Service Management Blog

What is IT Asset Management? Getting Started with ITAM

Stephen Watts
5 minute read
Stephen Watts
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Technology continues to grow at blinding speeds as more innovations in the digital sector seem to occur on a nearly daily basis. Keeping up with this breakneck pace and ensuring your organization makes the most of its IT investment is no small task. The role of IT asset management (ITAM) is one fraught with difficulties but also one that, when executed properly, can result in massive returns on investment. Skillful IT asset management also ensures organizations can continue to take advantage of cutting-edge technology without losing sight of the big picture in the process.

IT asset management is also sometimes dubbed IT inventory management due to the role and process dealing with the cataloging of hardware and software inventory. Put simply, the purpose of ITAM is to keep constant tabs on all IT assets (hardware components as well as software packages and services to which the company maintains a subscription) to assess when changes need to be made and what those changes should be.

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The What, When, and How of ITAM

IT asset managers are responsible for finding IT problems as well as the optimal solutions to those problems. The role of ITAM can be thought of as a person responsible for determining the what, when, and how of IT inventory maintenance. IT asset managers should constantly seek to answer the following questions.

What Do We Have and What Do We Need?

The what of ITAM is more than just keeping a tally of what hardware and software the company currently has, but also keeping a tally of the state of those assets and how well they are being utilized. Having a list of every desktop PC owned by the company doesn’t provide much if any valuable information without knowing the state of repair those devices are in, how many of them are in use, and how well they aid the organization in achieving their goals. Without detailed information on utilization of the assets themselves, organizations can’t get any insight into how their IT investments are paying off.

This idea doesn’t just apply to hardware but also to any software licenses or services the company has at their disposal. Discovering utilization data and keeping detailed records of IT asset conditions and performance provides invaluable information for making decisions on what is working and what needs to be worked on. If the company is paying for software that is currently not being used much, if at all, then that’s a clear sign that something needs to be done.

IT asset management situations can be this clear cut but are typically more subtle. Oftentimes, there is hardware or software that is in use by many people within the organization but there might be competing options available on the market that could provide more utility or cost less. However, implementing new hardware or software comes with its own expenses and complications, such as training costs or compatibility issues.

After getting a handle on the state of your IT assets, the next question IT asset managers should be asking themselves is all about timing.

When Should We Make Changes?

The reality of the world of technology is that everything will become outdated eventually. Hardware degrades, software support wanes, and new advancements make what was once cutting-edge look like an ancient abacus Plato would have used in grade school. Success often comes from anticipating need and preparing for it ahead of time. The technology sector is quite fond of keeping its customers abreast of new advancements that are coming down the pipeline. This makes the timing aspect of IT asset management somewhat predictable.

Looking at the current hardware and software that the organization takes advantage of and analyzing the kinds of gains that could be had by upgrading is an essential part of ITAM. Making a big hardware upgrade right before a product update comes out from manufacturers could result in the company spending significant money on machines that are almost immediately obsolete. On the other hand, the newest piece of technology might not be worth the price bump if older models would serve the company just as well.

There are times when technology takes a leap when it looked poised for a baby step. These cases might call for a reevaluation of upgrade timing but planning for known factors will better equip you to deal with the unknown. Keeping an eye on the IT hardware and software market is essential for predicting price drops and planning the timing of repair jobs, purchases, or updates. This touches on the final question for IT asset managers.

How Should We Address the Situation?

Purchasing the newest products the second they hit the market can provide your organization with a competitive edge, or it could result in your company acting as paying beta testers for bug-ridden platforms. Waiting for a new product to roll out so you can buy the older but still capable models at steep discounts might be the best option at the time. Better yet, maybe you could upgrade existing hardware with a couple of new components or refurbish some of the hardware sitting around in storage instead. Determining the best course of action for responding to IT asset issues is a difficult but imperative task that can lead to heavy returns on the organization’s IT investments.

The what, when, and how of IT asset management plays an enormous role in the success of organizations as a whole. Making these decisions in an intelligent and informed manner requires detailed data and analysis of all the company’s assets and how those assets are performing for your unique organization’s needs. IT asset management software helps organizations gain visibility of their hardware and software assets to see the value delivered by each piece of the puzzle. Tools backed up by powerful automation can provide IT asset managers with all the data they need to answer the what, when, and how of hardware and software management.

ITAM Software: Solutions for You

BMC’s IT Asset Management Software provides deep insights into IT asset inventory and the impact those assets have on operations. Learn how automation can deliver your organization the data, insight, and tools it needs to make the most of its assets with BMC’s Helix Discovery Datasheet.

BMC expert consultants are available to work with you to bring their knowledge and expertise to your organization. BMC provides custom-tailored Implementation Services for your organization to tackle the unique challenges you face.

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These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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About the author

Stephen Watts

Stephen Watts

Stephen is based in Birmingham, AL and began working at BMC Software in 2012. Stephen holds a degree in Philosophy from Auburn University and is currently enrolled in the MS in Information Systems - Enterprise Technology Management program at University of Colorado Denver.

Stephen contributes to a variety of publications including CIO.com, Search Engine Journal, ITSM.Tools, IT Chronicles, DZone, and CompTIA.