IT asset management (ITAM) is an accounting system for the hardware and software that an organization uses. It ensures that its technology assets are accounted for, correctly deployed, maintained, upgraded and patched, secured, and disposed of at the end of their useful life.
At a higher level, IT asset management is a business protocol that allows the business to assess its IT assets from a financial, contractual, security, and risk management perspective and is a key tool in managing the lifecycle of IT assets.
What is an IT asset?
Any technology your organization owns or licenses is an IT asset, and that includes both hardware and software, leased and owned.
Hardware assets include organization-owned laptops, desktops, servers, printers, routers, switches, mobile devices, medical carts, and IoT devices, as well as leased devices such as copiers, phone systems, and networking equipment. Software assets include licenses for Windows and Mac operating systems, productivity software, accounting and finance software, and any SaaS tools it uses or subscribes to.
Software assets also need to be monitored and optimized. Any type of software that you pay for has a license agreement of some type and it is your responsibility to stay compliant with that agreement, whether it is SaaS software, a cloud subscription, data center software, or end-user software - ITAM allows you to do that.
Why does your organization need IT asset management?
Much like your organization keeps a watchful eye on its financial resources, your IT assets deserve the same attention because of the large amount of capital resources you have invested. Your technology handles most of the work your organization does, and more importantly, the work it does for your customers, but it is typically under-management and misunderstood. IT assets are a major investment and they drive your organization’s revenue.
Signs your organization needs IT asset management:
- Relying on spreadsheets to track inventory and software license expiration dates
- Spending too much time tracking assets
- Overbuying of IT assets
- Ballooning software licensing costs
- Software license audit that did not go your way
- Security breach on one (or more) of your IT assets
- Different departments claim different counts and / or value of IT asset investments
Here are 5 reasons your organization needs an IT asset management system:
1) Understand and manage your hardware.
Most organizations own a lot of computer hardware. An ITAM program tags each device so it knows what it owns, where it is, who has it, and the health of each device during its lifecycle. By helping you better manage your hardware, ITAM reduces your overhead by keeping you from buying what you already own, keeps the device healthy so it can be used longer, and tracks depreciation so you know when it is time to refresh a device so it can be used by someone else, remarket it, or recycle it.
2) Manage software license compliance.
Organizations can be audited by software publishers at any time. Unless it has complete visibility into its software usage and licenses it can be unaware of any violations. ITAM lets an organization know what software it owns and has installed, how many people are using it, reconcile any difference between the two, and help it understand what actions to take to maintain license compliance. IT asset management software can help mitigate non-compliance risk, avoid fines and true-ups, as well as reduce spending on software you don’t need.
Additionally, ITAM can provide information on your software assets that can help you select the best licensing model and negotiate better software deals.
3) Improves your IT service management.
IT asset management systems typically integrate with service desk platforms so organizations can access service requests and tickets from a single tool. This helps speed up ticket processing, increases device uptime, automates maintenance to improve the reliability of IT assets, and helps enhance security by knowing which assets have been patched, protected, and updated.
4) Understand your inventory.
Many organizations have one system to track IT purchases and a different system to track their IT inventory. This means that the team managing inventory might not have visibility to the service-level agreements and contracts so they cannot efficiently plan for future procurement or when licenses need to be renewed.
An IT asset management system provides a clear view into hardware and software needs and helps with purchase planning and budgeting. It allows organizations to buy new IT equipment when older gear reaches the end of its functional life. Asset management brings order to chaos.
5) Make data-driven decisions.
Here’s a simplistic example: your organization has purchased 10 licenses for an operating system but installed it on 12 devices. If you were audited, you’d be facing penalties. On the other hand, if you purchased 10 licenses but only used 4, you’ve overpaid for your needs.
Now, apply these same issues across 40,000 (or more) deployed devices. Things can get complicated quickly if you don’t know when to renew software licenses, upgrade versions, or uninstall unused software. Or if you plan on retiring 10,000 3-year old laptops and not the 10,000 6-year old laptops because you “forgot” about them. ITAM helps you make smarter data-driven decisions regarding your IT assets and investment.
The bottom line.
IT assets, both hardware and software, have a finite lifespan and smart organizations need to maximize their value by managing them across their entire lifecycle, from procurement to retirement. IT asset management helps organizations save money through detailed asset tracking and inventory, improves software license compliance, cybersecurity, budgeting and decision-making, and reduces regulatory governance risk.
As our reliance on technology continues to increase, one way to cut costs is to optimize spending on hardware and software. IT asset management provides a single source of credible truth to identify, track, optimize, and secure an organization’s IT assets. KEYSTONE IT Asset Management helps you attain unparalleled visibility and control into your hardware and software assets to enhance data security, reduce technology spend, improve operational efficiency, prove compliance, and speed data driven decision making and overall business agility.