It's easy to ignore IT asset management (ITAM) when everything is working. Life is good until a key system fails or doesn't pass an audit. Then, there's a mad scramble as management begins firing off questions. Sound familiar? Whether a key server burns out or your company gets a whopping bill from Microsoft or Adobe, take advantage of the opportunity to highlight the importance of implementing an ongoing IT asset management process.
IT Asset Management as a Process versus a Project
Start the pitch with how IT asset management can lower software and hardware spending. Once an organization gets a handle on the IT asset lifecycle, new standards can be set to improve efficiency and visibility into the process.
Essential ITAM Best Practices
Start with executive stakeholders inside and outside of the IT department. Without a key leader championing and questioning ITAM initiatives, an overarching process becomes a project-driven phase. Budgets shift, and the program languishes until the next crisis. If you develop a process that drives values and can quantify this, asset management sells itself. Yet, early support from the executive suite is essential.
Here are some Tips and Tricks for ITAM leadership:
- Organize an IT Asset Management implementation team at the beginning of the process. Inheriting a roadmap designed by someone else can put people on autopilot. Instead, recruit members who are equipped to question everything and perform a close analysis of the data.
- Pick a place to start. You don't want to avoid have a single project represent your entire ITAM program, but paying attention to high-value assets is crucial.
- Define the criteria for critical assets. This can include key hardware or platinum software applications. These assets will require additional monitoring and receive priority when the team is juggling incidents.
- Consider a Configuration Management Database System (CMDB). If your company is large enough to easily lose track of procurement records, licensing and other asset-driven data, then having a centralized place to store key data is crucial. At least in the beginning, be selective of what gets recorded and tracked. This mindset makes it possible to track the entire asset lifecycle without getting bogged down with lower priority assets.
- Automate monitoring and tracking as much as possible. The more dashboard reporting you have, the easier it will be to see trouble coming in time to prevent a major issue.
- Who needs to know? This question isn't just for reports that tag red flag parameters. When you start collecting asset data, there are several departments that can benefit from the available information. This includes the help desk, change management, and financial systems teams. This is a great opportunity for value-added communication, such as ensuring that changes are scheduled at times of lowest impact on important services and end users.
- Software license management is a crucial area that is often neglected. Before you worry about over-deployment, make sure to know what the upper boundaries of your licensing entitlement are for each system. When vendors come knocking with usage audits, failing to produce proof of your licensing agreements can result in a hefty bill.
- Implement a feedback loop that encompasses the ITAM team, other IT groups, and the business. You are managing a constantly changing landscape. To keep your footing, you need to stay on top of the needs and issues that are important to your clients.
Collecting, Storing and Using Asset Data
ITAM is important in collecting inventory information that is used by the service desk and procurement teams. It's also essential to produce an accurate forecast and budget plans. Some of this data includes the location of end user machines, software details and associated licensing. Placing service management and ITAM under the same management umbrella can increase accountability and understanding so that organizations can make better decisions. Establishing the policies and tools to implement asset management starts with recording the following information for each asset:
- Purchase records
- Costs and licensing
- Useful life and disposal plans
Does Your IT Asset Management System Capture the Data You Need?
When assessing the utility of your current asset management system, it's good to have a checklist of data that should be incorporated. If your ITAM system is currently an Excel spreadsheet, then the following criteria can help you vet out what you need from an ITAM system.
- Asset categories
- Hardware and software tracking
- Mobile devices (cell phones, laptops, tablets)
- Security systems, such as CCTVs and alarm systems
- Network infrastructure, including servers and applications
- Telephones and telephony circuitry
- Facilities for server rooms and other asset-related costs (HVAC, generators and other costs)
- Vendors, carriers and service provider
In addition to collecting information, it's important to assess your reporting requirements. It's tough to vet out what information to capture if you haven't established what you will be tracking. Knowing what equipment you have and where it's deployed is essential to managing upgrades and replacement plans. This is critical to the implementation of installs and patches that won't negatively impact productivity.
The Importance of Centralized Data
In order to get the most out of your assets, you need to know what they are. Select software that increases visibility and compliance. This enables you to control the IT asset management process against the allotted budget and risks. It also helps you highlight management underperforming systems or underutilized assets that could be candidates for future cost savings.
About the Author: Chantel Soumis
Chantel Soumis brings over a decade of knowledge in workflow enhancement through the use of technology. Chantel studied marketing communications and business administration at Franklin University and proceeded to work in a fast, ambitious environment, assuring client delight in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. Passionate about project productivity and streamlining workflows through the use of technology, Chantel strives to inform organizations of Valicom’s advanced telecom expense management software and services by mastering communications and messaging while delivering helpful information and supporting resources.