What is IT Asset Management (ITAM)? Definition, Benefits & Types

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IT Asset Management (ITAM) is the process of managing and tracking an organization’s IT assets throughout their lifecycle. This includes hardware like computers, servers, printers, and mobile devices, as well as software licenses, network devices, and other IT-related components.

The goal of ITAM is to ensure that an organization’s IT assets are being used effectively, efficiently and securely while minimizing costs and reducing the risk of data breaches and other security incidents.

A few of the key activities involved in ITAM include asset inventory management, software license management, vendor management and procurement, and disposal. These processes typically involve using specialized software tools and best practices to manage the entire lifecycle of an organization’s IT assets. This includes tracking asset usage and maintenance monitoring of potential security vulnerabilities, and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations and policies.

See the Top IT Asset Management (ITAM) Tools for Security

Why is ITAM Important?

IT asset management’s primary purpose is to manage the IT asset lifecycle, from purchase through retirement, but increasingly it has an important role to play in cybersecurity too by discovering and inventorying assets and identifying missing patches and other security vulnerabilities. Many organizations don’t have an accurate inventory of everything they own, making patch management even more difficult.

With the help of ITAM processes and tools, organizations can identify and track all IT assets, ensure software license compliance and identify unused software, manage patching and updates, and monitor and detect anomalies.

IT asset inventories are also an important part of vulnerability management, and some have dubbed products and processes geared toward security as cybersecurity asset management.

Also read: Patch Management vs Vulnerability Management: What’s the Difference?

6 Types of IT Asset Management

A major goal of IT asset management is to ensure that an organization’s IT assets are being used effectively, efficiently, and securely throughout their lifecycle, an important step in aligning IT and business objectives.

There are a number of areas where IT asset management processes can be applied. Here are seven types of ITAM, ranging from on-premises technology to mobile and cloud assets too.

1. Hardware Asset Management

Hardware asset management involves tracking and managing physical IT assets like computers, servers, printers, routers, switches and other tangible assets throughout their lifecycle. This includes tasks such as procurement, inventory management, maintenance, and retirement of hardware assets.

2. Software Asset Management

Software asset management involves managing software licenses, usage and compliance across the organization. It includes software procurement, inventory management and license optimization and software tracking to ensure compliance and cost savings.

3. Mobile Device Management

Mobile device management also includes managing the lifecycle of mobile devices. MDM and enterprise mobility management (EMM) tools and practices span device inventory, security management, application management, and policy enforcement to ensure data and security compliance.

4. Cloud Asset Management

Cloud asset management involves managing cloud-based IT assets such as virtual machines, storage, data, and applications. Some of the tasks include cloud service procurement, usage tracking, optimization and cost management to ensure efficient and cost-effective use of cloud resources.

5. Network Asset Management

Network asset management processes help manage an organization’s network infrastructure, such as routers, firewalls, wireless access points, and switches. A few key tasks of network asset management includes network inventory management, configuration management, security management, and performance monitoring to ensure optimal network security and performance.

See the Best Network Monitoring Tools

6. Digital Asset Management

Digital asset management is where images, videos, and documents — an organization’s data — are managed. A few of the tasks involved in digital asset management are digital asset inventory management, metadata management, and content distribution to ensure efficient and effective use of digital assets. Digital asset management is a part of cloud asset management too.

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IT service management (ITSM) is complementary to ITAM, focusing on the delivery of IT services to the business as opposed to ITAM’s cost management and asset lifecycle focus. And both fall under the broader IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) practices for IT and business alignment.

ITSM includes service desk management, incident management, change management, and service level management to ensure IT services are delivered efficiently and effectively.

ITSM and ITAM can both include configuration management databases (CMDBs). While a CMDB is more associated with the service focus of ITSM, as ITAM becomes a bigger part of cybersecurity, a CMDB’s ability to map relationships between applications and systems can become an important tool for security teams.

5 Benefits of ITAM

ITAM’s benefits include more effective management and operations, reduced costs, improved security, and better planning. Here’s more on ITAM’s benefits.

1. Real-time asset monitoring

ITAM provides real-time monitoring of assets by giving organizations visibility into asset status, usage, and location. This enables organizations to proactively identify and resolve issues related to asset utilization, maintenance, and retirement, which can result in improved operational efficiency and reduced costs.

2. Automated recordkeeping

Automated recordkeeping allows organizations to track and document IT asset data to reduce manual effort and paperwork. This improves accuracy, reduces errors, and saves time, enabling organizations to focus on more strategic activities. It also helps document compliance with data security and privacy laws.

3. Better budget planning

ITAM helps organizations plan and budget for asset investments more effectively by providing insights into an asset’s lifecycle, usage patterns and costs. Organizations can then optimize their IT asset portfolio to ensure they have the right mix of assets to support their business objectives in a timely manner while minimizing costs. And a better functioning organization helps customer experience too.

4. Better asset classification

Organizations can classify IT assets based on their attributes with the help of ITAM. These IT assets are organized according to function, department, location, ownership and other attributes. This improves asset tracking, management and utilization, enabling organizations to make more informed decisions about risk, asset allocation and retirement.

5. Comprehensive asset view

Organizations can access all IT assets across departments and stakeholders thanks to ITAM’s comprehensive repository of IT asset data. This enhances decision-making, cooperation and communication, which boosts operational effectiveness and lowers costs. ITAM’s ability to discover and catalog assets helps improve vulnerability management and speeds response to security threats.

Also read: Is the Answer to Vulnerabilities Patch Management as a Service?

Common ITAM Software Features

ITAM software comes with a variety of features to help organizations manage their IT assets effectively, helping both business and security outcomes.

Real-time tracking

Real-time tracking allows organizations to have accurate and up-to-date information about their assets, reducing the risk of lost or stolen assets. Monitoring IT assets in real time allows organizations to quickly identify the location and usage of each asset.

Alerts and notifications

Alerts and notifications are sent to an organization’s assigned IT managers in case of critical events such as suspicious asset movements, software license expirations, or security breaches. This helps organizations to stay on top of any potential issues and take action faster.

Integration with other systems

Integration with other IT systems is a key feature of ITAM software, which enables organizations to gain a comprehensive view of their IT assets across all systems. By seamlessly integrating with other systems such as procurement, financial management and help desk, ITAM can provide organizations with a centralized platform for managing their IT assets.

Asset discovery

For security teams, asset discovery is one of ITAM’s most important capabilities. After all, you can’t secure what you can’t see, and many organizations have vulnerable devices that have been forgotten about. ITAM automatically discovers assets across the network, including hardware, software, and mobile devices. This also helps organizations to maintain an accurate inventory of their assets and avoid overbuying or underbuying licenses and hardware.

IT help desk management

IT help desk management gives organizations a platform for tracking and resolving IT asset issues quickly and efficiently. With IT help desk management, organizations can achieve faster response times, reduce downtime and improve overall service levels.

In-depth reporting

In-depth reporting gives organizations insights into their IT assets so they can optimize asset usage and reduce costs. ITAM offers a granular view of asset performance, allowing organizations to identify trends and patterns and make data-driven decisions.

IT Asset Management Best Practices

Effective IT asset management depends on best practices to help organizations maximize their IT assets while maintaining compliance with security policies and regulatory requirements. Implementing best ITAM practices enables organizations to manage IT asset lifecycles efficiently, enhancing IT service delivery and supporting informed business decisions that drive better outcomes. Here are those ITAM best practices.

Asset identification: By identifying and classifying all IT assets, an organization can manage them more effectively and make more informed decisions based on value and risk.

Asset valuation: By assigning value to each asset based on its cost, usage, and business value, it becomes easier to prioritize assets and optimize your business IT portfolio.

Asset recordkeeping: Maintaining an accurate inventory of all IT assets, including their location, condition and usage, allows for better planning and faster incident response.

Asset insurance: Insuring critical assets against loss or damage can give you added protection against financial risks.

Depreciation management and valuation: Knowing everything about your IT assets can help your accounting team develop a depreciation schedule and ensure accurate financial reporting, tax compliance and budget planning.

Asset disposal: ITAM can also help you dispose of assets in a responsible and secure manner, following regulations and guidelines to help minimize the risk of data breaches and reputational damage.

6 Stages of the ITAM Lifecycle

The IT asset management lifecycle follows hardware and software from pre-purchase through to retirement and disposal.

Stage 1: Planning

This involves identifying IT assets that need to be purchased and managed, establishing ITAM goals and objectives, and defining the IT policies and procedures required to manage IT assets effectively.

Stage 2: Development and acquisition

This stage involves developing or purchasing assets and establishing ownership and accountability for each asset.

Stage 3: Deployment

IT assets must be installed and configured so function optimally and securely to ensure that business goals are met.

Stage 4: Maintenance and upgrades

Maintaining or upgrading IT assets is an ongoing occurrence to ensure optimal performance, reliability and security.

Stage 5: Retirement and disposal

Retiring or disposing of IT assets that are obsolete or no longer needed requires safeguards to ensure that sensitive data is securely erased and the asset disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner.

Stage 6: Continuous improvement

Regularly reviewing and improving ITAM processes ensures that they remain effective and aligned with business objectives. Inventory management, software licensing management, and compliance management are just a few of the practices utilized to efficiently manage IT assets throughout the ITAM lifecycle.

6 stages of the ITAM lifecycle
The 6 stages of the IT asset management lifecycle

8 Best IT Asset Management Software

IT asset management software plays a crucial role in helping organizations manage their IT assets efficiently and effectively. With numerous ITAM software options available, finding the best one for your needs can be overwhelming. Here’s a list of the best ITAM solutions and their strengths.

  • Reftab: A versatile and customizable platform for comprehensive IT asset management.
  • GoCodes: An ideal choice for tracking assets in construction, schools, and IT offices.
  • ManageEngine AssetExplorer: A top pick for managing both IT and non-IT assets.
  • SolarWinds Web Help Desk: A go-to solution for IT asset management and help desk support.
  • Pulseway: An excellent option for managing assets remotely and for mobile users.
  • Asset Panda: A cloud-based solution that offers extensive customization options for IT asset management.
  • ServiceNow: A powerful single unified cloud platform for IT asset management and more.
  • BMC Track-It!: A top choice for IT departments seeking an all-in-one asset management solution.

See our picks for the top ITAM tools for security use cases

Bottom Line: IT Asset Management

Investing in an IT asset management tool can benefit businesses of any size, helping them optimize asset usage, reduce costs, ensure regulatory compliance, and improve overall operational efficiency. Choosing the right ITAM software and implementing best practices throughout the ITAM lifecycle can help you achieve these benefits and make informed decisions about your organization’s IT investments. And ITAM functionality and practices have become a critical component of cybersecurity, particularly for patch management and vulnerability management, ensuring that no asset or vulnerability is forgotten.

Further reading:

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