How Do I Choose an IT Asset Management Solution?
Do you ever miss the good old days?
The days when IT asset management was simple. You tracked laptops, desktops, and printers, with maybe a few other devices in the mix.
Everything you tracked was something you could see by walking through the office.
But the times, they are a-changin’.
The number of networked devices in an average company is increasing rapidly, leading to an expansion of responsibilities for IT departments.
IT asset management is now often responsible for mobile devices, telecom devices, servers, and many other technologies in the data center. And now, employees often share devices, meaning that keeping track of the chain of custody has become more challenging.
Despite these complications, IT departments have to provide mission-critical support for the business 24/7, keep up with technology upgrade cycles, and manage their budget prudently.
That’s a lot for an IT department to handle!
Since we can’t go back in time, IT departments must adapt to this new reality.
One of the more effective ways to adapt is to get a better toolset.
An IT asset management (ITAM) solution allows you to track and manage IT assets wherever they are. Many ITAM solutions also address requirements like chain-of-custody, upgrade and maintenance management, and disposal regulations.
This post will go over which of these and other features are most important, as well as how to make your final decision when choosing to implement an IT asset management solution.
Today we’ll look at:
- What to consider when looking for an ITAM solution
- Top ITAM features
- How to decide between ITAM solutions
What should I consider when looking for an ITAM solution?
Ultimately, you want a solution that can help make life easier for you and your team. What that means for your team depends on your goals and the structure of your organization.
Here are some questions to ask yourself and your team:
- What kind of discipline should your IT departments adopt?
- What kinds of tools are required?
- What kind of business processes should be implemented?
What do IT professionals think?
We performed a spontaneous survey on LinkedIn to see what modern IT professionals think are the most important features of an ITAM solution. We asked: “What features would you like to see in an IT asset management tool?”
Many of the people who responded focused on tracking the physical and fiscal information of IT assets across their lifecycle.
This is right in line with the focus of the International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers. They define IT Asset Management as: “Joining the financial, physical, and contractual responsibilities to manage the overall lifecycle of IT assets”.
Here are a few additional excerpts from the LinkedIn Survey:
“…reporting. A strong audit trail and the corresponding key reports on activity, turnover, linked up to sales/distribution should ensure that you have a grip on the assets profitability.”
“If it’s the accounting guys, they are about date in service and depreciation schedules. If it’s the tech guys, they’ll want to know unique identifiers (serial numbers and service tags), the ‘guts’ (processor, memory, HDD, software) and maybe cost and service history. Both would benefit from asset tag #s. If it’s a business owner, probably some of both”
As you can see, there are many features IT professionals feel are important for IT asset management. The key here is they are not just focused on asset tracking but also tracking the contractual and financial information tracking that is important to the broader organization.
What features should an ITAM solution have?
As a provider of IT Asset Management solutions, we believe the key features in an IT Asset Management software should include:
A recent IDC survey indicates that 30% of the enterprise companies are still using spreadsheets to track their software usage and licenses, and one-third of the companies are unhappy with their approach to software asset management.
Software asset management has become a major financial risk for some companies especially as vendors are tightening software license compliance audits. This requires companies to better track their software licenses, usage, and compliance.
Record the asset’s physical information (e.g. model, serial number)
This is a must-have for any asset management solution. An asset’s physical information such as model or serial number is vital to effective tracking. An ITAM solution should be able to easily record and manage this information in order to facilitate other more complex actions.
Track useful life and depreciation on fixed assets
This is a feature that IT professionals frequently told us was a priority. Depreciation and useful life tracking isn’t just valuable for IT departments, but for the financial departments that work with them.
Ultimately, this feature can lead to smarter business decisions and future cost savings on IT assets.
A device may change hands several times in one day, so tracking chain-of-custody manually can be very difficult. That’s why more automated chain-of-custody tracking is vital for modern IT departments.
Chain-of-custody allows IT professionals to know who is using a device or asset, which allows the IT professional to more easily locate, perform maintenance, and manage the device.
It’s ideal if an ITAM solution can provide chain-of-custody information throughout an asset’s lifetime.
An ITAM solution that also has maintenance functionality is incredibly useful. Maintenance and updates are an essential function of IT departments, ensuring devices remain working as needed and networks remain secure.
However, organizing data and keeping a record of maintenance activities can be a big challenge. That’s why a solution that tracks devices, as well as their maintenance needs, can be a major boon to an IT department.
Even better if the solution allows you to schedule maintenance and create alerts to remind you of maintenance needs.
Multiple asset disposal options
Asset disposal is more complicated than it used to be. New rules and regulations on recycling electronic products present new challenges to the process of asset disposal.
That’s why it’s important for an ITAM solution to provide multiple disposal options that meet regulations. Bonus points for integrating to providers of electronics recycling services to attach certificates and disposal reports to the assets.
Connect with network auto-discovery tools
IT asset discovery is an important component of successful IT asset management. IT discovery tools ensure that all devices are found and accounted for. They also help the IT team to maintain network security.
Your solution should integrate with auto discovery tools. It should also make it easy to leverage the data collected in both your ITAM and auto-discovery systems.
Current features aren’t everything
You should keep in mind that if a solution doesn’t have a certain desirable feature, it doesn’t mean that the solution isn’t for you. You can ask a vendor to see if that feature is in development. A good vendor should let you know, and may even speed up their development of that feature should you choose to buy.
How to decide on an ITAM solution?
So you’ve found a few solutions that might work, and have contacted the vendors. You’ve likely seen a few demos, and had many phone conversations about your needs and various solutions.
You need to decide which features you want or need most, while also evaluating things like hosting options and cost.
So how do you weigh these different pros and cons?
Ultimately, it’s up to your team to determine what solution will best fit. You’ll likely need to host meetings where your department, and perhaps members of other departments, debate which solution to use.
It’s important here to keep in mind your initial goals for seeking an ITAM solution. This will not only help to focus your meetings but also keep you motivated through what can be a long process.
We suggest that if you or your team remain undecided for a long time, that you bring up any concerns or problems with vendors. They are often willing to help smooth the process any way they can.
Choosing an IT asset management solution can be a difficult process. You have to ask yourself and your team key questions about your goals, what you need, and what you’re able to use.
You will likely do research, either through guides such as this one or by asking the opinion of other IT professionals.
Ultimately, you need to work with your team and your vendors to decide which solution will work best.