budgets, and cut costs; otherwise, guesses about IT spending will affect your company's future.
By knowing what is exactly there, you can know your needs and can lie in a strong position during negotiation time with hardware and software vendors.
Also, when you know the usage of your hardware and software assets, you will be able to differentiate unused and underutilized assets that need to be disposed of.
ITAM manages the product's lifecycle (software or hardware) and ensures how assets are being used so that no equipment remains idle.
This not only saves cost on maintenance but also reduces unnecessary purchases and payments made due to ignorance of warranty status.
Enhanced Security: How to keep track of what your employees are downloading or sharing?
The ITAM program increases security and decreases risk.
Discovering what's present in your inventory is a tiring and time-consuming task. Only when you leverage the discovery data can you come up with the fundamental points for implementing security measures.
With this information at your fingertips, you learn where your organization is safe or needs a strong ground on cybersecurity.
When you find out about the assets, software installation, and IT-specific information, your IT security team can use it to assess security threats and vulnerabilities and respond to security incidents. All that can be found only if there is complete visibility.
If you make ITAM a key process of your IT security, you can discover all the new devices that enter your organization and get a record of all the hardware and software assets across your IT environment.
ITAM is playing a leadership role within the current remote and hybrid environment post-pandemic.
When CIOs and IT departments are completely unaware of what's happening behind the scenes, ITAM plays its role and discovers all the assets that employees are using and also shouts out loud about the vulnerabilities present in particular hardware or software.
Replace or Re-deploy Assets: ITAM allows you to identify underutilized IT assets. For example, it can help you discover a piece of hardware that is not performing the way it should be, and it is hindering productivity and costing you money.
So you can remove this hardware or shift it to some other location/office where it can be used.
Automated Lifecycle Management of IT Assets: Be it hardware or software, there is a time frame for their replacement or disposal. You need to monitor their depreciation rate and manage it thoroughly.
With an ITAM tool, you can keep track of the date an asset is procured, its usage and the usage time, and also the depreciation rate in the case of hardware.
It provides the current state of an asset, helps track the updates, maintenance, and security requirements. It helps you keep track of renewals. With SaaS applications flooding the IT landscape, it is impossible to do all these manually in spreadsheets.
An ITAM tool also helps businesses manage their software license compliance and manage warranties on hardware assets. It gives IT administrators an idea about how long a software has been functioning and whether the operating system is up to date.
Greater Asset Visibility and Increased Accountability: With ITAM software can help you accurately identify the IT assets.
It can give your organization a bird's eye view of your inventory—its volume, the kind of assets you own, etc.—making your budget planning easy.
Also, knowing what the IT assets that exist in your organization are, paves the way to improve your infrastructure and performance, eliminating the overhead expenses.
If you have a precise record of your IT assets, you can resolve the pending issues more quickly and efficiently. It can reduce your system downtime and productivity loss.
Stolen assets are not uncommon in organizations today. According to a report by the International Foundation for Protection Officers, employee theft costs nearly over $50 billion annually.
As organizations grow, the cost incurred due to thefts also increases. An ITAM solution can keep the relevant asset managers updated on the asset assignments passed among employees. They can also easily locate missing assets that were not reported and checked in back by users.
With traceability and accountability, you can find whether any employee owns an unauthorized IT device or has signed for an application without IT consent. It also identifies the areas where there are access violations, thus boosting your data security.
While we can not predict what the global business environment will become in five years, within an organization, ITAM can enable digital transformation while controlling costs and managing new risks.
The need for SaaS is increasing as the world quickly transitions into a work-from-home set-up due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It means that assets and employees are not at one location (in the office) but are dispersed. The pandemic is still not over, and the business environment continues to evolve.
Organization leaders and ITAM managers have to look at ways to simplify asset onboarding, IT service delivery, and procurement to reduce cost and improve inefficiencies.
The pandemic has given organizations the opportunity to test all kinds of workforce that hasn't been tried before. Remote and Hybrid!
It has shown us that the combination of software assets and the cloud can offer a new value proposition for CIO's who are seeking to optimize their hybrid IT workforce.
The end result offers a platform of technological intelligence that enables customers to optimize their spending, manage risks and adapt software and hardware to meet their needs.
With digital transformation measures taking peak after COVID-19, the organization's job is to find the right combination of hardware and software to get the benefits as marketed by the supplier (speed, agility, and cost control which will also help in quicker delivery).
This is specifically reflected in how organizations select vendors, renewal, and repurchase after the pandemic.
Companies have always had the plan to develop a centralized system to manage IT assets, including customer and employee data. Though that kind of accurate system is not feasible, a robust ITAM tool can help you have control over your IT environment by managing your tech budgets, user data, utilization reports of hardware and software, and all the information regarding the company's IT assets.
The International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers (IAITAM) is an independent institution that offers all documentation on ITAM to guide organizations in the asset management process. There are 12 key processes for ITAM, according to the IAITAM library.
Program Process: By centralizing and integrating IT asset management, organizations can develop an ongoing program to support all relevant IT activities in the organization.
Program Management: ITAM programs to be well organized and meet the requirements of the IAITAM Best Practice BluePrint. The BluePrint helps guide organizations through the process of establishing an ITAM strategy.
Policy Management: In order to reduce ambiguity, all policies must be defined and enforced for this initiative as well as the assets themselves. These policies must be clear and accessible to anyone involved in the initiative.
Communication and Education Management: ITAM's stance is only as strong as the surrounding culture of the organization. No matter how great a company's policies are, they will be ineffectual without proper implementation and education.
Project Management: Organizations require strong project management for ITAM to be effective. This helps with making sure projects are organized, efficient, and the necessary resources can be pulled together to deploy and maintain IT assets.
Documentation Management: A list of all the relevant documentation for your IT asset over its lifetime needs to be maintained. This includes proof of purchase, software licenses, and certificates of authenticity.
Financial Management: There is a strong consensus that financial IT asset management is decisive for the success of ITAM programs. It can be used for invoicing reconciliation as well as budgeting, according to the IAITAM. A successful ITAM strategy depends on a disciplined focus on budgeting, fixed asset reconciliation, chargeback, invoice reconciliation, forecasting, financial audit preparation, and billing.
Compliance and Legislation: It's important for your ITAM strategy to be cautious; organizations must always have a plan B for a potential audit. This process area will help you meet compliance regulations and establish a mindset for remedying any non-compliance issues.
Vendor Management: Establishing a formalized way of communicating with third-party vendors is an essential part of ITAM. The IAITAM recommends acquiring a library of interactions to be used when emailing or calling third-party vendors.
Acquisition Management: You need to have a complete understanding of policies, standards, and processes before you deploy your IT assets
Asset Identification: You'll need to identify and locate every single IT asset first and then have it placed inside an Asset Management System that makes retrieving assets seamlessly.
Disposal Management: Your organization might find it necessary to dispose of old IT assets at some point. When this is the case, you need a strategy for considering backups, relocating software, managing data, information security, and mitigating any risks associated with disposal.
You can segregate the unused and underutilized applications
ITAM can harness the power of trustworthy data to make strategic decisions that propel your IT department's success. These are the latest best practices.
Keep track of IT assets spending across business units, teams, and employees. Installing a cloud-based IT tracking system will allow the organization to get detailed insight into assets. Prepare a report on all IT spending by departments and categories.
Ensure your monitoring software is immediately added to newly procured devices to ensure nothing gets lost.
Understand which employees/teams are wasting licenses. IT asset management needs to look for all potential possibilities in reusing and remarketing the existing IT assets and then evaluating the IT asset.
Identify employees/teams and train them about critical applications for your business to get a solid understanding of the app's usage.
Linking IT management and procurement will allow you to work smarter and faster and helps to streamline the lifecycle of all IT assets. Before making any purchase, the procurement department can check the asset records to ensure that duplicate assets or licenses are not lying around.
A decentralized SaaS (Software as a Service) app can save you time and money by distributing the ownerships to department or business unit heads.
The IT department should do an audit every six months to ensure all the IT inventory is being utilized effectively.
The procurement process to buy IT assets should be well defined. The process should include how employees can request new software, security and legal issues, ownership, who and how many will use the tool, and who'll negotiate price and contract terms.
The International Standards Organization (ISO) has established an official set of standards for ITAM.
This framework of ITAM processes, known as ISO/IEC 19770, enables organizations to set requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and improving IT assets.
This standard includes five significant parts and was recently updated in 2017.
A- ISO/IEC 19770-1: This framework outlines the best practices for ITAM and ensures that the company follows corporate governance requirements.
B- ISO/IEC 19770-2: This is a data standard that deals with software identification. It allows organizations to identify software that is deployed on a given device.
C- ISO/IEC 19770-3: This is a data standard that deals with detailing the entitlements and rights associated with a piece of software.
D- ISO/IEC 19770-4: While managing complex data center licenses and managing cloud-based software, this measurement standard gives standardized resource utilization reporting.
E-ISO/IEC 19770-5: This framework offers an overview of the ISO-defined ITAM standards and associated vocabulary.