No matter how long a company has been in business or what size it is, IT asset management (ITAM) is crucial for meeting the challenges of a rapidly changing economy.
This post explains what IT asset management is, as well as its various types.
It introduces the many benefits of ITA, followed by a guide in getting started with a productive IT asset management system.
The COOs of companies with physical assets or inventory will especially benefit from this information, as will any business owning a great deal of equipment, or involved with fieldwork.
In this article...
What Is IT Asset Management?
The term IT asset management covers a wide variety of aspects and actions. To better serve your company’s ITAM needs, it’s best to thoroughly comprehend what this term encompasses.
IT asset management is an aspect of an organization’s management of information technology, including its hardware, procurement, financing, and life cycle management.
- Sourcing professionals,
- Contracts with IT third parties,
- Working with software licenses,
- Risk and project management,
- Strategizing for cash outlay maximization
- Growth projection
ITAM can also be “defensive” for a business. It involves maintaining the security of sensitive information and the protection of assets.
Additionally, it provides a means of regulatory and warranty compliance.
Most importantly for remote workers and companies involved in fieldwork or which operate branches in multiple locations, ITAM covers the management of mobile devices.
This can include smartphones, tablets, laptops, and scanning equipment. Once considered a specialized item or even a luxury, such items are now necessities.
Proper IT asset management helps to ensure that these important items are kept up to date, guarded against viruses, secure in data transference, and protected from theft.
Types of Assets Covered by IT Asset Management
The scope of IT asset management covers a staggering number of assets, some more obvious than others.
Here are some examples. Chances are, your company owns or stocks at least a few.
Some organizations deal in digital assets as a service or sale items, such as online courses, e-books, or music.
ITAM involves all of these, as well as assets used only in-house, like architectural plans or consumer databases.
Other examples of digital assets include patents, intellectual properties, trademarks, owned licenses, and images.
Mobile devices aren’t the only items under the IT asset management umbrella.
Oversight also includes securing and paying for data, as well as restricting employee use of company WiFi or capping data usage.
ITAM includes tracking which device is assigned to which employee and covers check-in and check-out procedures.
IT asset management is concerned with an organization’s use of offsite data storage and backup—which third party might oversee it (if any), how large a data plan should be, and which documents are accessible.
The proper management of cloud storage saves time and money while also improving employee communication and coordination.
This is the most obvious aspect of IT asset management. It includes all hardware, such as laptops, routers, printers, and tablets.
Whether these items are sold, managed, or owned by the organization, IT asset management should track and organize all types of assets for maximum productivity.
What Can You Achieve With IT Asset Management?
IT asset management helps accomplish a great deal. Companies benefit from it financially as well as organizationally. Here are a few advantages.
Track the Complete Life Cycle of Assets
To understand how to effectively deploy IT asset management, it’s important to understand what an asset’s life cycle is, both for digital, as well as physical items.
The life cycle of a physical asset consists of:
Managing the life cycle of physical IT assets alone can help to lower the cost of asset investment by as much as 30% in the first year of ownership alone.
The ability to anticipate when it’s best to sell or recycle an asset is vital for managing an IT budget responsibly.
Digital assets are approached and managed differently, but it is still important to measure their life cycles carefully.
The life cycles of digital assets are similar to those of physical assets, but each stage demands specialized and specific IT attention:
From time to time, the life cycles of digital assets and physical assets might synchronize.
For example, an animation studio’s new in-house graphics software might require more powerful, faster computers with increased processing capacity.
A comprehensive and forward-thinking ITAM plan accounts for the differences between these items and meets the needs of each step in both cycles.
Securing benefits from both types of life cycles helps maximize the productivity and profitability of each item.
Conduct IT Asset Audits
Strong IT asset management allows for easy audits of both digital as well as physical assets.
Information technology affects nearly every business in some way.
Therefore, the control of IT effectively means the control of the company’s entire environment, both physical as well as digital.
The benefits of taking these steps can include learning details about the following:
- Configuration management
- Financial and efficiency audit, both internal and external
- Login history
- Software license management
- Forensic investigations
- Work order organization
Compliance with local and federal regulations is also accomplished with audits. When companies maintain records maintained by proper ITAM, that compliance is easy to prove.
These benefits are far-reaching, and are financial as well as systems related.
It is possible to track and pinpoint instances of theft and verify asset conditions with ease.
In addition, once the asset is complete, a smartly designed IT asset management system can generate its report in a number of formats.
The data is then easily shared across various branches and agencies, then securely archived.
Reduce Legal and Security Risks
IT asset management is vital where legal risk mitigation and cybersecurity is concerned.
Protection of sensitive data isn’t the only way ITAM benefits organizations that wisely invest in a secure system.
- Software is Patched, Current, and Regularly Updated. When software is past its manufacturer’s support date, it can spawn a hacking liability nightmare. A good ITAM system will keep digital IT assets current and running smoothly.
- Security Reporting Improves. If a security breach occurs, IT professionals are sometimes unaware, because other employees don’t know proper reporting or fear reprisal. A well-designed ITAM program offers security controls and verification, improving the timeliness and accuracy of security incidents.
- Mapping Software. When a company owns several different types of software, they might overlap or conflict with one another. In this case, software mapping makes security more effective, highlighting and eliminating programming incompatibilities before they affect efficiency or security.
- Software Control: A robust IT asset management program recognizes which software the company owns, who has access to it, and why. This helps reduce resale on the black market and facilitates the reclamation of unused software, thus preventing potential security holes.
When a company dedicates itself to ITAM and a good team of professionals, it can consider itself having invested well in a strong defense of its digital and physical IT assets.
Avoid Unnecessary IT Expenses
After an audit, either internal or external, some stakeholders are dismayed to find a striking gap between what they thought they had at their disposal and what their assets and inventory actually are.
When a business has a realistic overview of what it owns and how it manages that, it can better meet its current cash flow needs, as well as plan for future endeavors.
The ability to run accurate economic, sales, and marketing models is invaluable. It makes negotiations with third parties and clients easier and more profitable.
In addition, when accurate numbers are in place, decision makers can relocate, sell, update or reorganize IT assets. Any one of these options will make a tremendous difference in a company’s budget.
How to Get Started in IT Asset Management
When first beginning to organize a company’s IT asset management, the sheer size and responsibility involved with so many important details can seem overwhelming.
Here are some tips to take control of the process and ensure you are making the best decisions for your company.
Make an Inventory of Your Hardware Assets Before All Else
This is a crucial first step. Generating an accurate list of hardware assets builds a strong foundation and provides a smooth path for all subsequent steps.
Tracking IT assets calls for precision as a foundation. The data in your organization’s ITAM software should include:
- Purchase date
- Warehouse location
- Vendor contact information
- Expiration date, if any
- Maintenance schedule
- Manufacturer’s suggestions
- Operator handbooks
The location of certain hardware can be difficult to track, particularly when it moves from worksite to worksite or branch to branch.
This is especially true when a company’s policies include a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) provision.
Since upgrades happen so quickly in a workforce which chooses its own devices, a proper and easily updated inventory system is a good way to effortlessly quash multiple records or duplicate devices, which pose a security risk.
Label All Your Equipment for an Accurate Database
Cloud-based IT asset management systems work in conjunction with physical labels, which an employee scans to provide, update, or access information.
These labels are highly customizable and can withstand welding to outside vehicles or discreetly attach near museum pieces in an indoor environment.
When it comes to IT asset management, ensure that labels do not interfere with the asset’s operation or ability to connect to the internet.
Some best practices for tagging IT assets include:
- Identifying which assets to tag before the process begins
- Understanding the environment the asset will experience and choosing appropriate tags
- Using tamper-evident labels for sensitive or valuable assets on the move, which can quickly indicate when the item has been handled by an unauthorized person
- Ensure that the label is in an easily scanned location
- Testing label placement and functionality before committing to the entire system
- Training employees in proper label affixing
Setting your database up for success starts with the right place to scan, as well as ensuring that the tags are the best possible fit for the asset.
Find the Software With the Necessary Functions
Decision makers and stakeholders should carefully consider the daily tasks and needs of equipment operators and workforce employees before committing to a software suite for asset management.
A trial period and beta testing phase is always a good idea; gathering feedback from employees and managers who interface with the system is a valuable investment.
The workforce will feel more involved in the process, and decision-makers can act with confidence by incorporating the guidance of those who will actually use the system.
In addition, a good IT asset management program includes the following:
- Ability to document all devices within an organization to ensure standardization and employee comfort
- GPS tracking, which enables authorized employees to locate and track the location of any labeled device
- Attention to preventive maintenance for better management of the asset’s life cycle
- Accurate and regularly updated calculation of asset depreciation
The right ITAM software will provide this in a scalable nature for the organization, along with any customizable options.
Given the many advantages of IT asset management, a company cannot afford to ignore it. Asset tracking is just the first step in properly managing ITAM.
By choosing a software and tagging system which is a good fit for the operations, current needs, and future plans of an organization, a foundation is set for strong security, profitability, and increased efficiency.
GoCodes Can Help
We use QR code tags with a unique visual code that you can scan with your smartphone. When scanned, GoCodes tags provide GPS information about equipment location, making asset tracking easy. Sign up for a free trial here.