Today’s IT support teams don’t just deal with IT and business services. They also manage the physical and virtual asset components. Because those assets are the building blocks of an organization’s IT infrastructure, the benefits of IT asset management (ITAM) can’t be stressed enough. Many organizations have no knowledge about their IT asset infrastructure while others have limited visibility of their planned and actual asset inventory. Streamlined asset management can bring down IT costs significantly.
ITAM plays a vital role in helping an organization define and control its IT infrastructure by maintaining data about the historical and current state of all assets. ITAM also supports other ITIL processes by providing accurate information about the assets affected due to an incident, problem, or change. Finally, ITAM helps an organization stay compliant with its software licenses, gear up for audits, and reduce legal as well as security risks.
Here are some tips that will guide you to implement an effective asset management process and help you reap the maximum benefits.
Build Your Inventory
Your major goal should be to establish a central asset repository that comprises all of your IT hardware and software components. Based on the operating systems used in your organization, choose from a wide list of available scan and discovery techniques such as script–based scan, domain–based scan, agent–based scan, and distributed asset–based scan. For example, if you are a Windows user, then an agent-based scan would be ideal. It is best to capture as many asset-related attributes as possible, such as asset type, manufacturer name, status, location, and cost in order to shed more light on your scanned assets and understand them better.
Map Your Assets
Having an asset database inventory would be pointless unless you know details such as who uses the asset, what components the asset is connected to, and what services the asset would affect in case of a failure. Now that you have built up your asset inventory database, the next step would be to build your CMDB by creating dependencies between your assets. Build a relationship map using different relationship types to get a bird’s-eye view of your IT infrastructure setup. For example, a business service can be mapped to other entities using relationships such as connected to, depends on, runs on, impacts other services, and receives data from.
Manage the Life Cycles of Your Assets
All hardware and software assets are bound to be part of a cycle that traverses through various states such as leased, purchased, in-repair, and in-use. These states help you track the complete life cycle of the assets, resulting in better resource utilization. When these assets move from one state to another, the central asset repository should be updated with the reason, time stamp, and the name of the person who modifies the state. This updated information lets you stay current, have control over your assets, and make effective purchase decisions. For example, a purchase manager can opt to lease or purchase a new asset as a replacement for an existing asset that is in the disposed or in-repair state.
Extend Asset Management to other ITIL Processes
Asset management is not a stand-alone process. It has to be integrated with other ITIL processes to help IT personnel make informed decisions. It enhances the rate at which incidents, problems, and changes are closed by providing detailed information about the assets involved. Here is how asset management supports some of the ITIL processes:
Incident management – Provides key diagnostic information about assets used by the requester and helps access any computer or server via a remote control feature to troubleshoot issues.
Problem management – Provides asset information to identify root cause of problems.
Change management – Helps you to carry out a change with proper planning and ensures minimal business downtime. Furthermore, asset relationships help you understand how planned changes can impact the IT environment.
Automate Alerts and Notifications
Asset management usually involves a lot of stakeholders, including end users (who would be affected if an asset fails) and asset managers (who are responsible to track and maintain the assets). It is important to notify these stakeholders about changes in your asset infrastructure via automatic alerts and notifications. By doing so, stakeholders can proactively take steps to avert or reduce the occurrence of incidents. For example, announcing a server failure before it occurs would prevent end users from logging server failure tickets with the help desk tool. Similarly, notifying a purchase manager about a license or contract that will soon expire would allow the manager to purchase extra licenses and stay compliant.
Report and Share Asset Data
Creating and sharing detailed asset-related reports frequently gives the decision makers a regularly updated snapshot of your IT infrastructure. These quantitative asset reports can help them to prepare for audits and formulate financial budgets more precisely. Here are some most commonly generated reports:
Unauthorized usage of hardware and software
Detection of unauthorized configuration items
Assets identified as the cause of service failures
Ratio of used licenses to purchased licenses
Average cost of a license
Take ITAM Beyond IT
Often IT asset managers ask themselves, “Should I track all my non-IT assets too?” After setting up a central repository for tracking and maintaining all your IT assets, it is only logical to extend the scope of ITAM to non-IT assets as this would prevent another department from re-inventing the wheel. It is vital to track all your non-IT assets such as generators, air conditioning units, refrigerators, and furniture in order to understand your organization’s financial spending and revise your budget. Non-IT assets can be added into your help desk by importing .csv files or scanning bar codes.
The points described above could be a good starting point for you to implement ITAM in your organization. And that is guaranteed to accelerate performance, compliance, and efficiency in your IT service desk operations.
Check out the original publication of this article on eweek