Best Practices for IT Lifecycle Management
Information technology, or IT, is central to 21st-century business practices. While previously IT was a mere addition to corporate processes, it is now one of the primary vehicles driving modern organizations forward. Your team relies on your technology to help them surpass the competition and navigate their way to success.
All technology, hardware, software, and infrastructure have a period where they are optimal — helping your team save time and money and avoid unnecessary roadblocks.
On the flip side, outdated technology can cause your team to lose sight of what's ahead — leading to budgeting, maintenance, and security concerns.
With so many physical and digital assets to oversee, how do you ensure you're getting the most from your technology? The answer is IT lifecycle management (or ITLM).
The need to manage audits and compliance and optimize IT implementation from deployment to disposal has led the ITLM and IT asset management (or ITAM) sectors to experience unprecedented growth. In fact, the IT asset management market is expected to reach $2.3 billion by the end of 2029.
Whether a global organization or an SME, a robust IT lifecycle management strategy is essential in optimizing your IT assets and putting your team on the digital highway to success.
In this article, we'll take a journey into IT lifecycle management — covering everything you need to keep your business healthy and thriving in today's increasingly crowded digital landscape.
What is IT lifecycle management?
IT lifecycle management involves the administration of all hardware, software, and related IT infrastructure. Every IT workload, system, and resource has a lifecycle, from planning to operations to decommissioning.
Modern-day IT asset management focuses less on managing individual technology assets and more on a holistic approach that considers the health of the entire IT ecosystem. This approach allows teams to:
- Create reliable automated and scalable systems
- Track all asset inventory in real-time, including hardware systems, operating systems, and cloud infrastructure assets
- Have insight into security vulnerabilities and risks ahead of time to mitigate the chances of a security breach
- Make informed decisions about when and how to decommission systems and resources
When teams align their infrastructure lifecycle management with their overall business operations, they can create scalable solutions prioritizing cost optimization and security. This allows businesses to predict and optimize their workflows and meet business objectives on time.
The IT management lifecycle
There are five widely accepted stages involved in IT asset lifecycle management.
Procurement and provisioning is the first stage of the IT lifecycle. At this stage of the lifecycle management process, teams need to evaluate the following:
- What technology they need
- Who to purchase it from
- Allocated budget
- When to purchase the technology
When purchasing new technologies, teams should consider upcoming business goals and the overarching business strategy, with budgets allocated accordingly. This will ensure your team procures the technology they need without overcapitalizing unnecessarily.
This stage also involves creating, managing, and logging relevant paperwork, including purchase orders, inventory sheets, and other accounting paperwork.
Once your team has identified and procured the right IT assets, it's time to allocate them to the right place in your overall asset infrastructure. The allocation stage requires a strategic approach to ensure the assets travel the optimal route from your inventory to their place of utilization.
At this stage, your team will:
- Set up and test the asset
- Change the status of the asset to in use in your systems
- Allocate software to relevant hardware
- Update relationships maps
By using a SaaS solution such as RedBeam, you can streamline the allocation process by ensuring your assets are logged in your system right from the start. You can then track technology assets easily across the rest of the lifecycle.
Most IT assets will spend the majority of their life in the implementation phase, and rightly so. At this stage, assets are implemented into your systems and used in their intended role. As IT assets are deployed, they'll be monitored for their ability to perform specific tasks, influence overall business objectives and profitability, and operate seamlessly without issues.
There’s a raft of factors that need to be considered by lifecycle management teams at the implementation stage. Ensuring compliance regulations are met and possible risks are foreseen and mitigated ensures business continuity and maximum return on their asset investment.
The health of your IT assets is vital to their performance and has flow-on effects across your entire business infrastructure. As with any asset lifecycle mode, the monitoring and maintenance stage is essential to ensure you get the most from your assets long-term.
Asset tracking is key here, giving your team full visibility of where your IT assets are in their lifespan, allowing them to track performance and conduct proactive maintenance before systems break down.
As IT assets age, they can put your systems at risk of attack. Updating software and licenses, replacing legacy systems, and overseeing lagging hardware are all part of this stage. Regular maintenance and proactive monitoring of IT systems will guarantee you maximize the output of your IT infrastructure over time.
The final stage of the lifecycle is the decommissioning stage. This is when IT assets have reached the end of their usability and need to be de-installed and disposed of. If your ITLM strategy is working, your team will know when this is about to happen and can plan accordingly.
The decommissioning of assets needs to be approached with care. Any associated data should be securely backed up, and hardware needs to be disposed of responsibly.
Twenty-three states in the US now have strict laws around IT recycling, and teams need to be aware of these to ensure compliance.
Information technology lifecycle management: Challenges and solutions
The larger the environment across which your assets are spread, the greater the challenges presented in IT lifecycle management.
This is a specific challenge for large IT companies and schools with large quantities of hardware and multiple software systems running across different devices in different places. Students and workers may take their devices home and run them on their own networks, causing further obstacles.
A major challenge is keeping track of devices and avoiding unnecessary company property loss and theft.
Solution: Laptop asset tracking tags.
Due to their small, portable nature, laptops can easily be lost, stolen, or misplaced and are challenging to keep track of.
At RedBeam, we understand that radio frequency identification (RFID) asset tags are impractical for use with such devices. That's why we also integrate our tracking software with QR codes and barcodes for complete visibility of your business's portable devices across time and space.
Legacy systems, or worse yet, stacks of paperwork and spreadsheets across multiple devices, can be a nightmare for teams looking to streamline their lifecycle management. Information stored in widespread silos increases the likelihood of missing issues as they arise and having to fall back on reactive maintenance to fix issues, wasting time and money.
Solution: Asset tracking software.
RedBeam's asset tracking software allows complete visibility over your assets at all times in one easy-to-use dashboard. Our dashboard allows users to track every change made to assets in the system, ensuring your asset records match physical reality. No more spreadsheet errors or lost paperwork.
IT teams aren't growing at the same rate as the infrastructure that needs to be managed. This means teams constantly face increased responsibilities and struggle to keep up. Without the proper management frameworks, trying to keep on top of your IT infrastructure can seem overwhelming, with no end in sight.
Solution: Automate processes and reports.
By leveraging asset tracking software such as RedBeam, IT teams can streamline their operations by up to 70%, taking pressure off existing staff and increasing revenue to expand their workforce. While the human touch is essential, once you've logged your assets and entered the correct data, our easy-to-use software allows you to generate reports on the following:
- Current asset value
- Location and movement
- Use history
- Lost or damaged assets
Aging IT infrastructure opens companies up to cybersecurity threats and the demise of major projects and, in some cases, entire organizations.
The average cost of a data breach in the US is 9.48 million, significantly more than their global counterparts. While this partially reflects US market share, it demonstrates the need for vigilant IT lifecycle management across the board.
Solution: Choose software that prioritizes data security.
A recent IBM study showed organizations had a 74-day shorter breach lifecycle and saved an average of $3 million when they leveraged fully deployed security AI and automation. By keeping track of your assets in this way, you can ensure your operating systems are up to date, have undergone thorough penetration testing, and remain compliant throughout the IT lifecycle.
Benefits of IT lifecycle management
Teams not implementing an IT lifecycle management strategy will likely find themselves ill-equipped to handle challenges and seize new opportunities. Here are the top benefits of IT lifecycle management.
Forecasting and budgeting
With IT departments expanding at ever-increasing rates, teams must make sure their infrastructure can support this growth.
While SaaS technology with affordable subscription options is helping to keep costs down, enterprise applications and hardware costs remain high.
Businesses that are expanding need to know their systems can support their growing team without unexpected crashes.
Effective lifecycle management allows businesses to forecast what will be needed and budget accordingly.
Optimized software and hardware
It doesn't take a complete system crash for outdated IT systems to cost your business. Slow networks, legacy add-ons, and obsolete software cost time and money and are a security risk. The underlying issues can often lead to far-reaching complications in other sectors of your business. An effective lifecycle management solution will ensure that hardware and software assets are up to date and working in symbiosis for the best possible business outcomes.
Predicting and preventing failure
Everybody knows how stressful it can be when technology fails. On a small scale, frozen applications during business calls look unprofessional and can lead to lost sales. On a large scale, it can grind your business to a halt.
Old systems are a veritable playground for hackers and malware.
Tracking your IT across the entire lifecycle means you'll have insight into your system status and know when and how your software needs to be updated.
Software updates are essential in patching security vulnerabilities and need to be implemented as soon as they are available.
If teams fail at this task, they risk major consequences. If the virus causes a system to shut down, businesses may lose valuable data — customer relationships may be damaged if user data is affected, and legal ramifications may be faced if compliance is breached.
As part of your wider ITLM strategy, software asset management keeps systems up to date, ensures compliance, and sidesteps potential PR disasters.
Embracing the future with IT lifecycle management
IT lifecycle management isn't just a 'nice to have' add-on — it's a necessity.
Rapid increases in technology mean that outdated systems aren't just a hindrance but can pose significant risks across your business operations. The consequences of poor ITLM can be dire, from inefficiencies to serious security threats. However, the journey doesn't need to be overwhelming.
With the support of cutting-edge tools like RedBeam, businesses can ensure they remain agile, compliant, and ahead of the curve.
By integrating efficient asset tracking and management software tools, you can stay on top of your IT assets and navigate your way to success. To get started on your journey, try RedBeam now with a 30-day free trial.