Looking for a way to track your hardware, software, and virtual IT assets?
Without a proper system, this can be a challenging task.
But to make things easier, you can use an IT asset management (ITAM) tool to do the job for you.
In this article, we’ll cover all you need to know about IT asset management including:
- What is IT asset management (ITAM)
- Why is IT asset management important
- How does IT asset management work
- How to use IT asset management tools
Let’s dive in, starting with…
IT asset management (ITAM) is the management of the entire lifecycle of all IT assets of a company, including the tactical and strategic decision making related to them.
But what are IT assets and what do they include?
An IT asset is any company-owned hardware, software, network, or information that’s used to complete the day-to-day business processes and activities.
- Infrastructure hardware. All network devices, servers, and data centers that your company owns and uses.
- In-house developed software. The software that your employees developed and use on a daily basis.
- Software licenses. Software developed by a third party for which your company purchases a license for a certain period of time.
- Company-owned devices. All devices purchased and owned by your company including laptops, computers, tablets, phones, monitors, and printers.
- Lease agreements for facilities and infrastructure. If your company has lease agreements to use a facility or infrastructure owned by a third party, that’s also considered an asset.
- Digital data. Photos, videos, and other business-related information stored on company-owned devices.
As you can see, IT asset management is a broad term that covers lots of tangible and intangible assets.
That’s why it can be broken down into 3 specific types of IT asset management.
ITAM is a subset of the IT Service Management System and includes the proper management of all financial, contractual, and inventory functions of the IT assets and regulates the overall IT environment factors.
This category is managing all intellectual property that’s stored on company-owned devices in the form of electronic media and other business-related information produced by the company.
Software Asset Management (SAM) – This type of ITAM is concerned with the management, control, and security of the company-produced software and the purchased licenses for third-party software.
This way, the company ensures that there are no compliance conflicts and violations, and the license payments are processed correctly and on time.
In 2020, it’s more common to use a SaaS management software to manage your software licenses, rather than an ITAM tool. Check out our guide to SaaS management to learn more about that.
Managing all your IT assets like hardware, software, and company networks can get overwhelming without a proper ITAM system in place.
It’s especially hard to track your IT inventory if you’re managing a huge enterprise with lots of departments, networks, and big IT inventories in different locations.
Tracking assets can get tricky also if you’re relying on Excel sheets. Which, unfortunately, is the industry standard today – around 25% of enterprises rely on Excel to track IT asset inventory. Using Excel for this, as you can guess, can lead to a lot of inaccuracies, unreliability, and lost information.
On the other hand, companies that use ITAM save about 30% of their IT budget.
Let’s see what other benefits can a fully-functioning ITAM system bring you!
With IT asset management, you better understand what assets are purchased and how many of them are used effectively. This, in turn, helps you make better purchasing decisions in the future.
You can also track the quality of the product/service you’re using, the post-sale support, and other essential factors.
Natural disasters and other unforeseen events can crash your systems and cause data loss.
With a proper ITAM, you can identify the potential problems that such events might cause and be better prepared to recover and restore your services faster.
An ITAM software shows you which of your employees have access to what information.
You can also use the software to manage employees’ access, put different restrictions where needed, and improve the security of all your IT assets.
As the average company uses 100 – 300+ software solutions, it becomes very hard to keep track of which tools are used efficiently, and which ones end up being forgotten.
With an IT asset management system, you can track the usage of business-related apps all from one place, avoid unjustified costs, compliance risks, and other liabilities.
ITAM makes it easier to standardize all your IT processes.
For example, you can use ITAM software to manage company hardware.
Let’s say an employee needs a work phone – all they have to do is request it through the ITAM portal.
At the same time, the IT team can keep track of all company devices (and who they currently belong to), and in case of employees quitting, it’s easier for them to get the hardware back.
The total cost of ownership (TCO) shows you all expenses related to an IT asset instead of just the purchase price. TCO includes operation, support, and maintenance costs that occur during the IT asset lifecycle.
When you have a comprehensive ITAM system that helps you track the total cost of ownership with accuracy, you can eliminate assets that are duplicate or are simply not useful for your company.
The IT asset management activities revolve around the asset lifecycle. That’s why the process itself is systematic and continuous.
The 5 stages of the asset lifecycle are:
The first step of the IT asset management process is to plan your strategy.
You have to make a strategic decision on what assets the company needs, how you’re going to procure them, and how you’ll maintain and use them.
This stage often includes a total cost of ownership or cost/benefit analysis to help you make the right choice.
The next step is procurement. Here, you acquire the IT assets either through building, leasing, buying, or licensing them.
At this stage, you introduce the new assets into the company’s IT ecosystem.
This usually requires installation, integration with other components, establishing support processes, and giving users access.
Each asset needs maintenance, repair, and upgrades after it’s been used for some time. This way, you maximize the value you get from it, mitigate risk, and extend the asset’s life.
The last stage is when the asset reaches the end of its useful life. That’s when you have to dispose of it, terminate license renewals, and cancel support agreements.
You also have to think about a replacement asset to which you can transition all users.
IT asset management involves the handling of lots of data.
Automating the process with the help of an ITAM tool can help you capture, process, manage and analyze all of this data easily.
Not sure which ITAM tool to pick? Here are some must-have features you should be on the lookout for:
When a new asset is installed in the company’s IT system, the tool will recognize it and include it in the inventory.
The tool can detect if you’re under-licensed and at risk of compliance liabilities or over-licensed and paying for unnecessary software. Some tools can also track changes in the Terms and Conditions of each software and license expiration date.
The tool automatically updates software and makes sure that all devices meet the security and efficiency standards.
Employees can place requests for new IT assets like software and devices by filling out a standardized form directly in the system. The tool can also identify different license requirements and monitor the procurement and deployment process.
You can access a catalog with all assets and resources used within the organization. The catalog also contains information about the asset’s name, edition, version, license agreement, and other vital information.
A configuration management database is usually a part of the IT service management system and supports asset management control. Through a CMDB you can see the IT asset configuration, warranty, contracts, and other tracking information.
The fixed repository system is part of the financial management system and reports asset data needed in some financial processes.
The digital asset management feature allows you to organize, store, and retrieve media assets and manage their copyright permissions. Such assets are photos, videos, animations, and other multimedia.
Not sure which ITAM tool to use?
Give Blissfully a try!
Blissfully is a next-gen ITAM and SaaS Management software that lets you manage all your IT needs in one place.
You can use Blissfully to:
- Onboard & offboard your employee
- Manage your SaaS spend
- Get a top-down view of all your SaaS usage and spend
- Manage your hardware assets in one place – company laptops, phones, etc.
Handling IT assets manually is time-consuming, costly, and the chance of making a mistake is much higher.
And instead of wasting a month of human labor on assembling IT asset audits, you can just put all the information in an IT asset management tool that can do the job for you!
This way, you get more accurate results, save time, and manage your IT assets more efficiently.