top of page

Articles

IT Asset Management


IT Asset management illustration

Introduction

Organisations must maintain an optimal balance between technological assets and business requirements. Anchoring this equilibrium is the "IT Asset Management" (ITSM) practice, an integral practice within the ITIL Version 4 framework.


The IT Asset Management (ITAM) practice ensures that an organisation's IT assets (hardware, software, and pertinent information resources) are accounted for, deployed judiciously, and utilised efficiently throughout its lifecycle.


Its significance cannot be overstated as it directly impacts service planning, budgeting, and risk management - fundamental components laying the foundation for robust IT service management frameworks.

IT Asset Management Maturity Scale

The following criteria outline the various stages of IT Asset Management maturity and indicate where an organisation might stand.

Level

Description

Indicators

1-Adhoc

Initial, informal processes

  • No formal processes

  • Asset management tasks are inconsistent

  • Reliance on individual knowledge

2-Basic

Initial development of asset management processes

  • Some documented procedures

  • Sporadic asset tracking

  • Minimal compliance and security considerations

3-Structured

Defined processes and standards

  • Consistent asset lifecycle management

  • Standardised processes across departments

  • Initial integration of IT asset management tools

4-Managed

Managed and measurable

  • Comprehensive IT asset database

  • Regular audits and performance reviews

  • Focus on cost control and efficiency improvements

5-Optimising

Continuous improvement

  • Proactive asset management strategies

  • Advanced analytics for decision-making

  • Integration with other IT management processes

An Overview of IT Asset Management

Purpose and Significance

IT Asset Management within the ITIL Version 4 framework offers a structured approach for managing and optimising IT assets across the organisation.


By providing visibility into the quantity, location, and condition of these assets, this practice aids in effectively forecasting asset requirements, aligning IT resources with business goals, and mitigating compliance and security risks.


It renders a holistic view, enabling organisations to make informed decisions that improve service delivery and customer satisfaction while achieving significant cost savings.


Asset Management also plays a pivotal role in establishing governance and accountability by ensuring that the organisation adheres to legal and regulatory standards concerning IT assets.


Furthermore, by analysing asset data, organisations can identify opportunities for rationalising and consolidating their IT asset base, thus enhancing operational efficiency and environmental sustainability.


Impact on Organisations

Implementing IT Asset Management practices per the ITIL Version 4 guidelines offers myriad benefits.


Improved asset utilisation reduces wastage and unnecessary expenditures, while effective lifecycle management of IT assets prolongs their useful life, ensuring that the business extracts maximum value from its investments.


Moreover, harmonising IT asset management with strategic business objectives underpins the agility and responsiveness of organisations to market changes and customer demands.


Diagram illustrating the role of IT Asset Management in ITIL
Diagram illustrating the role of IT Asset Management in ITIL

Example of IT Asset Management Within an Organisation

A company facing frequent software license compliance issues and underutilised hardware resources.

By adopting the IT Asset Management practice, the company can maintain a comprehensive inventory of its software licenses, ensuring compliance and avoiding hefty fines.

Simultaneously, insight into hardware utilisation rates allows for the redistribution or decommissioning of underused assets, translating into substantial cost savings and optimal resource use.

Asset Management facilitates the organisation's transition from a reactive position towards a more strategic and proactive IT governance model.

Main Objectives of IT Asset Management

The core objectives of IT Asset Management are centred around optimising the lifecycle of IT assets to enhance their value to the business.


Here's a summarised table:

Objective

Description

Asset Lifecycle Optimisation

Ensuring IT assets are effectively managed throughout their lifecycle, from procurement to disposal.

Cost Efficiency

Minimising the costs associated with acquiring, maintaining, and disposing of IT assets.

Risk Management

Identifying and mitigating risks related to IT assets, including compliance and security risks.

Strategic Decision Support

Providing accurate and timely information to support strategic decision-making regarding IT assets.

Enhanced Service Delivery

Leveraging IT asset management to improve the quality and efficiency of IT service delivery.

Scope of IT Asset Management

The scope of ITAM extends across various dimensions of IT assets within an organisation. This encompasses the physical components, software, and digital assets.


Below is a table outlining the key areas of its scope:

Scope Aspect

Description

Hardware Assets

This includes servers, computers, mobile devices, and other physical technology components.

Software Assets

Encompassing licensed software applications, operating systems, and server software licenses.

Cloud Assets

Assets hosted in the cloud, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).

Digital Information

Data stored in various forms within the organisation's assets, including databases and files.

People and Skills

While not traditionally considered 'assets', the skills and capabilities of the IT workforce are crucial resources managed within this scope.


Applicability in Real-world Scenarios


In practical terms, IT Asset Management can be applied in numerous scenarios to provide tangible benefits to an organisation. For instance:


  • Cost Reduction: By maintaining accurate records of all IT assets and their lifecycle stages, organisations can avoid unnecessary purchases, reduce maintenance costs, and optimise the timing of asset refreshes.

  • Compliance and Risk Management: Ensuring software licenses are up to date and in compliance with terms of service helps avoid legal penalties. Similarly, managing the lifecycle of assets ensures outdated and unsupported assets, which pose security risks, are appropriately dealt with.

  • Strategic Planning: Accurate ITAM data supports strategic planning efforts, such as infrastructure investments, cloud migration initiatives, and IT service expansion or consolidation plans.

Key Concepts and Terminology


  • IT Asset: Any valuable component that can contribute to delivering an IT product or service. It can be a physical component (like a laptop or server) or a non-physical asset (like software licenses or intellectual property).

  • Asset Lifecycle: The stages an IT asset goes through from acquisition to disposal, including procurement, deployment, operation, maintenance, and disposal.

  • Configuration Item (CI): A specific IT asset (or group of assets) that must be managed to deliver an IT service. Every CI is an IT asset, but not every IT asset is considered a CI.

  • Asset Register: A comprehensive list that includes all IT assets, detailing their configuration, status, and history within the organisation.

  • Asset Management Policy: A set of guidelines that dictate how IT assets should be managed throughout their lifecycle to ensure they meet the organisation's business needs.

Foundational Principles

The practice of IT Asset Management is built on several foundational principles that guide organisations in managing their IT assets effectively:


  1. Lifecycle Management: Managing assets effectively from procurement to disposal, ensuring optimal value is derived from each asset while minimising costs.

  2. Cost Efficiency: Ensuring that IT assets are procured, used, and disposed of cost-effectively, optimising the return on investment for the organisation.

  3. Risk Management: Identifying and mitigating risks associated with IT assets, including compliance risks, operational risks, and financial risks.

  4. Information Accuracy: Maintaining accurate and up-to-date information on IT assets, which is critical for decision-making, compliance, and risk management.

  5. Alignment with Business Objectives: Ensuring that the management of IT assets is fully aligned with the organisation's overall business goals and objectives.


Lifecycle of an IT Asset


The Lifecycle of An IT Asset
The lifecycle of an IT Asset

Implementation Example

Imagine a company implementing ITIL 4 IT Asset Management. They start by establishing an asset management policy defining the lifecycle stages for different types of assets like laptops, servers, and software applications. They then create a comprehensive asset register, capturing essential details for each asset. As part of their lifecycle management, when a laptop reaches the end of its useful life, it's evaluated for potential reuse, repurposing, or recycling. A decision is made based on cost efficiency and environmental considerations, demonstrating the application of several core principles of IT Asset Management.



Processes & Activities of IT Asset Management

Processes

ITIL Version 4 does not strictly prescribe specific processes as previous versions did but focuses on practices.


Within IT Asset Management, the processes can generally be grouped as:


1.         Planning: Establishing the ITAM strategy, policies, and scope.

2.         Procurement and Acquisition: Assessing, selecting, and purchasing IT assets.

3.         Deployment: Overseeing the distribution and installation of IT assets.

4.         Operation and Maintenance: Managing the daily use and upkeep of IT assets.

5.         Retirement and Disposal: Ensuring secure, compliant disposal or asset repurposing.



IT Asset Management Process Flow
IT Asset Management Process Flow

Activities

The execution of IT Asset Management involves several key activities:

Activity

Description

Asset Inventorying

Creating and maintaining a detailed inventory of IT assets.

Asset Classification

Categorising assets based on their type, importance, and sensitivity.

Asset Tracking

Monitoring the status, location, and condition of assets throughout their lifecycle.

Risk Management

Identifying and addressing risks associated with IT assets.

License Management

Managing software licenses to ensure compliance and optimise usage.

Cost Management

Tracking and optimising the costs associated with IT assets.

Performance Monitoring

Assessing how effectively IT assets support business objectives.

Roles and Responsibilities:

The practice of IT Asset Management involves various roles, each with specific responsibilities:

Role

Responsibilities

IT Asset Manager

Overall responsibility for the ITAM practice, including strategy, policies, and performance.

Asset Analyst

Supports daily operations by maintaining asset data and assisting in lifecycle management.

Procurement Manager

Oversees the acquisition of new IT assets and manages vendor relationships.

Financial Analyst

Manages budgeting, forecasting, and cost analysis for IT assets.

Compliance Officer

Ensures ITAM practices uphold data protection, compliance, and licensing requirements.


Example Scenario:

To illustrate how these components interact, consider a hypothetical example where an organisation decides to deploy a new software application across multiple departments.

  1. Planning: The IT Asset Manager begins by defining the scope of this deployment within the ITAM strategy, considering the number of licenses required and the departments involved.

  2. Procurement and Acquisition: The Procurement Manager works with vendors to purchase the necessary software licenses, ensuring the best value and compliance with licensing terms.

  3. Deployment: Asset Analysts assist in distributing the software to the relevant departments and tracking the process in the asset inventory system.

  4. Operation and Maintenance: The IT Asset Manager and Analysts monitor license usage and software performance, addressing any issues that arise to maintain operational effectiveness.

  5. Retirement and Disposal: Eventually, when the software becomes obsolete or no longer meets the organisation's needs, the IT Asset Manager plans for its responsible retirement, ensuring all data is securely removed and licenses are appropriately terminated.

The Financial Analyst will provide cost analysis throughout this process, ensuring the software deployment remains within the budget. In contrast, the Compliance Officer will meet all licensing and regulatory requirements.


The cooperation among these roles and activities within the framework of ITIL Version 4's IT Asset Management practice ensures that IT assets are effectively managed throughout their lifecycle, supporting the organisation's objectives while optimising costs and mitigating risks.


How IT Asset Management Supports Organisational Improvements

By ensuring an accurate understanding and management of IT and software assets throughout their lifecycle, ITAM provides significant strategic and operational benefits.


Key Benefits of IT Asset Management

1. Boosted Efficiency

Example: Consider a large corporation operating in over 50 countries with diverse IT assets dispersed across its global offices.


Implementing IT Asset Management enables the organisation to centralise and automate the tracking of all IT assets. This centralisation eradicates redundancies and streamlines operations, allowing quicker and more informed decision-making processes.


Asset procurement and deployment timelines can be significantly reduced, demonstrating improved efficiency in operations.


2. Enhanced Effectiveness

Example: A medium-sized financial services firm struggles with balancing its IT budget and making optimal use of its assets.


Adopting IT Asset Management practices, they deploy a systematic approach to assess and manage the value of their IT assets throughout their life cycle.


This ensures that investments align with business goals and bring maximum value. As a result, the organisation reports a palpable improvement in its return on investment, underlining the effectiveness of applying IT Asset Management principles.


3. Superior Service Quality

Example: A provider of technology solutions for healthcare, challenged by recurring service outages and software compliance issues, implements IT Asset Management to help it maintain an accurate inventory of all its assets, status, and compliance requirements.


With transparent insight into asset utilisation and performance, the company could proactively manage and mitigate risks associated with asset failures or non-compliance. Consequently, there is a marked improvement in service continuity and compliance rates, directly translating to higher service quality.


Implementing IT Asset Management

Implementing the IT Asset Management (ITAM) practice as part of the ITIL Version 4 framework involves a systematic approach to deploying, operating, maintaining, upgrading, and disposing of assets cost-effectively while ensuring that IT infrastructure aligns with the business goals.


Below are guidelines, including advice on getting started, best practices, and tips for a successful implementation, along with common challenges and solutions.


Implementation Steps

1. Define ITAM Objectives and Scope

  • Objectives: Clearly define what you aim to achieve with ITAM. This could include cost reduction, risk management, compliance, or optimising asset utilisation.

  • Scope: Determine the types of assets (hardware, software, cloud resources, etc.) included in the ITAM process.


2. Gain Stakeholder Buy-in

  • Identify Stakeholders: List all parties affected by ITAM processes, including IT staff, finance, procurement, and end-users.

  • Communicate Benefits: Explain how ITAM will benefit each stakeholder group, focusing on cost savings, improved efficiency, and compliance.


3. Develop an ITAM Policy

  • Policy Framework: Create a comprehensive ITAM policy that outlines procedures, roles, responsibilities, and standards for managing IT assets.

  • Compliance Requirements: Ensure the policy meets all legal and regulatory compliance requirements related to IT assets.


4. Inventory Existing Assets

  • Asset Discovery: Use automated tools to discover and inventory all existing IT assets across the organisation.

  • Asset Register: Develop a centralised asset register with detailed information on each asset, such as purchase details, location, user, and lifecycle stage.


5. Implement an ITAM Tool

  • Tool Selection: Choose an ITAM tool that fits your organisation's needs and integrates well with existing systems.

  • Configuration: Configure the ITAM tool to track and manage the lifecycle of assets as defined in your ITAM policy.


6. Define Lifecycle Management Processes

  • Acquisition to Disposal: Establish processes for each stage of an asset's lifecycle, including acquisition, deployment, maintenance, and disposal.

  • Continuous Monitoring: Set up mechanisms for continuous monitoring and management of assets to ensure compliance and optimise usage.


7. Train and Communicate with Users

  • Training Programmes: Develop training programmes for all users involved in the ITAM process, focusing on policy, procedures, and tool usage.

  • Communication Plan: Regularly communicate the importance of ITAM and updates on the programme to all stakeholders.


8. Review and Audit

  • Regular Reviews: Conduct regular reviews of the ITAM processes and policies to ensure they remain effective and aligned with organisational goals.

  • Audits: Perform periodic audits of IT assets to verify the accuracy of the asset register and compliance with the ITAM policy.


9. Continuous Improvement

  • Feedback Mechanism: Implement a feedback mechanism to gather insights from users and stakeholders on the ITAM process.

  • Iterative Improvements: Use feedback and audit outcomes to make iterative improvements to the ITAM programme.


10. Integration with Other ITIL Processes

  • Service Management: Ensure ITAM is integrated with other ITIL processes, such as incident management, change management, and service level management, to enhance overall IT service delivery.


Best Practices for IT Asset Management

Asset Inventory: Create a comprehensive inventory of all IT assets. Tools like Configuration Management Databases (CMDBs) can automate this process.


Lifecycle Management: Implement processes for every stage of an asset's life, from procurement to disposal. Ensure there are clear guidelines for each stage.


Policy and Process Development: Develop clear ITAM policies and processes. These should include guidelines for procurement, usage, maintenance, and disposal of assets.


Regular Audits and Reviews: Conduct audits of IT assets to ensure compliance and identify areas for improvement. Audits can also help in detecting unauthorised assets.


Use ITAM Software: Utilise ITAM software to automate and manage your assets efficiently. This software can track asset performance, manage licenses, and generate reports.


Tips for Successful Implementation

Integrate with Existing Practices: ITAM should not stand alone but be integrated with other IT practices and business processes.


Continuously Improve: Adopt a culture of continuous improvement. Utilise feedback from audits and stakeholder reviews to refine ITAM processes.


Maintain Training and Awareness: Ensure all relevant personnel are trained on ITAM policies and tools. Regular awareness campaigns can help maintain compliance and efficiency.


Common Challenges and Solutions

Lack of Visibility into IT Assets

Implement a centralised ITAM system or CMDB. This ensures all assets are documented and their status is updated in real-time. For example, a company might use a CMDB to track all its IT assets across different locations.


Resistance to Change

Engage stakeholders early and communicate the benefits of the ITAM implementation, such as cost savings and improved compliance. Training and regular updates can also help alleviate resistance.


Keeping Up with Technology Changes

Implement a continuous review and adaptation process of the ITAM strategy. Staying informed about market trends and new technologies can help predict future asset requirements.


Ensuring Compliance

Conduct regular compliance audits and use ITAM software to manage licenses. Automated tools can flag non-compliance issues before they become significant problems.


Common Tools and Technologies

Tool/Technology

Description

ServiceNow

Provides comprehensive ITAM (IT Asset Management) solutions, integrating asset lifecycle management with other services.

BMC Helix Discovery

Offers asset discovery and dependency mapping, crucial for managing the lifecycle of IT assets and services.

Ivanti Asset Manager

Designed to manage IT assets efficiently, offering features for asset tracking, reporting, and optimising asset use.

ManageEngine AssetExplorer

Helps monitor and manage network assets from the planning phase to disposal.

JIRA Service Management

While primarily known for service and operations management, JIRA offers asset tracking capabilities, especially useful in software and digital asset management.

These tools facilitate various aspects of IT Asset Management, from tracking and managing the lifecycle of assets to integrating asset data with other IT Service Management processes.


Integration with Other ITIL Practices and External Frameworks

Integrating "IT Asset Management" with other ITIL practices and external frameworks is pivotal for achieving streamlined operations and delivering value to the business.


Some of the key integrations include:


Service Configuration Management: Ensures that assets are adequately recorded in the Configuration Management Database (CMDB). This establishes a single source of truth for asset information, vital for other practices such as Change Enablement, Incident Management, and Problem Management.


Change Enablement: IT Asset Management provides accurate asset information, which is crucial for assessing the impact of proposed changes.


Information Security Management: Asset information is integral for identifying the assets needing protection and determining the appropriate security controls.


Incident and Problem Management: Knowledge of assets, configurations, and dependencies helps resolve incidents and problems more efficiently.


Furthermore, external frameworks like ISO/IEC 27001 (for information security management) and COBIT (for governance and business focus) can integrate with IT Asset Management to enhance regulatory compliance and align IT services with business goals.



A diagram of how IT Asset Management Integrates With Other Pracitces
A diagram of how IT Asset Management Integrates With Other Pracitces


Selecting the right tools or technologies and understanding how "IT Asset Management" integrates within the broader ITIL practices and external frameworks is essential for an organisation's success. This ensures that IT assets are managed efficiently throughout their lifecycle, contributing to the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the IT service management process.


Key Performance Indicators for IT Asset Management

To effectively measure the success and efficiency of Asset Management, it's vital to identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that offer quantitative data on how well assets are being managed throughout their lifecycle. IT Asset Management focuses on maximising value while controlling costs and risks associated with IT assets.


Below, we look at various KPIs crucial for assessing ITAM's effectiveness and how leveraging feedback and metrics can drive continuous improvement within the practice.

Here's a table of KPIs relevant to IT Asset Management:

KPI

Description

Asset Utilisation Rate

Measures the extent to which IT assets are used efficiently within the organisation.

Cost per Asset

Calculates the total cost of ownership (TCO) per asset, including acquisition, maintenance, and disposal costs.

Compliance Rate

Assesses compliance with legal, regulatory, and software licensing requirements.

Asset Lifecycle Value

Reflects the value an asset generates throughout its lifecycle, helping make informed replacement or renewal decisions.

Incident Rate Due to Asset Failure

Tracks the number of incidents or service interruptions caused by asset failures or malfunctions.

Asset Turnover Rate

Evaluates the effectiveness with which assets are managed by measuring how often assets under management are refreshed or replaced.


Using Feedback and Metrics for Continuous Improvement


Feedback and metrics derived from these KPIs can significantly contribute to the continuous improvement of IT Asset Management processes.


Here are hypothetical examples illustrating how these metrics could lead to identifiable improvements:


Asset Utilisation Rate Improvements

If the asset utilisation rate is low, efforts can be made to reallocate assets more efficiently or dispose of underutilised assets, freeing up resources.


Cost per Asset Reduction

Tracking the cost per asset can identify opportunities to streamline procurement processes or negotiate better terms with suppliers, effectively reducing the TCO.


Enhancing Compliance Rates

A low compliance rate would indicate a need for stricter policy enforcement or additional training on compliance requirements, thereby reducing legal and financial risks.


Maximising Asset Lifecycle Value

By analysing the lifecycle value of assets, organisations can optimise the timing of asset upgrades or disposals to maximise value and minimise costs.


Reducing Incident Rates Due to Asset Failure

A high incidence rate could prompt a review of maintenance schedules or the quality of assets being procured to improve reliability and service quality.


Improving Asset Turnover Rate

Observing and adjusting the asset turnover rate can ensure that technology refresh cycles are aligned with industry best practices, thereby maintaining operational efficiency and competitiveness.


Continuous improvement in IT Asset Management is facilitated by regularly monitoring these KPIs and applying the insights gained to refine ITAM strategies and processes. This measurement, analysis, and adjustment cycle helps organisations optimise the value derived from their IT assets while managing costs and risks more effectively. Implementing a structured approach to capturing feedback and tracking these metrics ensures that IT Asset Management remains aligned with organisational goals and adapts to changing business needs and technological landscapes.

Comments