IT asset management: How to be efficient

Businesses should be looking for ways to reduce costs through improved workflows. An effective way of accomplishing this is to scope and control the number of assets used within IT.

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Business leaders will tell you that overseeing a company is undoubtedly risky.

But there are ways to mitigate risk. IT inventory administration is key to businesses managing their systems more effectively and, if performed routinely, can save time and money by avoiding unnecessary asset purchases. To be effective, there are two distinct competencies that every organization should have: compliance process and an effective integrated business tool for the collection of asset information.

To this day, there are many small to medium-sized businesses that do not use an IT asset management system. Whether due to staff shortages or limited budgets, IT shops often struggle with identifying leased/purchased equipment or software, instead using spreadsheets or databases to list fragmented information.

IT is faced with enough challenges already; can you imagine using a system that aggregates all of these records? Using software to track asset lifecycle data not integrated with finance systems adds the risk of misinformation and the inability to track financial and maintenance data. Implementing a centralized system to contain and organize the inventory avoids needless maintenance expenses and provides insights to the information to make strategic decisions.

When done properly, IT asset management (ITAM) can have a direct impact in lowering both hardware and software spending. Having better control of the IT asset lifecycle also helps drive standards into organizations, which will improve efficiency and reliability.

ITAM collects inventory details that are very useful to the service desk. IT departments must gather information on what assets they have, with location, user info, network configuration data, the services they support and key financial info. This includes information about an end-user’s machine, where they are located and what software the end-user is entitled to have.

Having a service management discipline and ITAM together helps organizations make more informed decisions and design better processes. Imagine the value of having a change risk calculator that factors in asset details such as the age of the assets being changed or whether it was due to be returned from a lease expiring in sixty days. Having solid practices or procedures for collecting asset lifecycle data along with a sophisticated inventory ensures the reliability and integrity of the information. 

Getting started is not simple. True governance practices require that the company’s learning and growth culture with an effective long-range plan will guide the successful implementation of this business initiative.

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Centralizing IT assets into a shareable system saves time and money

Not surprisingly, the IT group manages the larger portion of assets in an organization and the first order of business is to use some form of electronic inventory management system -- more on this later. Business strategies should include this objective to inform the stakeholders that the investment in technology capital or the contractual components of IT services can accurately account for this inventory.

In reality, all IT shops should have the means (policies, procedures, tools) to support asset management for the enterprise. The ability to record purchases, costs, contracts, locations and disposal data helps the organization make informed decisions about strategic purchases.

We're all for minimizing the incremental risks and related costs associated with IT infrastructure projects that are based on old, incomplete and/or less accurate information. So having a central location of these assets helps in performing important upgrades on versions of equipment and software.

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Evaluation and selection of an ITAM solution can be a simple process

The easy part

As noted earlier, there are several electronic asset management systems (146 in this list by Capterra), that your organization could compare and select, but you would also need some criteria to guide your decision. Some ideas include:

  • Types of assets you need to gather info about
    • Hardware & Software
    • Network & Communications infrastructure, servers, & applications
    • Mobile devices
    • Critical Enterprise Documentation
    • CCTV, Alarm Systems
    • Telephone circuits
    • Facilities equipment for IT Services (HVAC, Generators, Batteries)
  • Consider the metadata to collect
    • Vendors, carriers, service providers, locations, licensing, firmware, purchase & disposal info
  • Reporting requirements
    • Equipment upgrades or change out plans, issue resolution
    • Integration with other sources (help desk, document management, financial, network support applications)
    • Development of IT & business strategies or operational plans
    • Reduce negative impacts to productivity with access to pre-approved software and silent installs

Getting the most return from your IT investment starts with a clear view of all your hardware and software assets. The software you select should help you gain visibility, compliance, and control of your IT assets to reveal the true value they deliver.

The enterprise software must help maximize value of expensive and complex assets. In your decision, you can ensure asset availability by seeing that necessary maintenance is performed and allow senior management to manage and protect their overall investment.

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Keeping your ITAM solution accurate and purposeful will be necesssary

The hard part

In order for IT asset management to be effective, the identification and tracking of key components must be performed frequently and regularly. For accurate results, organizations must have measureable policies, procedures and governance practices in place to help you boost return on your technology investment.

In terms of having a structured process approach, the primary goals for IT governance are to assure that the use of information and technology generates business value, oversee management's performance, and mitigate the risks associated with using information and technology. 

IT asset management is not a one-time activity -- it is an ongoing process. Having the right software and the operational practices administered properly, you will optimize the value you derive from your IT systems.

Asset management discipline guarantees that you will make the right business and project decisions, optimizing the delivery of value. The effort to collect and maintain this data is time and resource consuming. Contemplate automating the process to integrate the software and related workflow by having assigned roles and responsibilities to include staff (cross-functional team) to review, adjust and report frequently.

From experience, I’ll share that there will be numerous changes to monitor, and if you do not have an effective service management discipline, namely change control, you will lose the effectiveness of the system and the capabilities of concrete reporting. Given the nature of the dependency and criticalness of the information (contracts, equipment turnover, costs, etc.), the process and information should be audited for fiscal and security effectiveness.

Bottom-line: You constantly face mounting pressure to forecast and budget IT resources, cut costs, and improve departmental efficiency. To be successful, you need to control the entire asset management process, budget and risks against the desired performance of the assets. Your best shot at being efficient is to centralize this activity using a cross-functional team.

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