IT asset management (ITAM) is a set of business practices for optimizing spending and supporting strategic decision making within the IT environment while also increasing the company-wide understanding of IT's business value.
To break this down, ITAM typically revolves around creating a detailed, up-to-date inventory of an organization's IT assets (any company-owned information, system or hardware), and then leveraging it to drive any IT-related decisions. The idea being, smart planning leads to a reduction in waste and unnecessary risk.
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 go back to old ways until the next issue hits. Technology is a significant investment for every company. Therefore, the management of it should be invested in on an ongoing basis. ITAM comes with its own set of challenges but here are some best practices to get you going:
- 1. Asset discovery: Create a full IT inventory to gain visibility into all the IT assets that exist in the organizational IT landscape – network, data center, remote sites, user workstations, etc. Determine areas of asset management, the most typical being:
- - Hardware & Software
- Network & Communications infrastructure, servers, & applications
- Mobile devices
- Cloud assets
2. Asset prioritization: Not all IT assets are created equal. 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. Software license management: This is a time consuming process, but a necessary evil. Being under-compliant puts you at risk of heavy penalties, and being over-compliant opens you up to having to bear unnecessary costs. In terms of software audits, a key thing to keep in mind is to know what you are entitled to have deployed. More often than not, organizations fall short in their software audits for failing to do so.
4. Determine the metrics that matter: In addition to general information such as vendors, network configuration data, locations, user info, licensing, purchase & disposal info, and financial information, key metrics tied to your objectives should be identified for reporting. For instance, if the goal is to improve purchase decisions, track metrics such as asset depreciation rate, average maintenance cost and average lease violation fines paid.
5. Track continuously: 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.
6. Automate, outsource, or both: From patching, to application deployment, to reporting, there are many opportunities to automate by adopting electronic ITAM platforms that free up your IT team’s time. Depending on the scale of your organization, you could also benefit from outsourcing your asset and lifecycle management needs to ensure full compliance and 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 your asset database. It is not enough to track and measure metrics, your organization needs to be able to respond to changes accordingly.
One final thing to keep in mind is to remember why you’re adopting ITAM in the first place. The big picture goal here is to assure that the use of IT generates business value and to ensure that IT risks are mitigated to the best of your organization’s ability. Remember, ITAM is a process, not a project. True success lies in buy-in from your leadership and IT team, and a commitment to stick with it.