IT Asset Management Software is a digital tool used to monitor, track, and manage IT assets. It is used by IT managers to improve their network infrastructure visibility. Mainly through the processes of asset, life cycle, and inventory management. Businesses can track software licences, IT hardware such as computers, and cloud subscriptions. Essentially enabling organisations to build accurate IT asset registers and CMDBs. ITAM Software ensures compliance, greater asset discovery, and improved audit management.
What Is IT Asset Management Software (ITAM)?
IT Asset Management Software is a digital tool that provides a holistic overview of IT inventory. It is used by IT managers and teams to manage software, hardware, and cloud assets. Enabling businesses to improve life cycle management. Whilst also tracking assets in the most time and cost-efficient manner. By collecting asset data, organisations can build a database of their entire inventory.
For an organisation of any size, tracking and monitoring its IT assets can be overwhelming. Particularly for larger businesses with thousands of desktops, servers, and software licences to manage. But that’s where IT Asset Management Software can help.
ITAM tools enable businesses to not only digitise asset data but to automate it too. Simply by providing the right features and capabilities to do so. Most ITAM solutions have similar features, such as:
Real-Time IT Hardware Tracking
Building an IT asset database requires the use of accurate data. An ITAM system enables asset managers to collect data accurately with real-time tracking tools. That includes the use of RFID tags, barcodes, QR codes, and GPS trackers. Each tracking and tagging technology can be attached to several physical assets, big or small. These include computers, servers, furniture, and consumables such as keyboards. Storing all IT asset data in one centralised system has several benefits, including:
- Having complete transparency of all assets
- Ensuring assets remain compliant with regulatory standards
- Providing an accurate audit trail
- Helping to track and identify asset locations
- Preventing assets from being lost or stolen
- Calculating asset depreciation
- Estimating maintenance and repair costs
Software Asset Management
Software asset management (SAM) enables businesses to track and manage the use of their software applications. That includes monitoring licence entitlements and licence compliance to avoid risks and fines. As well as tracking software usage data and employee consumption. Allowing IT managers to control the costs of software procurement. With software asset management in place, businesses can build objectives around:
- Software life cycle management
- Employee onboarding and offboarding
- Software licence management (SLM)
- Software usage monitoring
- Audit reporting and data analytics
Cloud Subscription Management
Cloud asset management (CAM) is similar to typical IT hardware and software management processes. The only difference is it is specifically aimed at tracking and monitoring cloud subscriptions. CAM tools enable IT managers to track every aspect of their network’s cloud estate. That includes monitoring compliance, maintenance, and inventory. Essentially, managing cloud assets helps to improve security efforts and compliance. Ensuring a business’s cloud infrastructure operates smoothly.
Life Cycle Management
IT managers will monitor all IT assets moving in and out of an organisation. Meaning they can effectively manage the life cycle of each individual asset. The management of an IT asset’s life cycle starts with planning. It then goes through to purchase, deployment, maintenance, and eventually retirement. A detailed monitoring process helps managers to make financial, tactical, and strategic decisions. Effective life cycle management can reduce cost-per-asset by as much as 30% in the first year.
IT asset discovery enables businesses to have complete visibility of their network infrastructure. This is possible by building a digital inventory of all IT assets in an organisation. As IT infrastructures frequently change, asset discovery provides a regular up-to-date view of assets. Asset discovery can be beneficial for businesses in several ways, including:
- Helping to make data-driven decisions
- Improving the management of software and cloud licences
- Identifying unauthorised software and applications
- Generating important data across network devices
Configuration Management Database (CMDB)
A CMDB allows a business to keep a repository of all Configuration Items (CIs) on a network. Through a CMDB, businesses can better understand the relationship between CIs. Allowing them to identify the impact that one CI might have on other CIs. A CMDB is designed to support complex IT infrastructures.
Purchase Order and Contract Management
When purchasing IT equipment, a contract management tool helps to manage the purchase order cycle. Whilst also sending notifications and alerts to stakeholders to approve procurement. Likewise, if a business has contracts with multiple vendors, it can keep everything in one place. Including data such as terms and conditions, expiry dates, and renewal information.
Why ITAM Is Important For Managing Your IT Assets
IT asset management is the management of IT assets within an organisation. That includes monitors, servers, desktops, software licences, and cloud applications. The purpose of an IT management system is to maximise the value of a business’s IT assets. Whilst also minimising risks such as poor asset discovery, procurement costs, and network security.
The process of managing IT assets joins several data outputs into one central place. Including financial, inventory, contractual, and risk management. All of which help businesses to better understand life cycle management.
IT assets can be broken down into four main groups. They are locally installed software, hardware, cloud-based applications, and mobile devices. When it comes to managing and tracking IT assets, IT organisations can capitalise on:
- Storing records of all software, hardware, mobile, and cloud assets
- Storing software licence management data
- Tracking and monitoring hardware assets
- Managing maintenance and planning for replacements
- Improving the process of audit management
- Gaining access to subscriptions and usage data
The Benefits of IT Asset Management Software
ITAM software provides several benefits when it comes to enhancing IT asset management, including:
Accurate Discovery of IT Inventory
Very few IT teams have an accurate view of their IT Inventory on their Local Area Network (LAN). If offices are spread across multiple locations, businesses will have multiple LANs. This compounds the issue of lack of asset discovery.
One way to identify IT Assets is to work with the procurement department and review purchase reports. But, most vendors do not provide network-identifiable details within invoices. So, developing an IT Asset Register with this data can be challenging. If a business has 50 or more IT assets to register, spreadsheet-based methods can become an issue.
But, that’s where IT Asset Management Software can help. Asset discovery enables IT managers to get an insight into IT Inventory on their LAN network. When building an asset register, IT Inventory metadata can frequently change. For instance:
- Software versions change after updates
- Patch details change
- Employees leave so their data needs to be stored for their replacement
- New joiners need to get their IT Inventory on time
- Software patches can change metadata
- Hardware renewals
- Instance Server Changes
Real-Time IT Asset Register
Listing an asset on a local area network is only one part of the equation. Data regarding each individual asset needs to be collected and stored. This is achieved through real-time tracking and monitoring processes. The data stored on an IT inventory system allows stakeholders to know:
- Who is using a piece of IT equipment
- When an asset was purchased
- The renewal dates of software licences
- What assets are related to a project, a service, or a department
IT Management Software also provides a flexible yet personalised framework for businesses. Helping to provide clarity on hardware and software apps by users, location, and department. As well as allowing asset managers to tag hardware inventory with barcodes, QR Codes, and NFC tags.
Dynamic Relationships Between IT Equipment and Employees
IT Asset Management Software is designed to replace manual and error-prone tools such as spreadsheets. By doing so, an ITAM system allows users to define and maintain dynamic relationships. Specifically between IT Assets, workflows, and employees. This can often be referred to as a CMDB or a Configuration Management Database.
The word dynamic is important. It highlights the difference in how a business deals with IT inventory for C-level staff. Businesses will generally need a different configuration for each type of employee. For instance, a support team may require two monitors. Whereas a sales team may only require one. Alternatively, remote employees may require a VPN or cloud-based access to store data on servers.
IT Asset Management Software Tools and KPIs
By understanding usage data, it’s easy for businesses to optimise the costs of their IT Ecosystem. They can also be proactive with their procurement activities. Such as reviewing alternative products and services well before current IT Assets are up for renewal. As well as reducing the number of software licences needed. Altogether, with ITAM Software, businesses can see a reduction of 10% to 30% in their overall IT costs.
Compliance and Audit Management Tools
Most medium-to-large software vendors routinely audit the licence conditions of their software usage. Including organisations such as Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, and Adobe. By using network-based monitoring tools, they can identify how their licences are being used. IT teams, therefore, need to know who is using each software licence and how. An ITAM system will allow IT managers to review a business’s software licences by usage and users. Making them aware of their compliance adherence with their contractual agreements.
Using ITAM Software for Inventory and Lifecycle Management
IT asset management is a process that evolves with a business’s IT needs. This makes it important to note that the definitions of managing IT Inventory can change rapidly. Without an automated tool, a business’s ITAM processes can become overwhelming and suffer. This is common when using methods such as pen-and-paper or spreadsheets for IT inventory. Spreadsheets can often lead to missed renewals and entitlement opportunities. Whereas an IT Asset Management Software system provides instant data to IT teams.
ITAM tools enable businesses to instantly see location, status, usage, and user data. They can also help to solve various other inventory-related issues in the workplace, such as:
- Creating rules to manage IT Inventory that is personalised and configured to a user’s needs
- Providing clarity on location, status, usage, and users of all IT Assets
- Helping to safeguard hardware and software inventory, reducing cyber risks
- Reducing total cost of ownership (TCO) of IT Inventory
- Tracking compliance adherence
- Providing data for audit management scenarios
Essentially, a business’s inventory of IT assets can be broken down into four main groups. These groups of assets are hardware, software, mobile devices, and cloud applications. Each group requires a different approach to inventory and life cycle management.
Software assets consist of computerised tools and operational information used in IT systems. Using an ITAM tool to manage software can be beneficial in several ways, including:
- Automating software updates to improve safety and network security
- Allowing IT asset managers to have an accurate record of all software in one system
- Enabling correct and accurate licence management of all software
- Integrating procurement systems to order and request software products
- Forecast software spending to dispose of or replace assets
Along with software, hardware equipment is an essential asset in an IT setting. Hardware assets consist of computers, wiring, servers and other physical components. Hardware also falls under traditional asset management tasks that monitor and track physical items. Using ITAM Software to manage hardware assets allows businesses to:
- Track and monitor physical IT equipment in real-time
- Reduce the number of hardware assets that are lost, stolen, or misplaced
- Manage maintenance and plan for replacements once an asset reaches the end of its usable life
- Record hardware licence management to avoid under-licensing and over-licensing issues
- Significantly improve the process of auditing and compliance
Mobile and Tablet Devices
IT Asset Management tools can be managed on the go using a mobile or tablet device. This can be effective when monitoring physical assets across multiple sites by different teams. With an increase in mobiles and tablets, asset management is needed to manage portable devices. It allows IT managers to:
- Manage the inventory of devices in one centralised system
- Deploy pre-configured WI-FI and email settings
- Create, assign, and modify device policies
- Enforce and manage security settings such as access, data security, and passwords
- View and manage apps installed across all devices
Cloud asset management encompasses cloud applications, subscriptions, and infrastructure. As opposed to the management of physical or digital assets on a cloud-based system. It’s predicted that over 80% of budgets will be committed to cloud applications in the future. Making the management of cloud applications a fundamental group for any ITAM tool. With this in mind, most asset management systems have standardised cloud asset management. This offers a vast range of capabilities, including:
- Managing digital assets stored on cloud databases
- Monitoring the condition and uptake of cloud services and coverage
- Gaining full access to subscriptions and usage data
- Managing the budget of cloud activity and forecast future spending
- Improving security and assurance of cloud assets
What Does an IT Asset Manager Do?
An IT asset manager is responsible for the management and maintenance of a company’s IT assets. Such as securing data-sensitive spreadsheets and providing software licences for multiple access. An IT asset manager’s workflow tasks are vast and typically consist of planning and procurement. As well as project management, technical support, and tracking assets.
Depending on the structure of a business, the roles of an IT asset manager can regularly change. Typical roles that an IT manager include:
- Calculating depreciation and ROI values
- Scheduling maintenance for IT equipment
- Planning for the procurement of assets
- Managing equipment users and usability
- Maintaining and renewing software licences
- Planning for the disposal or replacement of IT assets
Using IT equipment and infrastructure assets means an IT manager must have versatile skills. Especially when it comes to asset management. They must ensure network security across a business’s cloud-based applications and software licences. As well as planning maintenance for computer monitor defects. Essentially, an IT asset manager’s tasks can be broken down into four actions:
Planning and Procurement of IT Equipment
- Forecast and produce procurement strategies for hardware and software
- Plan development and upgrade procedures
- Valuable project management on a range of company-wide asset and technology projects
- Oversee the implementation and onboarding of new software and hardware solutions
- Regulate contracts and licences including negotiation, contract renewals, and vendor management
- Work with third-party suppliers on asset provision, troubleshooting, updates, and patches
- Support the IT asset management team with the day-to-day admin and processing of assets
- Manage security tools and security protocols
Management of IT Equipment
- Solely responsible for the management of inventory, maintenance schedules, and repairs
- Presenting key asset management data and reports to stakeholders
- Development and execution of asset management policies, procedures, and processes
- Forecast and budgeting management, as well as financial asset planning
- Improve quality control of assets including software, hardware, and cloud subscriptions
What’s the Difference Between ITAM and ITSM?
ITAM and ITSM are two IT management disciplines that help businesses to maximise IT resources and achieve optimal IT-business alignment. But, while their acronyms only differ by two letters, they’re both significantly different.
As both disciplines view a business’s entire IT environment from two different perspectives, it means they can also focus on different areas. As such, even if they overlap at times, ITAM offers benefits that ITSM can’t – and vice versa. Knowing the differences between these two disciplines can help IT managers and businesses to adopt the correct approach for their requirements.
What Is ITSM?
Whereas ITAM manages asset accountability, IT Service Management focuses on the delivery of IT services. The end-to-end delivery of services allows organisations to run smoothly. Essentially, IT service management can be determined as IT support. Ensuring IT teams provide the best support regarding a company’s IT assets. Whether that be setting up hardware or fixing software accessibility issues. However, ITSM goes beyond providing IT Support. Enabling IT personnel to be fully responsible for the management of end-to-end services.
There are several different processes under the ITSM umbrella, with the most common ones being:
- Incident Management
- Change Management
- Service Asset and Configuration Management
How Is ITIL Related to ITSM?
Contrary to what some people think, ITIL is not an alternative to ITSM. Rather, it’s a best practice framework for executing ITSM. Think of the class/object and cookie-cutter/cookie analogy commonly used in OOP. That’s how ITSM is related to ITIL.
ITIL’s not the only framework out there though. Other ITSM frameworks include:
- COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies)
- Microsoft Operations Framework
- Six Sigma
- ISO 20000
- TOGAF (The Open Group Architecture Framework)
How to Find the Best IT Asset Management Software for Your IT Processes
Identifying the best IT Asset Management Software for your requirements is a complex and time-consuming process for any business. But, by following our 9-point framework, you’ll have a better picture of what the best ITAM tool looks like for your IT processes.
1. Ask Yourself: Do You Need IT Asset Management Software?
Sometimes, a spreadsheet is a better solution. This is particularly true if you’re a team of fewer than 10 people with less than 75 IT Assets. In this case, a spreadsheet-based IT asset register can be practical and value-effective. But, for IT teams who manage more than 250 IT assets, ITAM software is the right option.
However, implementing the right tool is only part of the solution. There are many other components to consider when wanting to achieve effective management of IT inventory. Such as:
- Having clarity on what you mean by IT asset management
- Setting targets you want to achieve with an ITAM solution
- Managing your IT Inventory management processes and workflows
- Correctly deploying a tool that can be used by your IT team and employees
It‘s common for IT managers and businesses to view an ITAM tool as the only solution to their IT problems. But, an IT tool only has the power to automate processes using the data you already have. This means, that if your data is not optimised for your IT needs, then it will be just another tool that collects data.
So, ask yourself; do you need IT Asset Management Software to automate your correct data and improve processes? Or, are you searching for good data and processes within an ITAM tool?
If the first question is relevant to you, then you’re ready to shortlist and compare ITAM software.
2. Identify and Clarify the Level of Your Organisational Readiness to Adopt an IT Management Solution
Most IT teams and IT managers that consider implementing a new ITAM tool are most likely carrying out their current IT processes using:
- Basic IT Inventory discovery tools
- Free alternatives to existing software
One main reason why organisations begin searching for an ITAM tool is to start the migration from using error-prone spreadsheets. 87% of the companies (analysed based on 641 leads on Comparesoft) looking for new ITAM software typically migrate from spreadsheets.
But, moving away from spreadsheets is not just a tool change. It requires a change in mindset and perspective too.
The way you record Inventory in a spreadsheet is very different from a contemporary tool. For example, you no longer have to export data from your network discovery tool or enter data in a spreadsheet. The best IT Asset Management Software tools integrate with agent or agentless discovery tools and import the relevant metadata efficiently.
Version and access control on spreadsheets provide significant flexibility. But, when it comes to “standardised information entry” and looking for “one source of truth”, a spreadsheet-based approach can be very challenging.
3. Set Targets for Your IT Asset Management Software
Your decision to invest in IT Asset Management Software is a decision to invest cash and time. But it should also be an opportunity to focus on improvements, such as:
- Better IT inventory management
- Building an accurate IT asset register
- Having a secure IT Network
- Having on-demand visibility of IT usage by users, amongst other qualitative parameters
Below, is a basic example of the targets you should set for your ITAM tool.
|IT Inventory||Quantity||Current IT Spend Per Year||New IT Spend With ITAM Per Year|
4. Identify the IT Data (Metadata) That You Want to Hold In Your ITAM Software
You can create a single source of truth if you agree on the details and data you want to collect with your team. But, it is worth noting that your IT Inventory will not have consistent data as every manufacturer records data differently. So, most IT Teams end up relying on serial numbers for core identification.
Identifying the data you want to hold by IT Inventory type is a detailed exercise. This may require mapping the fields between your asset discovery tool and your ITAM tool. In some cases, agreeing on the information you want to collect may clarify the issues you are having with your existing ITAM tool.
If you are considering utilising help desk features then agreeing on the incident types, knowledge-base, incident routing, and escalation is highly recommended.
Be sure to carefully review and inspect data from your existing spreadsheet or system. Quite often, when you are looking to implement IT Asset Management Software, you need major workflow changes but minor changes to the way you capture and label metadata.
As you are considering a new ITAM tool, you may also want to review the terminologies and labels you have been using within your IT team. Such as:
- Inventory or stock
- Disk space or storage
- Cloud-based or web-based
- On-premise or installed
- Monitors or screens
- Entitlements or allocations
It’s important to keep the terminologies simple so that everybody in the team, from a new starter to an experienced employee, can understand them. Standardised simple terminologies compound IT effectiveness. The time you spend here generally pays multiple dividends in the quality of your ITAM system and also savings during implementation.
5. Highlight the Cybersecurity Benefits That an ITAM Tool Will Provide
Having effective IT Asset Management Software increases the chances of a more secure and less fragile network, which reduces cyber risk.
The fundamental concept is that with ITAM Software you will know how many IT Assets you have, their status, location, and users. Using this information, you can:
- Identify your most valuable and vulnerable assets
- Identify users who may require cybersecurity training
- Always keep your network patched
- Use data to identify patterns between users and usage, which will help you to ring-fence your IT Infrastructure
6. Identify the Features and Functions You Need From an ITAM Tool
The IT Management Software tool that you have chosen should be one that’s been adopted in your industry. But, most importantly, it should include the features that are critical for your IT processes. This will ensure your organisation benefits from your chosen tool and sees the best ROI.
The industry fit is more important than most people think, as every industry is different. However, the degree of similarities between the two businesses in the same industry is high. I guess this is a fancy way of saying Audi and BMW are similar, yet different.
Choosing an ITAM tool that is widely adopted in your industry has two main benefits:
- The product is already used in your industry so there is market validation that the terminologies of your industry can be easily used in the product.
- Every business is different. But within the same industry, the degree of difference is not very high, so the configuration of your IT Asset Management Software will be faster in a tool that is adopted by your industry.
Most tools have similar features and capabilities. It is very difficult to distinguish between tools based solely on features and capabilities without looking at a product demo. The key differentiating factor is the depth of the features. They can be found by knowing how/why a particular tool was built. There are ITAM tools that were built from the ground up to manage software assets. Some tools were built for hardware inventory management. Some prioritised help desk processes were built for agentless or agent-based discovery. It is advantageous to prioritise your requirements first, and then choose a tool based on those priorities.
The big differentiating factor is the user interface and how easy it is to use, but this aspect is very subjective. Some people like a clean, modern, and minimalist approach to user interfaces. Others prefer all information on one page with minimal clicks. Some prefer long interfaces and others prefer short A4-page-type interfaces. The only way to understand this attribute is to take a look at the product images and product videos on a vendor’s product. This also links back to the industry adoption point, as users in the same industry tend to have a similar user interface and product experience preferences.
7. Look Out for Free Trials and Demos of IT Management Products
When searching for the best IT Asset Management Software product, it can be tempting to start with a free trial. We see a lot of buyers jump at free trials of ITAM products even before they are clear about their requirements. Free trials at the start of your consideration cycle should be used to gauge user experience and product experience.
After you have shortlisted the best ITAM tools, free trials should be carried out using your data. This helps you to get a better perspective of the tool and minimises the risk of choosing the wrong one.
We also recommend that you ask your colleagues and users to take free trials of the product, too. So that you can gauge how well the system can be adopted throughout the organisation.
8. Implementing and Adopting Your Chosen IT Asset Management Software
66% cost overrun, 33% schedule overrun, and 13% shortfall on benefits. These are the average stats for a typical IT implementation, as per a study administered by McKinsey and Oxford.
Most IT asset management tools deliver about 10 to 15% in cost and efficiency savings. If the average shortfall is 17%, then there’s a real risk that your chosen ITAM solution can do more harm than good.
The implementation and adoption of IT Asset Management Software need a clear roadmap before you buy the tool. Your implementation and adoption roadmap should be clear. It should have buy-in from your peers and senior management, as well as your chosen software vendor. Lack of clarity and focus remains the number one reason for project failures. So, we highly recommend that you drive clarity on your implementation and adoption process.
9. Making Decisions Based on Emotions, Logic, and Competency
Whilst a decision to buy a tool will be based on emotion, as it is largely based on the people who represent the vendors, we suggest scoring the logic used to make your decision and the competency of your product quantitatively. Take a look at the table below as an example:
|Product A||Product B||Product C|
|Product Experience With Your Data||6/10||5/10||6/10|
|Industry Fit||20 customers||27 customers||16 customers|
|Total Cost||£100 per user||£120 per user||£180 per user|