Asset Lifecycle Management Best Practices
Information Technology Asset Management or ITAM is a predetermined set of practices employed by a business to support strategic decision making and improving spending within the current IT infrastructure. A sound plan and streamlined procedures are imperative to tracking and managing all the IT-related assets. ITAM is necessary to cut down additional maintenance costs, improve efficiency, reduce security risks, be ready for audits, maintain optimum inventory levels etc. This, in turn, helps other Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) processes by increasing their efficiency, working out perfect budgets and making the best purchase decisions.
Best Practice Sharing
1. Identify Complete Inventory
Businesses tend to have a lot of inventory. Some of it is IT resources and others are not. So the starting point has to be discovering all your business IT assets. They could be in office, on the floor or lying as spare inventory. Once you have the complete IT inventory you will you 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 assets are intangible (software assets, cloud assets etc.) and yet constitute a part of your IT network. To make work easy, break down the assets into different categories like -
- Mobile Devices
- Hardware (user workstation) and Software (programs and applications)
- Network Infrastructure (servers)
- Communication infrastructure (routers)
- Cloud assets
2. Prioritizing 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.
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, fines will have to be paid in lieu of missing documentation etc. 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
Technological changes have made tracking easy. Use these technological advantages 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 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.
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. 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 if done correctly makes work error free. In order to have an efficient asset management lifecycle automate all that can be. The entire process does not have to be automated but those tasks that are repetitive should be. Reporting, patching, application deployment etc. can be automated by using electronic ITAM platforms. This will save a lot of your employee’s 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 which can be compared against the set standards to gauge performance.
The key is to identify those metrics that really matter. These would include network configuration, licensing, financial data, metrics linked to business objectives, user information etc. 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.
8. Change Implementation
Time and again it has been stressed upon us that technology changes frequently. When that happens, all that is linked to it either have to upgrade 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.
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 less is more. In the end, doing IT management step by step is important but 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.