In a corporate context, an asset is part and parcel of a company’s financial worth. Assets hold economic value and future benefits, as they have the ability to generate cash flow. For this reason, IT asset management, or ITAM for short, is quintessential in today’s tech landscape.
Technology is indispensable for the contemporary enterprise, and therefore IT asset management is as well. But what is IT asset management? What does its implementation mean, and more importantly what does it look like? Let’s find out.
What is IT Asset Management?
Before understanding what IT asset management can do for your organization, you need to first understand what ITAM is. The International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers (IAITAM) defines IT asset management as:
a set of business practices that incorporates IT assets across the business units within the organization. It joins the financial, inventory, contractual and risk management responsibilities to manage the overall life cycle of these assets including tactical and strategic decision making.
IT asset management is an essential security practice for the modern workplace. The standard office environment nowadays is heavily reliant on technology, primarily in the form of laptops or desktop computers with various iterations of software running on them. Add smart devices such as mobile phones and tablets to the list, then consider IoT devices such as servers or printers. These are the components that fuel your enterprise.
Your company network IT asset management department is there to ensure that the technology the business operates on is not taken for granted, but administrated correctly. Also known as IT inventory management, ITAM involves keeping a detailed record of the software and hardware of an enterprise. This list is then used to make decisions about existing assets, as well as future purchases.
Types of IT Asset Management
IT asset management deals with five subtypes of IT assets, as explained below:
- Hardware, in the form of desktop computers, laptops, keyboards, printers, Wi-Fi routers, and any other physical devices used in a company’s IT infrastructure. This type of IT asset is relatively easy to catalog and keep track of.
- Software, which is represented by all the files and applications that are executed within a corporate network to fulfill work-related purposes. It is perhaps the most confusing and hard to define area of IT asset management, due to licensing requirements and compliance issues, among other matters.
- Digital, a subtype of IT asset consisting of videos, photos, and other forms of digital data such as scanned documents. While these are relatively simple to record, they are highly sought after by malicious actors due to the high confidential information potential that they hold.
- Mobile, which is another complicated area to handle. With mobile devices becoming increasingly popular in the contemporary office, the risks of them becoming a hub for malicious shadow IT are higher as well.
- Cloud, the most elusive type of IT asset out there. But despite its intangible nature, could IT asset management can replace the need for hardware components or licenses, thus making the task of your network admins more straightforward.
IT Asset Management Standards
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) established a family of standards for ITAM known as ISO 19770. It consists of six parts that were updated as recently as 2017. I have provided a one-line summary, as well as the appropriate links for each one below as comprised by the ITAM Standards Committee:
I recommend checking out the individual documents linked above for more information on IT asset management standards for your enterprise.
IT Asset Management Benefits
According to IAITAM, IT asset management represents an investment into a company’s short, medium, and long-term goals. ITAM best practices enforced by trained professionals deliver sizable value to an organization and have multiple benefits. These primarily include, but are not limited to:
- efficient project management,
- improved software compliance,
- enhanced cybersecurity,
- better interdepartmental communications,
- reduced asset costs,
- increased component visibility,
- accurate issue identification,
- and a more streamlined budget.
How to Implement IT Asset Management
With the aforementioned characteristics and benefits in mind, it is time to implement IT asset management into your corporate infrastructure. Here are five essential steps in the process.
#1 Create a Comprehensive Inventory Record
The first step in integrating IT asset management for your company consists of creating a comprehensive inventory record. This should contain both hardware and software IT assets, as well as digital, mobile, and cloud components.
To make sure you don’t miss out on anything, I recommend first of all performing a Windows domain scan. That needs to be followed by a network scan to detect routers, switches, printers, VMHost machines, and other adjacent components. If your company does not operate on Windows, the latter will suffice.
#2 Closely Monitor the Life Cycle of Your IT Assets
Technology does not live forever. Sooner or later, your IT assets become outdated and require patching, or they reach their end of life. Closely monitoring your inventory for this is thus essential for the cybersecurity of your company. Obsolete applications create vulnerabilities that malicious actors can easily exploit. Fortunately, Heimdal Security can help you mitigate this risk.
Heimdal™ Patch & Asset Management is an automatic software updater that keeps an archive of the applications running on your endpoints, installing updates based on preconfigured policies as soon as they are deployed by developers. Patches are deployed to the devices in your corporate network as soon as third-party vendors release them into the wild, so you won’t have to worry about improper IT asset management.
#3 Keep Meticulous Track of Software Licenses
Software licenses are another aspect you should keep track of meticulously. Also known as a certificate, it is a contract that you, the buyer, close with an application’s developer, or the seller. Essential concepts such as installation rights, warranties, and liabilities are stipulated within it. Its purpose is to protect the intellectual property of the vendor, as well as ensure you its authenticity and functionality.
Handling software licenses should thus be a priority for your IT asset management strategy. As mentioned in the previous section, nothing is worse than an outdated application…maybe only an inoperative one. You should always be aware of when certificates reach their expiration date and either renew or cancel them accordingly.
#4 Integrate ITAM with the Larger Infrastructure
IT asset management is just one piece of the cybersecurity puzzle. For this strategy to succeed in the ways that you desire it to, it must be integrated into your enterprise’s larger information technology infrastructure. This is where the concept of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) comes into play.
ITIL refers to a set of practices that align a company’s IT services with its business needs. It creates a baseline upon which organizations can plan, implement, and measure their procedures, which is highly relevant for ITAM.
#5 Continuously Audit and Improve Your Practices
Finally, you must consider that IT asset management is not a one and done type of deal. It is a continuous process that involves auditing and improving practices whenever necessary. In a constantly changing digital landscape, your company must stay up to date to survive. For this reason, my suggestion is to perform regular network inspections and adapt their findings to your strategy.
Final Thoughts on IT Asset Management
IT asset management deals with multiple facets of a company’s inventory. With hardware and software at its foundation, its success or lack thereof can make or break an organization in the long run. For this reason, my recommendation is to not take your resources for granted. With the proper strategy and corresponding tools on your side, your business will thrive.