Getting the ITSM Basics in Place, Part 4: Asset Management

ITSM Asset ManagementBy Lonnie Sanders III, Associate

Quick! If you had an urgent need to know the details of the routers at your Cleveland facility, or exactly what sensitive company information can be accessed from a company laptop that was just stolen from a hotel room in Shenzhen, how long would it take you to access this information?

If you have IT Asset Management in place, you can pull up the necessary data in a matter of seconds. Otherwise…well, whether or not you’d be able to find this information at all is anyone’s guess. 

IT Asset Management can be invaluable

In our previous articles in this series we delved into why IT Service Management (ITSM) matters and provided an overview of getting four of the ITSM basics in place—Incident Management, Change and Problem Management, and Knowledge Management. In this final article in the series I’d like to talk about one more piece of the “ITSM basics” puzzle: IT Asset Management.

As the name implies, IT Asset Management (ITAM) is about having an inventory of all of your IT assets, meaning all of your IT infrastructure, so that you can better manage it all. IT Asset Management enables you to manage the entire lifecycle of your IT assets so you will know what you have, where it is located and all of the details about it such as model, serial number, location, firmware and software versions, lease or license information and more. Depending on your business needs, this inventory can include everything from servers, network equipment and software to laptops, company-issued cell phones, desktop monitors and even specialized equipment.

IT Asset Management is important because it can reduce your risk, lower your IT costs, improve productivity and help your operations run more smoothly. With IT Asset Management in place you can:

  • Give your helpdesk a head start addressing issues. For instance, if someone’s laptop breaks, your helpdesk can quickly access all of the pertinent information about it. What operating system was it running? What software was on it? What company systems and data did it have access to? And more.

  • Better protect sensitive data, such as by knowing what to shut down or closely monitor when a laptop is lost or stolen.

  • Improve your Change Management processes. If a proposed change will impact an infrastructure asset, such as a server, your Change Advisory Board will have easy access to relevant information about that asset. This helps make that change more effective and informed.

  • Be proactive about equipment lease negotiations and software license renewals. After the system alerts you to the fact that something is about to expire, you’ll enjoy the convenience of having all of the relevant information in one place.

  • Reduce your infrastructure spend. If each department has been making purchases on their own without any real oversight, IT Asset Management can help you consolidate so that you know what assets are in your environment, find and reduce excess software licenses, and consolidate different systems that perform the same or similar functions. It also enables you to negotiate better pricing with volume discounting and preferred vendor(s) selection.

  • Have proactive systems knowledge. With ITAM you can have real-time knowledge about the uptime, performance and stability of your technology environment.

How do you get IT Asset Management in place?

The first step is to make a business-based decision regarding exactly what you want to inventory. For example, some organizations like to track every cell phone and monitor; others do not.

Step two is to determine how all of this data will be stored. There are a number of repository systems available that make storing and accessing your IT asset data easy.

Next, of course, you need to inventory your assets and figure out what you have. For this, there are both automated and manual approaches. Chances are you’ll need to do some of each. For the manual approach you literally walk around your various facilities and inventory what is there. Go to your server rooms, your network closets, etc. For assets that are not all sitting in one place you’ll probably also need to check your financial records to see what’s been purchased, leased or licensed. Doing all of this is really the “heavy lifting” aspect of the project. 

For the automated approach you can install a functional system on your network and have it troll through to see what’s there. These systems, which are called scanners, can tell you what you have and what is on it. If this results in what appears to be an incomplete list you can then use the manual approach to both “fill in the blanks” and validate the information that was created. Of course, this works both ways—the automated approach can be used to validate and augment the information discovered using the manual approach. 

What about your outsourced cloud-based IT assets?

For cloud-based software you’ll want to include all of your licensing information in your IT Asset Management system.

For cloud-based infrastructure, such as your use of AWS or Google Cloud, you should be able to connect your repository to their repository’s accounting of what they’re providing to you. This way you can still access all of the data in one place. In addition, you’d want to keep the information about your licenses for this infrastructure in your IT Asset Management system.  

This is not a “one and done” project

One important note—getting this in place can be a very heavy lift. The big “gotcha” here is that once you have an inventory of your IT assets nicely catalogued in a user-friendly repository, you have to keep it all updated. You can’t just do this one time and hope that it will remain accurate for the life of the equipment! 

Our recommendation is that you install a system that periodically automatically checks and validates your IT asset inventory. A “bonus” benefit of having an automated system scanning your environment is that if an unauthorized piece of equipment comes onto your system, you’ll be alerted. So this also reduces your security risks. 

Today, in the face of digital transformation, technology improvements and increasing competition, managing assets is critical to your business strategy, and critical to maintaining your competitive advantage.

Conclusion

IT Asset Management will help your organization manage uptime, costs and risks, and improve customer satisfaction. Additionally, ITAM will help your organization with strategic decision making surrounding the total cost of ownership of your technology assets, including both hardware and software.

On the other hand, leaving IT Asset Management out of your ITSM practice will minimize your organization’s ability to proactively maintain your environment, respond to technical issues and keep your technology assets at their highest levels of efficiency and performance. 

If you need help getting this in place, please reach out to us. ITSM is one of our areas of expertise.

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