Rodney West of Isos Technology on The BEST ITSM Show by Appfire

“What is IT Asset Management (and how do I do it)?” Find out in this episode of Appfire Presents: The Best IT Service Management Show by Appfire.

Rodney West of Isos Technology joins Kerry O’Shea Gorgone to explain IT Asset Management: what it is, how to effectively do it, and what kinds of tools you need in your technology stack to keep things tickety boo.

For a deeper dive into this topic, check out this article about asset management on the Isos Technology blog.

About the guest

Rodney West is Professional Services Lead Consultant, Senior, at Isos Technology. He has been a technology consultant for over twenty years, delivering enterprise solutions across a wide range of industries.

Much of his career was spent in software engineering and architecture, shifting in recent years to focus on functional consulting and optimizing client processes. He holds numerous Atlassian certifications in Jira, Confluence, and JSM administration and workflows, as well as Scrum, AWS, and ITIL certifications.

About the show

The BEST ITSM Show by Appfire brings you expert insights for IT service delivery, so your employees and customers have what they need to succeed. Get the right tech and tips for the right job at hand. Look like you’ve come from the future with all your new ITSM smarts. Every episode is a brisk 10 minutes—less time than it takes to provision a laptop or troubleshoot a tech support issue.


For your convenience, here is the transcript of this episode:

What is IT Asset Management (and how do I do it)?

Kerry:  Today we’re going to answer the question what is IT asset management and how do I do it. Here to help us answer that question is Rodney West, professional services lead consultant senior at Isos Technology. Stick around for 10 minutes of ITSM awesome.

Rodney, thanks for being here. Educate me.

Rodney:  Basically, what asset management is from a high level, and I’ll talk a little bit more about the way that we do this in the Atlassian world, is it’s tracking all of your organization’s assets through your IT service requests, who is the owner of the asset, how often has this asset been in for service, where is it in its lifecycle. 

You have stuff with assets where they’re approved, they’re going through procurement, they’re purchased, they’re assigned to somebody, they go through their life and maintenance cycle, and then a lot of assets actually then make it back into the level of we are going to deprecate these assets. So, newer laptops are available, better servers are available, basically whatever kind of assets you’re tracking. 

When I say assets, this is beyond just physical assets, this can also correspond to software, to virtual servers. Sometimes people get hung up on it’s just our desktops, just our laptops, just our mice and keyboards. No. It’s actually the entirety of effectively the hardware and software that your IT group is responsible for controlling. Then you have some stuff where you may look beyond that if you have a facility as part of your organization where you’re actually having to deal with catering, power, or some of those other things that a facilities team or an events coordination team would have to deal with.

At a high level, generally it’s the non-people portion of what you control and are responsible for, and what you may have tickets for and would have lifecycles. I say that, kind of everything has a caveat. A lot of times, you can also consider your people to be an asset. Some organizations don’t like using that term for people. Some people don’t like being referred to assets, so that can get a little touchy there. But the same concepts you bring to your non-people management, you can actually bring to people management as well inside of software.

Kerry:  You mentioned one different type of industry a lot of people don’t necessarily think of when they think about IT needs, and that’s catering. Really, every industry realistically is going to have some need for this. 

Rodney:  That is correct. It’s something we’ve hit on a few of our implementations. We’ll go we need to do our laptops, our hardware and our software, and by the way, we also need tickets there to track a conference room or a ballroom that is being used for a larger event that the organization owns this large facility, and there are different sets of actual physical items and needs for those kinds of rooms. Your sound, your lighting, your chairs, your tables, your podiums. Those for a group like that, like an events team, it’s actually very important for those assets to be tracked as well. As you said, you can extrapolate this to other things, not just hardware.

Kerry:  What’s the worst situation you’ve ever seen, and how do you fix it, in terms of IT asset management? You walked in, and you were like, “Oh boy.” You don’t have to name names. 

Rodney:  I think one of the biggest issues we run into is organizations that haven’t thought about how they’re going to uniquely identify the assets. That usually ends up being a starting point when we’re having the discussions. Serial numbers are kind of an easy thing to go with on that, but you’ll have organizations that may not be tracking to that level. 

They go, “We have this phone, and it’s owned by Bob.” Okay. What are the important pieces of information on this device? “Well, we’re not storing those.” Usually, when we go in and we’re trying to get that stuff over into Jira, it’s actually having the organization figure out what information they would need for that CMDB structure. 

I think that’s the biggest thing is that it has been kind of unwieldy, that information is stored in different areas, or even one of the other common problems is since the organization doesn’t actually have a CMDB first, they have information on assets stored all over the place. You may have some hardware, like laptops, stored over in this spreadsheet, some of them are stored in this database, a few are stored in these tickets, and it’s actually that data aggregation at the beginning that usually ends up being one of the bigger levels of complexity. 

Once you figure that out, then things become a little bit simpler because you put process in place to where we want to continue building up the assets in one point of record. You can feed in from other sources, but you actually do want that one source of truth for all of the assets in the organization.

Kerry:  It’s a situation where you want to start as you mean to go on, but let’s just say things have not been set up correctly. How much effort does it take, how much time to turn things around? It’s a little bit like turning a cruise ship, or can you make some changes that will help them quickly get things under control?

Rodney:  It kind of depends on how disparate the information is and how long they’ve let it go uncontrolled, I think. A lot of the cases, it’s not an end of the world thing. It’s let’s go in and let’s figure out what our minimum information we need on these assets is, and then we can start building up, and we can build up asset classes. 

You start with something like hardware as your high level. Let’s get all of our hardware in. Then you can approach that in phases. We think we have our hardware figured out, now let’s break this down. We’re using at reasoning, on the Jira side we’re using attributes to differentiate between servers, laptops, etcetera. Except then the information that you want to capture on each of those may be different, you have tablets and stuff in there, so let’s go ahead and actually instead of having those be drop downs or checkboxes, let’s have those be first order object types. Now let’s move all of our laptops over to this object type to contract the information more closely.

I think it’s that level of start broad and then narrow down. It’s kind of like whenever you take courses on beginning to draw. One of the things they teach a lot of times is don’t worry about drawing all of the details when you start. The first thing you do is without taking your pen off the paper, draw the outside of the coffee cup you’re looking at, or whatever your test object is, and then you do the details.

Those consolidation efforts, that’s kind of how that it is. Let’s go ahead and draw the outline of what we’re doing. We have our higher level, our hardware, our software, whatever we’re tracking, and then over time let’s have that organic growth to where we do that differentiation as we go down through and is this something that does require a different object type, is it something that requires outside of on the asset management side an object type, is it something that requires a special request type on an IT portal. 

Kerry:  Or an app integration, right? There’s the native functionality out of the box, and then there’s the other things that maybe you want to do for something like catering that doesn’t fit, so you need to integrate some things.

Rodney:  Yes. I got a question the other day, “How do we handle barcode scanning?” Well, you’re going to have to do some work, there’s going to have some special work on your side to actually use whatever barcode scanner software you have. This is all going to have an Atlassian bend to it from what I’m going to be talking about here. 

Basically, you pull that in, and then you’re going to have to have an importer inside of your asset management side of Jira Service Management. Then what’s going to happen is you’re probably going to have that barcode scanner is going to push stuff down, and then you’re going to make a rest API call into JSM to say pull the new set of records and pull them in here. That’s where you get that integration over time. 

But yes, it is that constant refinement that you’re actually going to have to do with the systems.

Kerry:  I have to point out that at Appfire.com we have many things you can integrate with Atlassian apps. You can also learn a lot more about this topic at the Isos Tech Blog. 

Rodney, thanks for educating us all about IT asset management. I appreciate it. I had a great time. I hope you’ll come back.

Rodney:  That was quick, that went really fast.

Kerry:  That’s The Best ITSM Show by Appfire.

Rodney:  I like to talk.

Kerry:  We’ll see you next time. You can find more episodes at Hub.Appfire.com.

Last updated: 2022-08-04

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