ITAM, or IT Asset Management, is the practice of intelligently tracking the investments businesses make in technology from purchase to end of life.
The International Association of IT Asset Managers (IAITAM) defines IT Asset Management (ITAM) as “a set of business practices that incorporates IT assets across the business units within the organization. It joins the financial, inventory, contractual and risk management responsibilities to manage the overall life cycle of these assets including tactical and strategic decision making.”1
In short, it means all the hardware, software applications, licenses, and other technology assets owned by an organization are accounted for and are being used, maintained, and upgraded as needed. ITAM is almost equally about what is not being used or no longer needed to reduce expenses and ensure employees are using the most current solutions.
IT asset management is important to businesses of all sizes. In this article, we define what constitutes an IT asset, explore the importance and benefits, the IT asset lifecycle, and why you might need asset management software to assist you in staying on top of your IT infrastructure.
An effective asset management solution will do more than inventory your IT hardware and software license commitments. It can:
ITAM helps control wasteful spending on “shadow IT”, minimizing redundant equipment, software applications, and licenses purchased without IT approval.
An asset lifecycle management plan should cover the following:
These questions must be considered when building an asset lifecycle management plan.
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If you’re a startup or a small business, manually tracking company IT assets internally is possible, but it’s probably not the best use of your time. Your efforts are better spent focusing on building the business, not handling the minutia of asset management. As the business grows, it will eventually become too much to handle without a salaried employee to manage the task.
Mid-sized businesses and large enterprises have too many devices, software titles, and licenses to manage manually. It can be a huge undertaking to ensure that all 3rd party software apps used throughout the organization are in compliance with licensing agreements, and that all the printers and copiers receive scheduled maintenance and supplies on time.
It requires a lot of staff resources to manage all that with a spreadsheet.
An automated asset management tool relieves business owners and IT personnel the burden of tracking IT assets in every form. It discovers and inventories all devices in use at an organization, identifies where these assets are located, performs software license management, patch and version management, and can schedule maintenance for hardware assets. By tracking the age and calculating the depreciation of assets, ITAM can improve a company’s bottom line by making proper decisions on when to retire assets.
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The first step for any organization is to commit to the practice. Part of this first step involves designating areas of responsibility. Who will ultimately be responsible (accountable)?
That individual will need to determine how best to do it. As noted above, IT asset management tools can save a lot of time over using a spreadsheet. The challenge for many organizations, however, is having the resources – both in terms of staffing and budget – to implement a new system.
Today, many organizations are turning to third-party IT management services partners to assist with the asset management. These IT managed services companies often have the application and the staff practiced in asset management for a fee that is comparable (or even less) than doing it in-house. For example, our Ricoh IT services professionals do this for many companies.