What Is IT Asset Management?
By K. K.
, last updated December 22, 2011
With companies and organizations tightening their belts, many business owners may be looking for ways to streamline operations with budget cuts and possible staff layoffs. Many businesses overlook ways they can save money by managing their assets that they have in their information technology, IT, division. IT assets include such things as computer hardware, software, software licensing and networking hardware and software. IT asset management simply entails examining a company's inventory pertaining to its IT department.
Life Cycle Management
The most common approach to IT asset management is by evaluating IT assets by their life cycles. For example, a computer program is ordered, and then it's delivered and put into use. At some time, it may need to be upgraded, and then the program may become obsolete as new programs are being put on the market. The program may be able to be used for another purpose, or it may become salvaged.
The way IT asset management works is to track all IT assets through their life cycles. Procurement is the first life cycle phase. This is when a purchase order is made, and the item enters the cycle. A management system then takes the purchase order information and routes it to the appropriate department so payment can be made.
Deployment is the next life cycle phase. An asset management system tracks the item's deployment and records where the item is being used, who is using the item, which department is responsible for the item, vendor and warranty information and configuration data.
The next phase of the life cycle is usage, which is when asset management examines all existing items in use and not in use to determine if any IT items can be repurposed.
Upgrading is the next phase of the life cycle, during which all software and hardware that is upgraded must have new data entered, such as new configurations or warranty information.
The final phase of the life cycle is decommissioning. This last phase tracks IT assets that no longer are being used. To manage this part of the life cycle, the management system examines whether items no longer in use can be repurposed or tagged as salvage.
Each IT asset must be tracked through the entire life cycle to properly manage IT inventory.
Types of Assets
Management of IT assets primarily is a financial concern, so all data for management purposes should be limited to the financial aspects of each IT asset. IT assets normally include base machines, all components that are installed, all peripheral equipment, operating system software, software that is licensed, telephones and telephone systems. A base machine category may include desktop computers, servers, routers and any other computer-based equipment and gear. Components that are installed, such as operating systems and licensed software may be tracked separately. Some software licensing dictates that the license must remain with a specific machine; however, for some license auditing purposes, software may require separate tracking.
The most important benefit of IT asset management is inventory control, which, for financial purposes, allows all IT assets to be entered into the accounting system for depreciation. As with other types of inventory control management systems, IT asset management also helps prevent inventory theft. Properly managing IT assets also allows a company to establish the total cost of ownership, TOC, which measures all costs associated with owning and using IT assets.
Tracking TOC allows companies to reduce costs by preventing duplicate purchases or by wasting existing assets. A company that uses an automated IT management system can reduce costs by eliminating human errors, which may be costly, as in the case of licensing errors. Remaining compliant with licensing agreements can be quite cumbersome for large companies that have several software programs and numerous users.
In fact, companies that use manual IT management find that much time can be devoted to making sure the company is compliant with all licensing agreements. The use of an automated management system frees up IT staff to concentrate on other concerns.
IT asset management also helps companies monitor control over its overall inventory. For example, many companies often purchase IT assets without much thought as to their overall use or purpose. When this happens, the asset may be underused or overused, which leads to overall cost and budget inefficiencies. With properly managed IT assets, companies also have a clear opportunity to re-examine assets that are not being used. For example, many times an extra unused computer monitor can be redeployed to another area. As with other inventory controls, managing IT assets is all about streamlining what a company has and determining what is needed.