Information Technology Asset Management (ITAM)
IAITAM defines IT Asset Management as "a set of business practices that incorporates Information Technology (IT) assets across the business units within the organization. It joins the financial, inventory, contractual and risk management responsibilities to manage the overall life cycle of these assets including tactical and strategic decision making." IT Asset Management is an investment that provides substantial and measurable benefits for short, medium, and long-term needs and goals. Trained IT Asset Management professionals have the ability to introduce best practices that deliver real value to the organization, whether facing a software audit or preparing for a merger.
Definition of Information Technology Asset Management (ITAM)
IT Asset Management (ITAM) is a type of business management that is directly tied to an enterprise's IT infrastructure. ITAM is essentially a form of business process management (BPM) that focuses on the overall deployment, use and lifespan of products, rather than other IT management components. With ITAM, professionals review the an organization's total business hardware and software inventory and make comprehensive decisions about sourcing, use and all other aspects related to an asset lifecycle. ITAM managers are responsible for maintaining control over inventory and ensuring that business assets fit the organization's operating needs. Other ITAM goals include compliance with industry standards, best practices for environmental usage and efficient asset reuse or purchases.
The optimum IT asset management system hits three main areas:
- Completeness. The tool should register any device that is attached to the network, even with an ad hoc connection, such as a smartphone or tablet. This comprehensive listing of network users helps IT teams to understand what is happening across the network and to apply suitable security to the organization’s data.
- Granularity. Two systems of the same product name often have differences inside. Granularity must apply to hardware and software, such as drivers and operating system version and patch level. For example, two servers of the same brand and model name could have varying amounts of installed memory, or a different make of hard disk drive. Gathering all this information in one system affords real value to IT asset management.
- Reportability. You must be able to access asset data in a meaningful manner. The IT asset management system must provide reports that are not just based on products, but also cover maintenance schedules, capability for devices to take patches and updates and the health of the equipment and the components within it.
Evaluating an Information Technology Asset Management (ITAM) System
When an organization is evaluating and later configuring an ITAM system, there are many key criteria to consider, including:
- Which assets you have and how they are expensed
- What you’re tracking – the real-time status of servers or websites or the physical tracking of assets
- Personnel resources – how much time is currently being spent on IT asset management and what is the potential cost savings of an automated solution
- Budgeting and Use Cases – which parts of the organization can contribute to the upfront costs associated with an advanced ITAM system – and how that contribution will be offset by the overall gains realized by the solution
- Customization – what are the requirements for your organization’s needs for customization. This could be based on pre-existing ITAM processes that are in place, based on ITIL Service Asset and Configuration Management, or could be based on organization-specific needs or software configurations
- Integration with help desk ticketing, services and/or other IT services/solutions
Types and Components of IT Asset Management
The four main IT assets that are managed are:
Types of IT Asset Management
- Physical: The discovery and inventory of hardware including PCs, laptops, printers, copiers, and any other device used for IT and data management purposes.
- Digital: The IT asset tracking of photos, videos, and digital data, including scanned hard copies.
- Software: Perhaps one of the most confusing and arduous IT asset management areas, due to compliance issues, licensing requirements, ShadowIT (IT being installed and/or used without IT management knowledge), and IoT (the Internet of Things - Smart TVs, smart appliances, even toys). This area of ITAM is one that must be diligently followed, constantly reviewed, and must be fluid to meet the demands of the business, its leadership, and the changing market.
- Mobile: Also a complicated ITAM task, mobile device and data use include not only efficient applicability but also adequate security measures. Mobile devices are used more and more in the field, regardless of the industry you are in. With that in mind, they are also the most vulnerable to Shadow IT. If your employees start downloading apps, even if the app is beneficial and can benefit the company, it should be reviewed and approved by the IT management director or team based on the firm IT policies in place.
- Cloud: While it would seem that managing the Cloud would be like harnessing the wind, IT asset management of Cloud components is actually achievable and secure. Use of the Cloud may eliminate the need for other hardware (servers) and software (licensing issues), not only saving you money, but keeping data more accessible at all times.
Components of IT Asset Management
- Physical: The physical info is collected using the discovery and inventory sources to accept data that shows what is deployed. It will also provide visibility into all IT assets that might be in a stockroom, but not yet deployed or maybe scheduled for retirement. This stockroom info is typically collected using manual processes, bar code readers or RFID systems if they are installed.
- Financial: The second component of ITAM is the financial data. This data is often collected from a purchasing system or from a purchase order. It indicates purchase order #, vendor name, quantity, make and model, purchase price, depreciation, cost center, and other financial attributes that an organization might need visibility into. Tracking financial attributes about an asset is useful to understand total cost of ownership, return on investment and assign costs to projects and IT business services. It also helps an organization understand technical debt associated legacy applications, for example on the mainframe, and enable better decision making about end-of-life for an asset.
- Contractual: The third component of ITAM is the contract data. This data is often collected from the reseller directly from the vendor/supplier or from a contract management system if one is in place. It will include the information from the final negotiated version of the contract, not the iterations during negotiation. Details such as version number, license entitlement, license type, vendor SKU, training days, service levels, maintenance and other important contract facts. If it is a cloud or Software as a Service purchase, the details will include quantity, license type, device count, purchase price, whether you are bringing your own software to the cloud instance, contract timeframe to name a few.
IT Asset Management Process
A best practice is that large organizations should appoint an asset manager with direct access to the management team to be able to implement effectively the guidelines for realizing a sound asset management system.
- Stage 1: Asset request and procurement This stage includes every aspect of acquiring an asset, from initial request and selection to arrival and training the user to begin operating the IT-related equipment. The two broad processes in this stage involve user management and the approval process.
- Stage 2: Asset change management process This stage assimilates every change that occurs during the lifetime of an asset, referred to as IMAC (Install Move Add Change). Because every change represents a cost to the organization, the asset management helps determine if the change is cost effective or business effective.
- Stage 3: Asset disposal and replacement Termination or retirement management involves planning and managing the execution of retiring assets from the enterprise. It enables control and accountability for the retirement of organization-owned assets, guided by both financial and physical goals.
Foundations of Effective IT Asset Management Process
- Management strategy – Creating a shared vision among all levels within the organization, especially executives and the IT team. That’s why it’s so important to talk about business requirements in a way that all groups will clearly understand. A good management strategy allows for a consensus on business objectives and program implementation. Management and IT teams will understand the benefits of the strategy and will have input over asset management activities and recommendations for improved operations and monitoring. An effective strategy will provide a clear plan with defined benefits.
- Optimum organizational design – The success of an asset management plan depends on the right people and processes coming together at the right time for a common purpose. Each role and responsibility should be clearly defined and qualified resources must be readily available in order to achieve asset management objectives.
- Long term asset planning – A critical step in assuring an organization’s quality and performance reliability, this requires an understanding of the company’s infrastructure, future capacity and current needs. Cost and risk also need to be considered, in terms of implementing or deferring asset maintenance and improvement.
IT Asset Life Cycle Management
IT asset life-cycle management(ITALM) is a core process of IT asset management(ITAM). As an asset manager, it is important for you to know the stage of life cycle of your assets. ITALM helps increase organizational productivity by helping IT Asset Managers make informed decisions on IT needs and services. IT Asset Managers can make better purchasing decisions by looking at various resources and their life-cycle stages. If a particular asset is about to retire/expire, and if the asset is already in the inventory, IT Asset Managers have more lead time to order and replenish. If not, you know that the lead time is much less and you will have to raise a PO as soon as possible. Similarly, providing a seamless IT experience is a key metric for a good quality IT service. It is of utmost importance that you as an IT asset manager, know of an asset expiration before the end user does.
ITAM and ITSM
ITAM and ITSM Are Stronger Together IT Service Management (ITSM) and ITAM work very closely together. Naturally, it makes sense for them both to be managed in one system of record. ITSM supplies a lot of data around asset failure and performance that is quite valuable for asset managers. Understanding which asset models perform best, or worst, can help IT determine the best asset standards that will help increase the reliability of services over time.
ITAM collects inventory details that are very useful to the service desk. This includes information about an end-user’s machine, where they are located, and what software the end-user is entitled to have. Having ITSM and ITAM together also helps organizations make more informed decisions and design better processes by using technical data from the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) and business data from the IT asset repository. 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. These examples are just a glimpse of what is possible with ITAM and ITSM together
Challenges and Recommendations for a Successful ITAM Program
- IT Asset Managers struggle to demonstrate and quantify value in order to justify continued executive sponsorship and investment in IT Asset Management ITAM
- Many ITAM teams are short staffed and unable to prioritize program velue assessments. The irony being the very act of reporting this value could provide the justification of much needed aaditional head count and tools
- Tracking ITAM benefits is very time consuming, especially using a methodology that is accepted across the enteprise. Yet this practice lends credibility and paves the way for increased maturity of ITAM programs.
- IT Asset Managers are often unsure what types of metrics to utilize to demonstrate ITAM value that is meaningful to the business.
IT Asset Managers should:
- Align ITAM metrics to critical business and IT initiatives, goals and objectives to ensure that values within the maximum impact are measured.
- Evaluate all ITAM life cycle processes (requisition, procurement, deployment, maintenance and retirement) to mine them for delivered benefits.
- Scrutinize the logic behind ITAM benefits calculations to ensure their validity. Consider utilizing an internal audit to add credibility to ITAM value metric processes and methodology.
- Maintain an ongoing log of all cost savings/avoidance that can be attributed to ITAM efforts, such as the cancellation of unused/unneeded hardware maintenance, software licenses and/or maintenance of service contracts.
Benefits of IT Asset Management
Asset Management supports the requirement along the entire lifetime cycle of their End-user IT equipment. With ITAM it is possible to establish and maintain IMAC (Install, Move, Add and Change) best practices, improve asset service levels and manage service risk and IT resources in a cost-effective manner and as part of a comprehensive ITSM program. A pragmatic and phased approach to adopting ITSM and ITAM processes is recommended to help to secure continued funding of your programs. This program development approach creates recurring business value, improves your organization’s IT maturity and provides success at every step.
- Uncover savings through process improvement and support for strategic decision making
- Gain control of the inventory
- Increase accountability to ensure compliance
- Enhance performance of assets and the life cycle management
- Risk reduction through standardization, proper documentation, loss detection
After implementing the defined asset management policies, organizations will get below mentioned tangible benefits
- Maintain the complete IT Asset and configuration item (CI) list.
- Maintain Configuration Management Database (CMDB) with proper access control and confidentiality
- Maintain records for expired and decommissioned assets
- Conduct capacity reporting on replenishing assets and consumables
- Track and report on contract, license, AMC, support renewals etc
- Identify, track, and prioritize corporate assets, especially mission-critical assets required for business continuity planning
- Manage Contracts for the assets which are applicable
IT Asset Management Standards
While ITIL and other frameworks provide guidance on asset management processes in the context of operations, the officially recognized standards for IT asset management is maintained by the International Standards Organization (ISO). The ISO 19770 family of standards consists of 5 major parts and was recently updated in 2017.
- ISO/IEC 19770-1: A process framework which outlines best practices for IT Asset Management in an organization. It enables an organization to prove that it is performing ITAM in accordance with the standard sufficiently to satisfy corporate governance requirements and support IT service management activities.
- ISO/IEC 19770-2: A data standard for software identification tags (SWID) This standard enables organizations to uniquely identify software is deployed on a given device.
- ISO/IEC 19770-3: A data standard for describing the entitlements and rights attendant to a piece of software and the method for measurement of license/entitlement consumption.
- ISO/IEC 19770-4: A measurement standard that allows for standardized reporting of resource utilization. This standard is particularly important when managing complex datacenter license and for management of cloud-based software and hardware resources.
- ISO/IEC 19770-5: Provides an overview of the ISO defined ITAM standards and vocabulary
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