IT Asset Management (ITAM) is the process of overseeing the complete lifecycle of an organization’s IT assets.
🕔 12m read
The number of tech tools we use in the workplace, whether it’s a new device or a software application, continues to grow. This applies across all functions of the business: HR, finance, marketing, etc. And as their own processes and challenges change, so too their technology. Previously, most IT assets are issued by IT teams, but as the workforce becomes more tech-savvy, non-IT functions are taking the lead in building their technologies. In fact, a recent Gartner survey revealed that 74% of tech purchases are funded by non-IT business units. Keeping track of all this can prove challenging.
But with an effective IT asset management process, enterprises can ensure that all technology in the organization is accounted for, used, and disposed of properly afterward. Whether it be a laptop or a software license subscription, a key goal of ITAM is optimizing the usage of the organization’s IT assets to maximize the value gained from them.
IT asset management is yet another practice specified in the ITIL framework and a key component in ensuring ITSM best practices in the business. Here’s a summary of ITAM’s advantages and what’s involved in this process.
What is an IT asset?
An IT asset is any piece of hardware, software, or information within the IT environment that is valuable to the business. In general terms, we consider something an asset when we believe it’s useful and can bring value. IT assets are exactly that to the business. When so much of our daily work hinges on technology, it’s essential organizations know what’s going on with them at all times.
Types of IT assets
There are different types of IT assets, and these are commonly categorized as the following:
These are any physical components, such as end-user devices (computers, laptops, mobiles), and data center hardware (servers, storage systems, security systems, etc).
These are any software or applications that are used in the organization. For example, applications that are on end-user devices, as well as their operating systems.
Tech vendors are increasingly providing services ‘in the cloud’ in the form of SaaS, IaaS, or PaaS.
These are any data or information that are valuable to the business. With tighter data regulations and increasing cyberattacks, it’s crucial that these assets are properly managed.
Benefits of IT asset management
Without a proper ITAM strategy, organizations attract a lot of risks: compliance issues, wasted resources, inaccurate information, and unnecessary spending. But when done well, ITAM can provide an organization with a multitude of benefits. Here are just a few of them:
• Full visibility of your IT environment
How could you maximize value from your tech capabilities when you don’t know they’re there? Effective ITAM enables you to see the different components of your IT infrastructure, making it easier to look for improvement opportunities.
• Cost savings
There’s often a difference between what IT assets an organization thinks they have versus what they actually have. This can lead to businesses having assets that aren’t being used or having unexpected costs for fixing a crucial asset that hasn’t been monitored properly. These instances can be reduced with ITAM, substantially saving businesses time and money.
• Better compliance
Compliance is a never-ending challenge for organizations, but IT asset management can make it easier. Knowing what assets you have, where they are, how they’re used, and in what conditions they’re in will facilitate organizations with their contractual, regulatory, and legislative obligations.
• Prevents the loss of assets
A good ITAM process means being able to track assets in real-time, so you know where they are at any time. Any unnatural activities, whether it’s service downtime or missing devices, can be easily flagged up and followed through to be resolved, minimizing the risk of losing valuable IT assets.
• Prolonged asset life
Keeping a close eye on all crucial IT assets means that you’ll be able to effectively plan for the various stages of the asset lifecycle like maintenance. This will help keep your assets in good condition for a long time, enabling you to extract the maximum value out of them.
• More sustainable
Organizations are rightly exploring how they can make their business more sustainable. A good ITAM process can help towards that, as it makes it easier for companies to minimize waste and optimize the use of resources.
Types of IT asset management
IT asset management covers a broad range of practices, each one related to the type of asset that needs to be managed.
• Hardware asset management
This handles the lifecycle and upkeep of hardware assets, such as end-user devices, servers, and office equipment like printers.
• Software asset management
Software asset management ensures organizations fulfill compliance and licensing requirements. This involves monitoring the status of purchased licenses, planning for future payments or upgrades, and ensuring existing licenses are being put to good use.
• Cloud asset management
This ensures any cloud-based assets are secure and robust so that they are suitable for compliance requirements. This process also covers optimizing existing assets in the cloud to improve efficiency.
• Digital asset management
Digital asset management oversees business-related data and information. This also includes any media used by the organization, such as photos, videos, or audio.
• Mobile asset management
As more organizations issue mobile devices to their workforce, it’s essential that these assets are tracked and used in a way that aligns with the business objectives.
IT asset management lifecycle
The IT asset management lifecycle is composed of the different stages an IT asset goes through as it progresses along its useful life in the organization. To create a great ITAM strategy, understanding these different lifecycle stages is crucial.
It’s understandable to think that an IT asset’s lifecycle starts with procurement, but actually the planning stage is a key step for effective IT asset management. Before adding another asset to the system, it’s important to identify what is needed, how much, and why. This helps eliminate any waste from the get-go, ensures that assets are being acquired with clear intentions, and are in line with the organization’s goals and priorities.
Once the need for an asset is established, this is the stage at which it is then acquired. With a detailed wish list in hand, procurement teams go out to vendors, find suitable assets, and negotiate purchases.
After this is done and the asset is issued, it can be recorded and added to the organization’s asset database for easy tracking as it goes through its lifecycle.
3. Operation and Maintenance
This is the longest stage of the IT asset management lifecycle, where the deployed asset is used for its intended purpose. This is where you would be able to see the ROI of your asset purchase. Tracking performance, making updates/upgrades, and repairing the asset all take place at this stage.
To maximize use and prolong asset life, it’s important that routine checks and maintenance are carried out to ensure it’s in good working order.
At some point though, there will come a time when you’ll need to retire an asset. This can be due to typical wear-and-tear or outdated systems, or you find that your organization’s way of working has outgrown the asset.
Having a good process in place for disposal ensures that removing an asset from your infrastructure doesn’t cause any negative impact on your operations, such as attracting compliance risks or losing crucial information that should’ve been backed up first.
The IT asset management lifecycle provides a clear structure of your IT assets’ time within the organization, allowing a full view of where you can cut waste and improve overall efficiency.
What’s the difference between ITAM and CMDB?
ITAM and CMDB seem very similar, especially as they can be seen often associated with each other. And with the many acronyms in the industry, it’s not surprising to get the two confused. But while there may be overlaps, they have different practices and functions.
ITAM (IT Asset Management) keeps track of all IT assets and where they are in the asset lifecycle. The ITAM approach is often from the organization’s financial perspective. Cost of ownership, license expirations, and length of warranties are just some of the considerations addressed in ITAM.
CMDB (Configuration Management Database) is the collection of information on configuration items (CIs). A configuration item is anything necessary to run and deliver an IT service. The CMDB is a tool used for Configuration Management, which is the process of ensuring all necessary components for the day-to-day operations of IT services run smoothly.
While all CIs can be considered assets, not all assets are CIs. Due to this, some organizations use CMDBs as part of their IT asset management, while others practice configuration management without ITAM.
Best practices for IT asset management
To reap all the benefits IT asset management offers, there are some key practices you’d need to incorporate into your processes. It’s not so much as getting everything perfect on the first attempt, but more about making those incremental, sustainable changes that greatly improve your management process in the long run.
• Don’t do it all at once
One sure way to overwhelm your IT team is attempting to build a complete IT asset record in one go. With the large number of components making up an organization’s IT infrastructure, it can look like an impossible task to undertake. It’s essential that you focus on starting with identifying your critical assets and prioritizing the processes that can create the greatest positive impact.
• Follow the lifecycle
When it comes to ITAM, simple is best. Using the asset lifecycle as the basis of your asset management makes it easier to understand the tasks involved and track what needs to be tracked, e.g., software licenses, maintenance schedules, etc.
• Automate repetitive tasks
For effective ITAM, automation is the way to go. From discovery to reporting, automating repetitive tasks help ensure that key processes are being completed while freeing up your IT team’s time for more complex or strategy-focused activities.
• Tie in with other ITIL processes
IT asset management can provide key information for the effective execution of other ITIL processes like incident management, problem management, and change management. So, keeping the other processes in mind while planning out your ITAM strategy can contribute to seamless IT service management.
• Create a formal process for retiring/disposing of assets
We understand that planning for the acquisition and deployment of assets is crucial, but retirement and disposal should receive the same amount of attention. Structuring the way you decommission assets not only helps you maximize usage but also protects you from any compliance liabilities, e.g., due to improperly retired devices containing sensitive information.
IT Asset Management Certifications and Training
If you’re looking to offer ITAM-specific training to your IT team members, there are various certifications and training courses available online and in-person. One of the most popular certification providers is the International Association of IT Asset Managers (IAITAM). Established in 2002, they provide various certification programs for different roles, areas, or levels of expertise.
- Certified Asset Management Professional (CAMP) – covers best practices of ITAM, the roles and responsibilities in ITAM, core functional areas, KPA indicators, strategic positioning, and how ITAM can be brought into other frameworks such as ITSM.
- Certified Hardware Asset Management Professional (CHAMP) – covers the lifecycle of IT hardware assets and business best practices in managing these assets.
- Certified Software Asset Manager (CSAM) – covers the best practices of software asset management that enable organizations to reduce risks, increase accountability, and uncover savings.
- Certified IT Asset Disposal (CITAD) – covers best practices in policy management, data security, and chain of custody transitioning.
- Certified Mobility Asset Management (CMAM) – covers best practices for mobile device management, sharing knowledge on personnel, policies, and processes relating to mobile device usage in the organization.
- The Certified IT Asset Manager (CITAM) – covers the core ITAM processes that can help organizations maximize the value of their IT assets.
- The Certified Asset Management Security Expert (CAMSE) – covers key information on IT security to help incorporate ITAM processes into an organization’s security initiatives and programs.
Features to look for in IT asset management tools
Based on the different processes and best practices we’ve discussed so far, it’s a given that IT asset management tools are beneficial in efficiently carrying out key ITAM processes. Regardless of your preference for a standalone ITAM solution or a complete integrated ITSM tool, there are some key features that are ideal for supporting your IT asset management.
• Integrated service catalog
A consumer-style service catalog makes it easier for end-users to request assets directly and easily track the progress of their request.
• Drag-and-drop workflows
Easy-to-create workflows ensure key activities aren’t missed and assets are delivered/deployed in a timely manner.
• Visual dashboards and automated alerts
You can track all assets and their status at a glance with dashboards that provide different views of your assets, whether that’s on hardware, software, compliance, security, and more. Automated alerts also help you stay informed in real-time, meaning you can quickly resolve any issues as soon as they come up.
• One-click audits
Simple auditing options that give you an instant view of software licenses, system updates, etc., take away the need for manual audits. This makes your compliance activities easier and quicker to do.
• Agent and agentless discovery
The combination of agent and agentless discovery means that you can have complete visibility of all your assets: hardware, software, and virtual.
• Mobile-friendly interface
Your ITAM tool should be flexible, and that applies to its accessibility too. A mobile app or mobile-friendly interface makes it easier for your IT team to access IT asset information on the go. Likewise, end-users can easily log an asset-related request from anywhere at any time, enhancing the experience for everyone involved.
Integrating ITAM and ITSM
Implementing ITAM and ITSM provide great value to an organization. But by aligning the processes, people, and technologies from the two practices, you can maximize the benefits they provide. It’s not surprising at all, as while different disciplines, activities in each one can create a big impact on the other. So, what are the key benefits of integrating the two?
• Breaks down operational silos
As mentioned in a previous section, ITAM is associated with other ITIL processes. Integrating ITAM and ITSM can help break down silos and create a more collaborative relationship between the two, resulting in smoother operations.
• Removes duplicated efforts
Due to the nature of these programs, there may be overlapping activities. Aligning the two together eliminate any duplicated efforts, saving you time and money.
• Covers each other’s weaknesses
By sharing knowledge and integrating activities of ITAM and ITSM teams, they can complement each other’s weaknesses with their strengths.
• Enables more efficient processes
By sharing infrastructure and data, you can run processes for both areas more effectively.
• Ensures data accuracy
Consolidating information and coordinating policies from both disciplines help improve the integrity of your data.
These are just some of the benefits you can experience with integrated ITSM and ITAM processes. IFS assyst’s integrated ITSM and ITAM solution can help you realize these advantages quickly. With the ability to visualize your complete asset data, along with powerful automation tools, IFS assyst takes the stress out of IT management.
If you’d like to learn more, why not get in touch to discover how we can assyst in your ITAM journey?