IT asset management (ITAM) is a set of practices and strategies to help manage and optimize a company’s IT systems, processes, data and hardware. The discipline is designed to help IT departments determine whether their technology assets require optimization, upgrading or replacement. ITAM can also provide insights into alternative products or components that have lower costs, longer lifecycles and potentially more overall efficacy.
ITAM typically involves creation of a detailed, up-to-date inventory of an organization’s IT assets (any company-owned information, system or hardware), and then leveraging that information to drive any IT-related decisions. The underlying concept is that smart planning leads to a reduction in waste and unnecessary risk.
It’s important to understand that ITAM is a process, not a project. It’s proactive, rather than reactive. Many organizations still only fully implement asset management practices when a particular situation calls for it. Once the issue is resolved, they revert to old ways or inaction until the next problem arises. Technology is a significant investment for every company — and the management of technology should be as well.
ITAM comes with its own set of challenges, but there are several best practices that help to establish an effective framework. These include:
1. Conduct an asset discovery.
Create a complete inventory to gain visibility into all the IT assets that exist within the organizational IT landscape – network, data center, remote sites, user workstations, etc. Determine areas of asset management, with the most typical being:
- Hardware & software
- Network & communications infrastructure, servers & applications
- Mobile devices
- Cloud assets
2. Prioritize critical IT assets.
Not all IT assets are created equally. First determine what constitutes a critical asset. It may be a specific type of hardware. It may be certain software titles. Some assets will require more oversight or management than others, and this should be reflected in your ITAM efforts.
3. Manage your software licenses.
This is a time-consuming, but necessary, process. Under-compliance puts companies at risk of heavy penalties, and over-compliance forces companies to take on unnecessary costs. One key point to keep in mind in software audits is to know what you are entitled to have deployed. More often than not, organizations fall short in their software audits for failing to take that step.
4. Determine the metrics that really matter.
In addition to general information – including vendors; network configuration data; locations; user info; licensing; purchase and disposal info – and financial information, the key metrics related to your objectives should be identified for reporting. For instance, if the goal is to improve purchasing decisions, then track metrics such as asset depreciation rate, average maintenance cost and average lease violation fines paid.
5. Track on a continuous basis.
Remember that ITAM is not a one-and-done project; it is an ongoing process. Be diligent in setting up reporting processes, and be consistent in executing on them. Ensuring access to upcoming product / component EOL dates is also critical in order to plan ahead for potential replacements, transitions and supply changes that may have to occur.
6. Automate, outsource, or both.
From patching to application deployment to reporting, there are many opportunities to automate, by adopting electronic ITAM platforms that will free up your team’s time and available resources. Depending on the scale of your organization, you may also benefit from outsourcing your asset and lifecycle management needs to ensure full compliance as well as cost effectiveness, without the hassle.
7. Allow for change implementation.
Given that IT is an ever-changing industry, a key factor of success is agility. Your business should be continuously updating its asset database. It is not sufficient simply to track and measure metrics; your organization must be prepared to respond to changes accordingly.
One final thing to remember is why you’re adopting ITAM in the first place. The big picture goal is to ensure that the use of your technology assets generates business value and to mitigate IT risks to the best of your organization’s ability. Consistent evaluation of your organization’s assets will help keep the company informed on where you can maximize the lifespan of a product/component; streamline change management; prepare for product obsolescence; create a plan for product transitions; mitigate supply chain disruptions and more. ITAM requires a commitment to continuous improvement.