The one thing that needs to be understood upfront is that IT asset management (ITAM) is not a project that you do once and it’s done. The process of managing IT assets needs to be constant and continuously improved to maximize the value of your information technology. Organizations can implement ITAM as a stand-alone process or as part of an ongoing IT lifecycle management practice, developing the best policies for technology spending and decisions regarding that spend. At its core, ITAM is based on having an up-to-date, detailed inventory of all IT assets. Once you have that, you can use that information to make decisions going forward.
The unfortunate reality is that many companies treat the asset management as a reactionary rather than proactive process, typically after an issue has occurred. Following best practices like those below helps ensure that organizational assets are managed consistently and completely.
Procure an Involved Executive Ally
Look for an executive who understands the importance of ITAM as well as the need to be proactive versus reactive. With any organizational decision, without a member of the executive team championing your efforts, it is challenging to enact change. Failure to follow this step can lead to a loss of interest and diminishing resources for any initiatives you have worked hard to enact. If an executive is on the same page and understands the value, it’s far easier to ensure the funds keep coming.
Use Discovery Technology To Build your Inventory
Utilize an asset management scan or similar technique to get an accurate picture of your current IT landscape. You need to include any offsite IT assets and mobile assets. Even if you have a “bring your own device” policy, they still need to be considered in your asset management process. Develop the various categories of your assets, such as hardware, software, networking, and communications infrastructure, cloud assets, and mobile devices.
You need to delineate what is a critical asset. These are assets that are instrumental to your business and require more management. Critical assets can be hardware or software products. Determining which assets are critical helps prevent being overwhelmed by the sheer number of assets you may have in the field.
Organize Your ITAM Team Immediately
Make sure to intelligently organize your team based on their expertise and help build the process from scratch, right from the beginning. Having your team be part of the creation process will also help them be fully invested in the process and more likely to improve and evolve the process as time goes on. Have your ITAM team get feedback from others around the company. Again, having this feedback requested and considered gives the whole company a part of creating the process, and they will be more fully invested in your ITAM process.
Make ITAM an Ongoing Process
Implementing an asset management process can be complex and should be taken in incremental stages. For example, start with your a thorough audit of SaaS licensing across departments and make sure that everything is in order there. Do not add anything else until you have tried and tested the process for managing your licenses. All components of your process should be tracked and monitored regularly to help ensure your implementations are not forgotten or abandoned.
Agility is essential to a successful ITAM process, so make sure you’re constantly updating your inventory tracking, helping your company be more able to respond quickly to needed changes.
Use the Lifecycle-Based Approach
The lifecycle-based approach is done by tracking an asset from purchase request through payment and retirement. This process will ensure you have airtight asset tracking, especially handy for any audits you may incur. The lifecycle-based approach is a proven method for asset tracking; look for a system that automatically loads inventory as it is acquired, keeping accurate records of usage and retirement.
Automate Where Possible
Always be on the lookout for any new automation options that will help out your process. An excellent place to find automation opportunities is when you find yourself doing certain tasks over and over manually. Look for ways to automate this process. Some areas that lend well to automation are reporting, application deployment, and patching. Another alternative to automation is outsourcing certain parts of the ITAM process to ensure compliance without becoming overwhelmed. One of the benefits of automation is that it will save money in the form of work hours and salary.
Use Your Data Efficiently
Tying asset management to other aspects of the lifecycle (sourcing, invoice management, service & support) ensures that data gathered regarding each asset is complete and accurate. Determine which metrics are essential to your organization (like licensing, financial information, network data, user data, locations, purchase and disposal information) and tie those to organizational goals for reporting and analysis. If you’re trying to make better purchasing decisions, track metrics applicable to that goal like out-of-contract dates, average maintenance cost, and asset depreciation rates.
Track Software Licenses Carefully
Software licensure is a critical piece of the ITAM process. According to Zylo the average company maintains approximately 600 SaaS licenses and 38% of those licenses are inactive. With 1 in 3 employees expensing their SaaS licenses, most IT organizations do not have an accurate view of the number of their SaaS licenses or the total cost.
While the management process is time-intensive, it’s critical to your business operations. If you are over-deployed, you’re at risk for significant fines and penalties, while if you’re under-deployed, you’re paying for licenses you aren’t using, which is a waste of funds.
Get Feedback To Improve Your Process Continuously
Develop an official process in which feedback can be given to your asset management or ITAM team and help them evolve and improve the process. IT is constantly evolving and updating. Your ITAM process needs to evolve and update as well. Considering feedback from throughout the organization and keeping your process fluid will facilitate constant improvement.
Finding an asset management program that best fits your organization’s unique needs requires research. The key is to be agile, monitor your processes, or work with an organization that can help you achieve the desired outcome.
If you’re interested in learning more about asset management as part of an IT lifecycle solution, contact the knowledgeable team at vCom Solutions.