A sound plan and streamlined procedures are imperative to tracking and managing all of your IT-related assets.
Best Asset Lifecycle Management Practices for IT-Related Assets
Information Technology Asset Management (ITAM) stands as a cornerstone for businesses aiming to harness the power of technology more effectively. Essentially, ITAM is a predetermined set of practices that a company employs, not just for the sake of managing its technological assets but also to support strategic decision-making. It plays a pivotal role in refining the spending within the existing IT infrastructure, ensuring that businesses get the most value out of their technology investments.
From the point an asset is acquired to when it’s eventually retired or replaced (disposal asset), each phase or stage asset is meticulously managed to maximise its utility and value. Properly executed ITAM can help a business:
Reduce additional maintenance costs: With ITAM’s systematic approach, companies can spot potential issues early, leading to better maintenance and reduced expenses.
Enhance efficiency: With the right tools and practices, ITAM can streamline processes, helping the company optimise the use of its technology assets.
Diminish security risks: A more organised asset lifecycle management system invariably results in fewer vulnerabilities. Knowing what’s in your data ecosystem, how it works, and the impact of each product or software is crucial for risk management.
Prepare for audits: With everything catalogued and tracked, ITAM makes the audit process smoother and less daunting, ensuring you’re always ready to start an evaluation without scrambling to gather information.
Maintain ideal inventory levels: By keeping a finger on the pulse of what technology assets are at home within the company, businesses can avoid unnecessary purchases or duplications.
Furthermore, ITAM seamlessly integrates with other Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) processes, enhancing their efficiency manifold. With the insights drawn from ITAM, businesses can carve out perfect budgets, make informed purchase decisions, and create a sustainable technology ecosystem.
Given the increasing complexity of IT environments, the need for a robust asset lifecycle management solution has never been more pronounced. With a comprehensive ITAM strategy, businesses can not just respond to technological challenges but anticipate them. Whether it’s ensuring privacy compliance, addressing a potential risk, or simply reaching out to a contact for technical support, ITAM ensures that everything is in place for a smooth, efficient, and secure technological journey. Here are some ways to improve your asset management lifecycle plan.
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1. Identify Complete Inventory
Businesses tend to have a lot of inventory. Some of them are IT resources, and others are not. So the starting point has to be discovering all your business IT assets. They could be in the office, on the floor or lying as spare inventory.
Once you have the complete IT inventory, you will see what you actually have. It is then compared with the stored data to know what is missing. Asset discovery is a typical process because some are intangible, such as software assets and cloud assets, yet they constitute a part of your IT network. To make work easy, break down the assets into different categories like:
1. Mobile Devices
2. Hardware (user workstation) and Software (programs and applications)
3. Network Infrastructure (servers)
4. Communication infrastructure (routers)
5. Cloud assets
2. Prioritising Assets
All assets are important but their degree of importance varies. When you are just starting with an asset management lifecycle program it is best to start with those that are most valuable to the business and then move down the ladder.
Determine which assets are critical to your company. It may not necessarily be a device but a software program. Don’t overlook anything based on their tangibility and size.
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3. License Management
Once all critical assets are identified, they need to be compared against the most current licenses held against them. Licenses that have expired will have to be renewed, where the asset has no corresponding license new ones will have to be purchased and fines will have to be paid in lieu of missing documentation.
License management helps in getting rid of all old and obsolete licenses so that what remains is what really matters. It reduces paperwork and increases compliance.
A complete and true inventory of licenses held by a company will help by sending alerts when renewal becomes due so that there are no lapses. Not being compliant in this context will lead to heavy penalties.
4. Tag and Barcode
New technology has made tracking easy. Use it to reduce physical work. Giving codes to all the assets and checking them physically every time is a waste of effort.
Instead, tagging and barcoding can be used and linked to either GPS or another similar program, which will send regular signals to monitor the health and location of the asset. This way, nobody has to go back and forth to check them. If the location changes, an alert will be sent by the network to the concerned person.
This is what happens in a clothing store. All clothes are tagged. These tags are removed only when the item is purchased. If anybody tries to take any piece of clothing with the tag still attached an alarm sounds. Similarly, tags and barcodes will work for the IT assets.
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5. Continuous Tracking
Tracking is not a one-time activity to be performed on a fixed date every year. Instead, it is something that has to happen continuously and more frequently.
Continuous tracking eliminates waste, reduces downtime, brings down incidents of theft and keeps the asset well-maintained. As a business owner, you need to set up a consistent reporting process that is always executed efficiently.
6. Automate and Outsource
Automation that’s done correctly makes work error free. In order to have an efficient asset management lifecycle, automate all that can be automated. The entire process does not have to be automated but those tasks that are repetitive should be.
Reporting, patching and application deployment can be automated using electronic ITAM platforms. This will save a lot of your employees’ time.
If you are short on manpower, you can also outsource the entire process. It will reduce the burden of work on your employees and they can be used elsewhere when there is demand. To ensure complete compliance and increase cost-effectiveness, you can automate as well as outsource the process.
7. Determine Metrics
Without measuring, there is no way to know how your business fares. Only when you compare your results against the business metrics or company standards will you know how well you perform.
Asset lifecycle management helps gather data that can be compared against the set standards to gauge performance.
The key is to identify those metrics that really matter. These may include network configuration, licensing, financial data, metrics linked to business objectives and user information. These key metrics will also give a fair idea of the asset depreciation rate, average fines paid, compliance failures, the average cost of maintenance, etc.
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8. Change Implementation
Technology changes frequently. When that happens, all that is linked to it either must be upgraded or modified. Adaptation is the key to survival in business.
Continuously updating your asset database will always be to your advantage. Being able to respond to change as quickly as possible will always work to your advantage.
The Final Word
Doing ITAM just because it is a requirement of business is not the right approach. First and foremost, understand its importance and identify the ways in which it can assist you. Use a tool that helps meet all your data gathering and reporting requirements.
There is no scarcity of ITSM tools, evaluate each before choosing one. Do not fill your reports with unnecessary details. When reporting, remember that less is more.
In the end, doing IT management step by step is important but what’s more important than that is knowing how each step supports the other in the bigger picture. The final thing to remember is why you are doing ITAM. You are doing it to mitigate risks and build business value.