IT Asset Management: Best Practices for 2024
IT asset management (ITAM) is the process at the heart of 21st-century businesses that many attempt but few truly master. This intricate process of tracking, analyzing, and optimizing technological resources is a pillar of operational efficiency. Yet, its complexity often leads to missteps.
Poor IT management extends beyond simple inefficiencies. It can significantly affect an organization's bottom line, resource allocation, and reputation. Without proper asset management processes, IT assets can become a burdensome liability rather than the productivity-boosting assets they're meant to be.
A recent report uncovered that 36% of spending on software and related tools is underutilized or goes to waste. Such waste drains financial resources and reflects missed opportunities — opportunities for innovation, growth, and harnessing the full potential of the digital age.
In this article, we'll take a deep dive into IT asset management, shedding light on its importance in the contemporary business setting. From understanding the pitfalls of inadequate protocols to unveiling the roadmap for 2024's best practices, we aim to equip you with the knowledge and tools to master ITAM and ensure your organization remains at the cutting edge of technological innovation across the entire lifecycle.
What is IT asset management?
IT asset management (ITAM for short) is a coordinated methodology and set of practices undertaken by an organization to improve the lifecycle and maximize the value of IT assets.
It starts by identifying and cataloging an organization's IT assets, but the process also governs how those assets are deployed, maintained, upgraded, and eventually disposed of. Those assets include physical assets like desktop computers, laptops, mobile devices, software, media, license contracts, and all other associated tools and metadata.
The Venn diagram below shows that ITAM covers multiple departments and disciplines, including procurement, security, and service management.
When implemented with best practices in mind, ITAM helps businesses maximize value, control costs, manage risks, support decision-making, and meet regulatory requirements.
The cost savings that accompany ITAM efforts can be huge, for example. Research by Flexera finds that 11% of organizations realize more than $25 million in savings, and 39% of companies realize between $1 million and $10 million in savings.
Following ITAM best practices will also increase the data you have at your disposal, allowing you to see where assets are underutilized (and can, therefore, be removed) and which assets need maintenance (to maximize their value). The greater visibility that comes with that data makes it easier to pass internal and external audits and meet your regulatory requirements.
Risks associated with poor asset management
IT assets sit at the heart of modern-day businesses. Companies must implement strong asset management practices — from servers to software — to keep the business running smoothly.
Unfortunately, most aren’t. As of 2021, only 37% of companies have mature information technology asset management levels.
That’s a problem. Because businesses that have weak asset management practices face the following risks:
Lack of visibility
Not having real-time visibility into their assets can cause problems for companies with a large and complex asset estate. For example, you may assign assets to broken or unpatched employees or even assign equipment that another employee is already using.
Asset management software changes this. For example, RedBeam allows you to track assets in real-time, with info about location, asset status, department, purchasing, and more related to your fixed assets. RedBeam consolidates all your asset data into a user-friendly platform for simple asset management in the office, in the field, and anywhere in between. The result is unrivaled visibility across your entire IT infrastructure.
Productivity can suffer without the right tools to maximize your workforce’s potential – specifically concerning IT asset management.
This can be due to many reasons, such as outdated or damaged equipment, courtesy of a lack of tracking throughout the asset lifecycle. After all, it is difficult to initiate repairs when you don’t have an efficient way to keep track of everything.
Managing IT resources can be a time-sink without an effective IT asset management strategy. Why is your team manually tracking assets in spreadsheets — or worse, not tracking them at all — when they could automate the process with IT asset management software instead?
Business disruptions and unscheduled downtime
Unexpected downtime can seriously damage a business — not just in terms of operational efficiency and lost revenue but in the eyes of your customers when the disruption involves client-facing operations.
This is bound to happen when you manage assets manually, especially considering that nearly 40% of organizations have suffered a major outage caused by human error over the past three years.
Employees need to have confidence in the location and performance of IT assets to do their job effectively. And when they waste time tracking devices down or waiting for them to update, it doesn’t just impact their day — it can impact the entire business.
Issues with auditing and compliance
Being unable to report on or audit your IT asset estate can be costly. It is increasingly common for regulators to demand that businesses have practices in place to keep IT equipment patched and secure.
This is easy when businesses have visibility across all devices and software licenses, but it’s much harder when companies use spreadsheets to manage IT equipment. How do you know if all your devices are up-to-date with the latest software if you don’t know where all of them are? The resulting penalties can be severe. Failing to comply can see companies incur heavy fines or lose important accreditations.
ITAM best practices for 2024
You don’t have to suffer from the risks of poor asset management. Follow these five best practices to improve your IT asset management efforts in 2024 and beyond.
Deploy the right asset management software
Asset management software is rapidly becoming essential for organizations to stay competitive. Asset management software facilitates asset performance optimization from acquisition to disposal, replacing manual tools such as Excel and providing a much more efficient way of managing operations.
It also makes it incredibly easy to build an accurate inventory of your IT assets. Using asset management software that integrates with a tracking method like barcodes and scanners allows teams to quickly tag and detail every IT asset in your organization. Key information like the status and location of the device and the software installed on it can be stored in the software’s digital database.
With everything recorded in one place, it becomes much easier to see how your IT network operates, which devices are used most often, and how cost savings can be achieved.
Centralize and democratize information
Everyone needs to be on the same page for IT asset management to be effective. Whether your IT asset management team reports to the CIO of service management, ITAM operations should be visible to everyone from the warehouse floor to the C-suite.
For reference, most ITAM teams report directly to the CIO or CTO, but either way, information must be centralized so that it’s accessible to everyone.
Asset management software is a great way to ensure information is stored in a single, accessible location rather than licked away in multiple spreadsheets. Having all of the relevant data managed in a single location makes it easier for employees to access the exact information they need. From valuable asset values to critical warranties and software licenses, up-to-date repair analytics can be viewed easily.
However, that doesn’t mean everyone needs to have the same rights to edit data. Visibility is essential, and so is control. With this in mind, use software that lets you assign different levels of permissions to users so only certain people have the right to record and edit data.
Automate for speed and accuracy
Keeping your IT asset management data online in a centralized database should save your team significant time. But don’t stop there. You can make your team even more productive by automating processes as much as possible. For example, you can use IT management software to generate weekly or monthly reports for stakeholders, automatically change equipment status when it changes location, or receive automatic alerts when it’s time to update software.
You may even find that managing assets in your database highlights tasks that can be automated, too. For example, backups and software updates could be automated on each device rather than being actioned manually by an employee.
Automating processes can also make your data more accurate. These processes are ideal for organizations with dozens or even hundreds of assets that make human error all the more likely when data is entered manually.
Conduct internal audits
Self-audits may seem like a waste of time and resources, but they’re an excellent way to check asset use and compliance. For example, regular self-audits can identify zombie assets when they are no longer in use, find unpatched or unlicensed software, and provide much-needed audit experience for your employees.
When real audits can occur at any time, self-auditing will also ensure your company remains compliant and ready for whatever surprise regulators might throw your way. It’s effectively a self-warning mechanism that can save your company thousands of dollars in the long run.
Use analytics for preventive maintenance
When you record and centralize information using asset management software, you suddenly have much more data at your fingertips. Now is the time to turn that data into insights, using analytics reports to identify assets that need maintenance or software updates ahead of time.
Preventive maintenance is necessary for IT asset management as it helps companies minimize the costs associated with unscheduled equipment failures. By using historical averages such as mean time between failure (MTBF) to plan for maintenance scheduling, business leaders can ensure their assets are ready to go at all times.
Preventative maintenance can also go a long way in reducing IT-related costs. Increasing the lifecycle of assets means businesses need to spend less money each year replacing assets. Decision-makers can also use data to identify which assets last the longest and use that information to make more informed decisions in the future.
Improve your ITAM in 2024
There’s no excuse to put your business at risk of immature IT asset management processes. Improve visibility, productivity, and decision-making by following our best practices above.
Use asset management software to centralize information, automate processes, and analyze data to take proactive and preventative action to improve your equipment’s technology lifecycle.
RedBeam is the perfect tool for managing and monitoring your company’s fixed IT assets. Use our platform to become audit-ready, stay compliant, and make it easy for IT managers to gain visibility across every device.
Sign up for a 30-day free trial to see how RedBeam's platform can help your business today.