What is ITAM?

What is IT asset management (ITAM)?

IT asset management (ITAM) is an indispensable process every organization needs in order to manage technology assets effectively. By overseeing the entire lifecycle of these assets, ITAM ensures that they are accounted for, tracked, upgraded, maintained, and eventually disposed of at the appropriate time.

The goal of ITAM is to maximize the value of IT assets, reduce costs, minimize risks, and improve overall IT operational efficiency. And with remote work on the rise, ITAM is more important than ever

Without proper ITAM, you risk losing track of your technology assets, exposing your organization to cybersecurity threats, and dropping the ball on compliance.

So what falls under the IT asset umbrella? Hardware, software, or any other tangible or intangible information that your organization values. Think back to the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when there was a rush to outfit employees with systems so they could work remotely.

What’s happened to those systems? Were they ever properly onboarded and secured? Have they been updated? Did employees buy their own accessories in a pinch? Did they sign up for individual subscriptions?

With increased employee turnover, do you even know where those systems or subscriptions are? The more questions you ask, the more questions come up.

And that’s just one example. A simple metaphor is to think of ITAM as your foundation. Like a sturdy foundation, effective ITAM practices provide a solid base for your business’s operations, ensuring your technology assets remain optimized, secure, and compliant.

The key is to be proactive in IT asset management: Don’t wait for an audit or breach before securing your business!

Read on to see why ITAM is important, how it will benefit you, and why it requires a holistic approach that involves people, processes, and technology.

Since ITAM should be integrated with other IT management practices like IT Service Management, you can dig deeper into "What is ITSM?" in this hub article.

Benefits of IT asset management

Here are the top 10 benefits you’ll see from investing in IT asset management (ITAM):

  1. Cost reduction: By optimizing the use of IT assets, ITAM can help your organization reduce costs associated with purchasing, maintaining, and retiring assets.
  2. Risk mitigation: ITAM helps mitigate the risks associated with IT asset usage, such as security breaches, software licensing violations, and compliance issues.
  3. Improved compliance: With effective ITAM practices, organizations like yours can ensure compliance with licensing and regulatory requirements, avoiding costly fines and legal penalties.
  4. Better decision making: ITAM delivers valuable data and insights that can inform decision making about IT asset acquisition, usage, upgrades, and retirement — ultimately improving overall business performance.
  5. Increased operational efficiency: By providing a centralized view of all IT assets, ITAM helps to improve operational efficiency, reduce downtime, and improve service delivery.
  6. Enhanced security: ITAM helps organizations identify and address security vulnerabilities in IT assets, reducing the risk of cyberattacks and other security breaches.
  7. Improved asset utilization: By optimizing asset usage, ITAM can help you get the most out of your IT investments and maximize asset value.
  8. Better vendor management: ITAM can help you manage vendor relationships more effectively, ensuring that vendors are meeting contractual obligations and providing good value.
  9. Simplified audit processes: With ITAM, your organization can simplify the audit process, providing auditors with accurate, up-to-date information about IT assets, licenses, and usage.
  10. Improved sustainability: By properly managing the disposal of IT assets, ITAM can help your organization reduce environmental impact and promote sustainability.

What is the IT asset management process?

The IT asset management (ITAM) process typically involves the following stages:

  1. Discovery: This stage involves identifying all IT assets within the organization (including hardware and software), their location, and their status.
  2. Inventory: Once assets have been discovered, the next step is to create a complete inventory, including details like hardware and software specifications, licenses, and usage. (An app like Assets and Inventory Plugin for Jira can help!)
  3. Compliance: The compliance stage is when you verify that all assets are properly licensed and in compliance with licensing agreements, regulatory requirements, and security policies.
  4. Optimization: The optimization stage involves analyzing inventory data to identify opportunities to optimize asset usage, reduce costs, and improve operational efficiency.
  5. Retirement/Disposal: Finally, at the end of an asset’s lifecycle, it must be properly retired or disposed of in a secure and compliant manner.

A simple real-life example could be someone in your marketing department asking for an iPad for a remote design project. Your ITAM process could run through your catalog of assets to see what iPads the team has, how old they are, and if purchasing a new one is a prudent solution based on budget, marketing goals, and the organization’s needs

ITAM gives you the visibility you need to make better decisions that will help save you money and reduce waste.

What’s the ITAM lifecycle?

ITAM isn’t a project you start and stop: The process is ongoing, and you’ll want to regularly evaluate and update your organization’s ITAM practices to ensure alignment with changing business needs and IT environments. By adopting a holistic approach to ITAM lifecycle management, you can ensure that your IT assets deliver maximum value and support business goals.

The IT asset management lifecycle looks something like this:

  • Procurement: Acquiring new IT assets, including hardware and software, while ensuring alignment with business goals.
  • Deployment: Configuring assets to meet business and user requirements.
  • Maintenance: Maintaining assets to ensure optimal performance, including routine maintenance, upgrades, and repairs.
  • Usage: Tracking asset usage for compliance with licensing and regulatory requirements while delivering IT services.
  • Retirement or disposal: Secure and compliant retirement or disposal of assets in accordance with environmental and data privacy regulations.

Effective lifecycle management requires a clear understanding of IT asset inventory, usage, and performance. Once you’ve turned over all the face-down iPads (metaphorically speaking), you’re able to make informed decisions about asset procurement, maintenance, and retirement. And you can optimize asset usage to reduce costs and improve operational efficiency.

IT asset management best practices

To be successful with ITAM best practices, here are some things to consider or keep in mind:

  1. Establish clear policies and procedures: This is job one for ITAM! It helps ensure consistent practices and promotes accountability across the organization.
  2. Use automation and technology: Automation and technology can help streamline ITAM processes, reduce manual errors, and improve accuracy and efficiency.
  3. Maintain accurate asset records: Keeping accurate records of IT assets, including hardware and software, can help you understand your inventory and usage levels, identify compliance risks, and optimize costs.
  4. Ensure compliance: Staying compliant with licensing and regulatory requirements is critical for avoiding legal and financial penalties, reputational damage, and security risks.
  5. Implement a growth mindset: Continuously improving ITAM processes can help you identify areas for optimization, cost savings, and better alignment with your business objectives.
  6. Get buy-in from stakeholders: Support from stakeholders — including IT, finance, and business leaders — can help ensure that your organization prioritizes ITAM initiatives and devotes enough resources to keep things running smoothly.

What are IT asset management solutions or tools?

IT asset management (ITAM) solutions or tools are designed to help organizations manage IT assets throughout their lifecycle — from acquisition to disposal. These tools typically provide a centralized platform for IT asset tracking, inventory management, and reporting

IT asset management tools can help you track hardware and software assets, monitor their usage, and manage software license compliance. They can also help you optimize asset usage and reduce costs by identifying underutilized or redundant assets.

Some common features of ITAM solutions or tools include:

  • Asset discovery and inventory management
  • Software license management and compliance tracking
  • Contract and vendor management
  • Asset tracking and monitoring
  • Asset lifecycle management, including acquisition, deployment, and retirement
  • Reporting and analytics

The specific features and capabilities of ITAM solutions or tools can vary depending on the vendor and the specific product. Choosing the right solution depends on factors like the size and complexity of your organization’s IT environment, the number and types of assets to be managed, and (of course) your budget.

Security and ITAM

Digital security is one of the most vital goals of an effective ITAM strategy. It’s also one of the most monumental tasks you’ll find in proper ITAM. Cyber attacks are top of mind for every board of directors, C-suite, and IT team anywhere.

Here are some tips for tackling the challenges of security and ITAM, including some critical processes to put in place:

  • Asset inventory — Identifying all the assets your organization has or uses is a task in itself. But it’s not a one-time task: Inventory is a process you need to maintain and update constantly.
  • Asset ownership — Once you take inventory, you’ll need to identify and document who’s responsible for each asset in order to ensure security across your IT systems.
  • Acceptable use of each asset — Define how these assets should be used by their owners, and ideally establish a system for checking in periodically to ensure compliance with any company or industry regulations and standards.

One of the most critical security processes for ITAM is tracking hardware and software, associated pathways, and upgrades. Use data mapping to identify the data involved with these assets.

You’ll want to appropriately track the return and removal of assets. Network and data flow diagrams can help your organization understand your data flow as a whole.

Finally, tracking removable storage on your own devices can help identify potential cybersecurity threats.

Establishing and maintaining a robust ITAM practice is critical for maintaining security. By identifying and tracking all technology assets, your organization can effectively minimize risk and reduce expenses. And you can stay ahead of evolving threats and maintain a secure environment by continuously updating and improving your ITAM practices.

For a fun conversation on ITAM, check out this episode of Appfire Presents: The BEST ITSM Show, featuring Isos Technology’s Rodney West: “What is IT Asset Management (and how do I do it)?

Whether you’re just getting started with ITAM, or you’re looking to refine your current processes and tools, Appfire has you covered. See how Assets and Inventory Plugin for Jira can help you proactively get ahead of audits, improve collaboration and asset delivery, tighten up your IT security, and more. Try it free!

Last updated: 2023-06-05

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