Getting more out of your tech with IT asset management
These days, a company’s data environment is made up of both physical assets — computers and storage centers — and non-physical ones — software and cloud-stored data, for instance. And despite their fundamental differences and (at times) seeming incompatibility, all of these assets need to work in tandem. Any break along the chain can cause significant downtime.
IT asset management is a massive, multifaceted job. Below, we’ll go over IT asset management in detail, introduce you to some common IT asset management tools, and discuss how to implement an IT asset management strategy for your clients.
What is IT asset management (ITAM)?
IT asset management (ITAM) is the process of managing and optimizing an organization's IT assets — that is, their hardware, software, and data. The goal of ITAM is to ensure that an organization's IT assets are utilized efficiently and effectively throughout their entire lifecycle, from acquisition to disposal.
ITAM involves tracking all IT assets, including:
- Network devices
- Software licenses
It also involves monitoring:
- Asset performance
- Maintenance schedules
- Warranty information
- Regulatory compliance
Managing IT assets helps identify redundant or underutilized assets, reducing costs associated with hardware and software acquisition, maintenance, and licensing. It also helps organizations to mitigate risks associated with cybersecurity and data privacy by ensuring that all IT assets are up to date with the latest security patches and software updates.
The benefits of IT asset management
IT asset management is a necessary area of focus for MSPs as well as internal IT asset managers. Any organization can benefit from effective ITAM.
ITAM reduces costs in a number of ways:
- Improved inventory management: By maintaining an accurate inventory of these assets, including hardware, software, and licenses, your teams can identify underutilized or redundant assets and eliminate them, thus saving costs on maintenance, licensing fees, and other associated expenses.
- Efficient software management: These tools can ensure that your clients are using software licenses efficiently, including identifying unused or underutilized software licenses and reallocating them to other users or teams. This can help avoid unnecessary software license purchases, which can result in significant cost savings.
- Contract management: By tracking contract expiration dates, ITAM tools can alert organizations to renegotiate or cancel contracts that are no longer needed, resulting in cost savings.
ITAM can also help organizations reduce their hardware expenses, specifically, in several ways:
- Asset lifecycle management: By tracking asset acquisition, deployment, and retirement, ITAM can help organizations plan their hardware purchases more efficiently and avoid unnecessary hardware purchases.
- Asset maintenance: By tracking maintenance schedules and ensuring that assets are properly maintained, ITAM can help organizations reduce the risk of asset failure or loss, thus avoiding costly repairs or replacements.
- Equipment sharing: ITAM suites help identify hardware assets that are underutilized and make them available for sharing. This can help reduce the need for additional hardware purchases and optimize asset utilization.
Avoiding IT-related penalties and fines
One of the significant benefits of ITAM is its ability to help MSPs and the organizations they serve avoid IT-related penalties and fines. Here are some ways ITAM can help in this regard:
- License compliance: By keeping track of software licenses and their usage, ITAM tools can help organizations avoid using more licenses than they have purchased and associated penalties.
- Security compliance: Effective IT asset management helps MSPs ensure that their clients’ IT assets are compliant with security regulations and standards. By tracking security patches and updates, ITAM tools can help organizations avoid security breaches and associated penalties.
- Data privacy compliance: ITAM can help organizations ensure that they comply with data privacy regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA by keeping track of data stored on IT assets.
- Audit preparation: Organizations must prepare for audits by providing a complete inventory of IT assets and their usage. Use of ITAM can help organizations avoid penalties for non-compliance from auditors.
Minimizing the risk of asset loss
ITAM can help organizations minimize the risk of asset loss by providing better visibility into the location and usage of their IT assets. Here are some ways this happens:
- Asset tracking: By using tools such as RFID tags and GPS tracking, ITAM can help organizations locate assets that have been misplaced, lost, or stolen. It also helps with asset auditing, which allows MSPs to track missing assets and recover them.
- Security management: By monitoring access to IT assets and ensuring that they are only accessible to authorized personnel, ITAM can help organizations prevent theft and unauthorized use of their IT assets.
- Maintenance management: By tracking maintenance schedules and ensuring that assets are properly maintained, ITAM can help organizations reduce the risk of asset failure or loss.
- Disaster recovery: These tools can help organizations prepare for disasters and recover from them. By maintaining an up-to-date inventory of IT assets and their configurations, ITAM can help organizations quickly recover lost or damaged assets in the event of a disaster.
The overall goal of ITAM is to streamline workflows of all types. Here's how that can be done.
Automating inventory and tracking
One of the key benefits of ITAM is the ability to automate inventory and tracking of IT assets. Here are some ways ITAM can help organizations in this regard:
- Automated asset discovery: Tools can automatically discover and inventory IT assets on the network, including servers, workstations, and network devices. This saves time and effort compared to manual asset discovery, and provides more accurate and up-to-date asset information.
- Asset tracking: This provides better visibility into the usage of IT assets, which can help organizations optimize utilization and identify potential security risks.
- Hardware and software inventory: ITAM tools can inventory both hardware and software assets, including their configurations and versions. This helps organizations identify redundant or outdated assets, and plan for hardware and software upgrades more effectively.
- Workflow automation: Often, ITAM tools can automate workflows related to IT asset management, such as procurement, deployment, and retirement. This saves time and effort compared to manual workflows, and ensures that IT assets are managed consistently and according to best practices.
Minimizing manual efforts and errors
ITAM can help organizations minimize manual efforts and errors in several ways. Here are some of the ways ITAM can help:
- Automated inventory: ITAM tools can automatically discover and inventory IT assets on the network, reducing the need for manual asset discovery. This helps save time and reduces the risk of errors that may occur when manually entering data into an asset management system.
- Centralized data management: These tools provide a centralized database for managing asset information. This eliminates the need for spreadsheets and manual tracking methods that are prone to errors, and provides a single source of truth for asset information.
Enhancing task management and prioritization
ITAM can enhance task management and prioritization in several ways:
- Task prioritization: This helps ensure that critical tasks are completed on time, and helps optimize resource allocation.
- Asset lifecycle management: By providing visibility into asset lifecycles, ITAM tools can help organizations prioritize tasks related to asset management, such as hardware and software upgrades, maintenance, and retirement.
- Asset utilization: This helps organizations prioritize tasks related to asset allocation, such as equipment sharing or hardware upgrades.
Optimizing technology investments
ITAM is key for the way in which MSPs optimize their clients’ tech investments. Let’s take a look at how.
Improving visibility into asset usage
ITAM can help organizations improve visibility into asset usage in several ways. Here are some of the benefits of ITAM in this regard:
- Usage reporting: This helps organizations identify opportunities to optimize asset utilization and reduce costs.
- License compliance: As mentioned, this helps organizations avoid penalties and fines associated with non-compliance and optimize software spending.
- Hardware utilization: ITAM solutions can help organizations optimize hardware utilization by tracking the usage of servers, storage devices, and other hardware assets. This helps organizations identify underutilized or redundant assets, which can be consolidated or retired to reduce costs.
- Asset analytics: ITAM tools can provide analytics on asset usage trends, which can help organizations make data-driven decisions about asset acquisition, deployment, and retirement. This helps organizations optimize resource allocation and reduce costs.
Analyzing asset lifecycles and patterns
ITAM can help organizations analyze asset lifecycles and patterns in several ways.
- Asset lifecycle analysis: This helps organizations understand asset usage patterns and identify opportunities to optimize asset utilization and reduce costs.
- Usage trends: This helps organizations understand how assets are being used and identify areas where improvements can be made to optimize asset utilization.
- Cost analysis: This helps organizations identify opportunities to reduce costs and optimize spending on IT assets.
- Asset depreciation: ITAM tools can track the depreciation of IT assets over time, providing insights into the expected lifespan of different types of assets. This helps organizations plan for asset replacements and retirements and avoid unexpected costs associated with asset failures.
- Capacity planning: Helps organizations optimize resource allocation and reduce the risk of unexpected capacity constraints.
Enabling better decision-making
ITAM can enable better decision-making in several ways. Here are some of the benefits of ITAM in this regard:
- Data-driven decision-making: ITAM tools provide organizations with real-time, accurate data about their IT assets, which can be used to make data-driven decisions. This helps organizations make more informed decisions about IT asset acquisition, deployment, and retirement.
- Risk management: By identifying potential risks, organizations can make better decisions about IT asset management and mitigate potential risks.
- Resource allocation: By optimizing resource allocation, organizations can make better decisions about IT asset deployment and utilization.
Types of IT asset management tools
ITAM doesn’t take any single form, and IT management tools can vary quite a bit.
Hardware and software asset management
Hardware and software asset management are two main types of ITAM tools that help organizations track and manage their hardware and software assets.
Hardware asset management tools provide organizations with a centralized database of all hardware assets, including servers, desktops, laptops, mobile devices, and networking equipment. These tools track the location, usage, maintenance history, and other relevant information for each hardware asset. With this information, organizations can optimize asset utilization, reduce costs, and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.
Similarly, software asset management tools are designed to help businesses manage their software licenses and usage. These tools can help businesses to track the installation and usage of their software, and to ensure compliance with licensing agreements.
Digital asset management
Digital asset management (DAM) is a type of ITAM tool that helps organizations track and manage their digital assets, such as images, videos, audio files, documents, and presentations. DAM tools provide a centralized database of all digital assets and their associated metadata, enabling organizations to easily search, retrieve, and share digital assets.
Here are some of the key features of digital asset management ITAM tools:
- Metadata management: These tools can manage metadata associated with digital assets, including title, description, keywords, and copyright information.
- Version control: DAM tools can track and manage different versions of digital assets, ensuring that users have access to the latest version of an asset.
- Search and retrieval: These tools provide advanced search capabilities, enabling users to easily search for and retrieve digital assets.
- Collaboration: DAM tools enable teams to collaborate on digital assets, allowing them to share, review, and approve assets.
- Brand management: These tools can ensure consistency and compliance with brand guidelines by managing brand assets, such as logos and colors.
- Reporting: DAM tools can generate reports on asset usage, performance, and ROI, providing insights into the effectiveness of digital assets and enabling organizations to optimize asset utilization.
Cloud asset management
Cloud asset management is a type of ITAM tool that helps organizations track and manage their cloud-based assets, such as software as a service (SaaS) applications, platform as a service (PaaS) solutions, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) resources, and other cloud-based services.
Here are some of the key features of cloud asset management ITAM tools:
- Cost management: These tools can help organizations optimize their cloud spending by tracking and managing cloud service usage and costs.
- Security and compliance management: Cloud asset management tools can help organizations ensure that their cloud-based assets are secure and compliant with regulatory requirements.
- Performance monitoring: These tools can monitor and report on the performance of cloud-based assets, providing insights into usage patterns, performance trends, and potential issues.
- Automation: Cloud asset management tools can automate cloud-based asset provisioning, deployment, and configuration, helping organizations reduce manual efforts and errors.
How to implement IT asset management in your organization
Ready to implement an ITAM protocol for your client? Here are some IT asset management best practices to bear in mind:
- Define the scope and objectives: Start by defining the scope of your IT asset management initiative and the objectives you want to achieve. Determine which assets you want to manage and what outcomes you want to achieve, such as reducing costs, improving asset utilization, and mitigating risks.
- Create an inventory of your assets: Develop an inventory of all your client’s IT assets, including hardware, software, and cloud-based assets. This should include information such as asset type, location, owner, and purchase date.
- Assign ownership: Assign ownership of each asset to a specific individual or team. This will help ensure that each asset is properly managed and maintained throughout its lifecycle.
- Develop asset management policies and procedures: Develop policies and procedures for managing your IT assets. These should cover topics such as asset acquisition, tracking, disposal, and security.
- Choose an IT asset management tool: Choose an IT asset management tool that meets your organization's needs and budget. Consider factors such as the types of assets you want to manage, the size of your organization, and the level of automation and integration you require.
- Implement the IT asset management tool: Implement the IT asset management tool and configure it to meet your organization's needs. This may involve integrating the tool with other IT systems, such as help desk software and configuration management databases.
- Train employees: Train client employees on the use of the IT asset management tool and the asset management policies and procedures. This will help ensure that they are able to effectively manage assets and comply with organizational policies.
- Monitor and refine: Continuously monitor and refine your IT asset management processes to ensure they are effective and efficient. Use metrics such as asset utilization, compliance rates, and cost savings to measure the success of your IT asset management initiative.
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