Buyer's Guide for ITAM Software
What is IT Asset Management (ITAM)?
In its simplest form, IT Asset Management is the process of creating an IT Asset Register for all of your IT Inventory. IT Inventory can consist of:
- On-premise software tools
- Cloud-based software apps
- Telephones, routers and servers
From a data standpoint, an IT Asset Management software application will record all of your IT Inventory metadata; metadata is the data that identifies IT Assets. Some examples of metadata are:
- Serial number
- Software version
- User name
- Employee ID
- Purchase date
- Project allocation
- Service allocation
- Service Instance
From a technical standpoint, IT Asset Management is a process of:
- Discovering assets using agent or agent-less discovery options
- Mapping end-points and software applications to location and users
- Monitoring and safeguarding your LAN/WAN environments
- Managing entitlements
- Securing your network against unidentified cyber intrusion
From an IT Terminology standpoint, IT Asset Management involves:
- Network Management
- Systems Management
- IT Security
- Database Management
- IT Help Desk
- Application Management
Top 6 Problems Solved by ITAM Software
1. Helps to create your own rules to manage your IT Inventory.
With ITAM, you can create your own IT Assets and Inventory Register with metadata rules which are personalised and configured to your IT Inventory and your IT needs.
2. Provides clarity on location, status, usage and users of all your IT Assets.
3. Helps to safeguard your hardware and software inventory which reduces cyber risks.
4. Reduces total cost of ownership of your IT Inventory.
5. Tracks compliance adherence.
6. Provides data for audit management scenarios.
How can ITAM Software Help with IT Asset Management?
IT Asset Management is a process which changes and evolves with your IT needs. IT Asset Management Software helps you to define your ITAM process. Standardise it, and then evolve it with your IT needs.
It is important to note that your definitions of managing your own IT Inventory change rapidly. They depend on:
- The number of on-premise vs cloud-based assets
- Hardware like Desktops, Laptops, Smartphones, Servers… access to your employees
- Projects and services that your company provides
- Cyber risk of your company
If you have more than 50 employees, then keeping an accurate record of your IT inventory using spreadsheets often leads to missed renewal and entitlement opportunities. An IT Asset Management Software helps IT, Teams, to quickly know the location, status, usage and user of each of their IT Assets.
6 Standout Benefits of IT Asset Management Software
1. Provides Continuous and Accurate Discovery of Your IT Inventory
Very few IT Teams, have an accurate view of their IT Inventory on their Local Area Network (LAN). If you have offices in multiple locations, then you have multiple LAN’s, which compounds this problem.
One way to know all your IT Assets is to work with your procurement department. Get an export of all the IT Items purchased. The major problem with this approach is, most vendors do not provide network-identifiable details with their invoice.
So, developing an IT Asset Register using information from procurement can be challenging.
If you have more than fifty IT Assets, then using a spreadsheet becomes very challenging. It is important to note that the metadata about your IT Inventory changes frequently. For example:
- 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
Knowing what you have on your network using a manual spreadsheet-based approach quite often slows down Enterprise IT Management. An ITAM Software with Asset Discovery capability helps IT Managers to continuously and accurately get an insight into their IT Inventory on their LAN network.
2. Provides On-demand and Data-Accurate IT Asset Register
What you have on your network is only one part of the equation. Who is using your IT Inventory? When was an IT Asset bought? Renewal Date. Are the IT Assets related to a project or a service or a department? These are important pieces of information that IT teams need to know.
IT Asset Management Software provides a flexible yet personalised framework for your business. For example:
- ITAM tool provides clarity on hardware and software apps used by users, location and department
- ITAM tool records license renewal dates by location, department or criticality
- It can help you to tag your hardware inventory with barcodes, QR Codes or NFC’s so that you can keep track of your hardware inventory
3. Defining and Maintaining Dynamic Relationships Between IT Assets and Employees
Technically this is CMDB which stands for Configuration Management Database.
The fundamental idea behind using an IT Asset Management Software instead of a spreadsheet is that ITAM allows you to define and maintain dynamic relationships between your IT Assets, your workflows and your employees.
The word dynamic in the previous sentence is important and very deep. How you deal with IT Inventory for C-Level Employees, Managers and Associates are different. You need a different configuration for each of these types of employees.
Your support team may require two monitors but your sales team may require only one. Your remote employees may require VPN or Cloud-based access to store data on your server.
All of the above changes every six months, if not every three, because your business changes every quarter. ITAM tool offers to define and maintain the changes in your IT Ecosystem without losing historic information.
4. Resolving Your Employees’ IT Issues Using an IT Help Desk.
There should be no help desk. But nobody reads manuals. The help sections of most hardware and software products require a PhD-level understanding of the products. So employees approach IT for help.
IT Asset Management Software with Help Desk Features allows you to use your IT Asset Register to quickly create incidents or support tickets. You can relate them to the employee and/or the IT Asset. The speed at which you can log the incident and understand the problem as well as the context of the problem is vastly improved due to your IT Asset Register.
There are specialist IT Help Desk Tools known as IT Service Management tools which provide comprehensive features surrounding IT Service Delivery and help employees and customers to use your IT Inventory.
5. Reducing Costs of IT Ecosystem by Reporting on Key IT Performance Indicators.
Once you know the users and usage of your software and hardware inventory, it is then easy to optimise the costs of your IT Ecosystem. For example, you can combine renewals of your software licenses and get volume-driven discounts from vendors.
You can be very proactive with your procurement activities: you can review alternative products and services well before your current IT Assets come up for renewal.
You can reduce the number of software licenses needed just by knowing your usage levels.
If your IT Asset Management Software is implemented correctly, you should be able to see a reduction of 10% to 30% of your IT costs.
6. Compliance and Audit Management.
Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, Adobe and almost all medium-to-large software vendors routinely audit the license conditions of their software usage. Using network-based monitoring tools, software companies can get an idea of how their licenses are used.
IT teams, therefore, need to know who is using their software licenses and how. ITAM tools offer a clear view of software licences by usage and users, which allows IT Teams to be aware of the compliance adherence with their contractual agreements.
ITAM tools have been known to eliminate non-compliance and neutralise audit situations effectively.
9 Ways to Identify the Best ITAM Software For Your IT Needs
Identifying the best IT Asset Management Software for your requirements is a complex and time-consuming process. We have prepared a 9 point framework which will allow you to pick the best ITAM tool for your business.
1. Do you Need IT Asset Management Software?
Sometimes a spreadsheet is a better solution, especially if you are a team of under ten people with fewer than seventy-five IT Assets. In this case, a spreadsheet-based IT Asset Register is practical and value-effective.
For IT Teams who manage more than 250 IT Assets, an ITAM solution is a part of the solution, not the solution itself.
There are 4 components for effective IT Management:
1. Clarity on what you mean by IT Asset Management
2. The targets you want to achieve with your IT Asset Management Solution
3. Your IT Inventory management processes and workflows
4. Adoption of the tool by your IT Team and Employees
It is very common to see an ITAM tool as the complete solution for current IT problems and a focus on features and capabilities of ITAM products. However, an IT tool will just automate your processes using your data. If your data and processes are not optimised for your IT needs, then it will be just another tool that collects data.
So, do you need an IT Asset Management solution to automate correct data and good processes or are you finding good data and processes in an ITAM tool?
If the first option is relevant for you, then you’re ready to shortlist and compare IT Asset Management software. Use this search assistant to find your best ITAM solution.
If you are looking for the second option, then just choosing an ITAM tool is not the answer. Please review the topics below to find the best IT Asset Management tool.
2. Identify and Clarify the Level of Your Organisational Readiness to Adopt an IT Asset Management Solution
- A simple IT Inventory discovery tool
- Are looking for alternatives to their existing software
Most IT Teams considering a new ITAM tool either use:
87% of the companies (analysed based on 641 leads on Comparesoft) looking for a new ITAM software solution typically migrate from spreadsheets. Moving away from spreadsheets is not just a tool change; it requires a change in mindset and perspective too.
The way you record IT Inventory in a spreadsheet is very different from a contemporary IT tool. For example, you no longer have to export data from your network discovery tool or enter that data in a spreadsheet. The best IT asset management software integrates with an agent or agent-less discovery tools, and imports 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.
So most companies don’t get to standardisation or one source of truth with spreadsheets. If this is your organisation’s current situation, the first question to ask would be whether your organisation is ready for a single tool that gives you an accurate view of your IT Inventory.
3. Setting Targets for Your IT Asset Management Software
Your decision to invest in an IT Asset Management tool is a decision to invest cash and time. So whilst the focus should be:
- Better IT Inventory Management
- An accurate IT Asset Register
- A secured IT Network
- 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 Would Like to Hold in Your IT Asset Management Software
You can create a single source of truth if you agree on the details you want to collect on data. It is worth noting that your IT Inventory will not have consistent data. Every manufacturer records the information differently, so most IT Teams end up relying on good old Serial Numbers for core identification.
Identifying the information (technically known as metadata) you want to hold by IT Inventory type is a detailed exercise. This may sometimes 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, agreeing on the incident types, knowledge-base, incident routing and escalation is highly recommended.
Take an employee’s view to create their IT help desk. You know they are not as IT literate as you. We have seen incident types with thirty drop-down options. If your drop-down options are not concise it’s not easy to use and adoption of your help desk will be compromised. Employees may revert back to emailing IT teams.
Carefully review and inspect data from your existing spreadsheet or systems. 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 your 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 and systems, terminologies like:
- Inventory or Stock
- Disk Space or Storage
- Cloud- or Web-based
- On-premise or Installed
- Monitors or Screens
- Entitlements or allocations, are some examples of duplicated terminologies
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. ITAM and Cybersecurity
The fundamental concept is that with an ITAM tool you will know how many IT Assets you have, their status, location and users. Using this information, you can:
- Identify most valuable and vulnerable assets
- Identify users who may require cybersecurity training
- Always keep your network patched
- Use information from your IT help desk to identify patterns between users and usage which will help you to ring-fence your IT Infrastructure
All of the above will help you to reduce cyber intrusion.
6. What to Look for, in ITAM Tools
The IT tool you have chosen should be one that’s been adopted in your industry and it should have the features you are after. This will ensure your organisation benefits from your choice and gets the best ITAM tool.
The industry fit is more important than most people think. Every industry is different. And every business is different. However, the degree of similarities between the two businesses within 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:
1. 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.
2. 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 which were built from the ground-up to manage software assets. Some tools were built for hardware inventory management. Some prioritised help desk. And some were built for agent-less or agent-based discovery. It is advantageous to prioritise your requirements first, and then choose a tool based on your priorities. You can use this tool to clarify and outline your requirements.
The big differentiating factor is 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 minimum 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.
This also links back to the industry adoption point. Users in the same industry tend to have a similar user interface and product experience preferences.
7. Why Free Trials are More Important Than Demos
It is quite 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 what they want and what they want to see. 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 with your data so that you can get a better perspective of the tool and minimise the risk of choosing the wrong one.
We also recommend that you ask your colleagues and users to take free trials of the product so that you can gauge how well the system can be adopted.
8. Implementation and Adoption of Your IT Asset Management Tool
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 tool can do more damage than cure.
Implementation and adoption of an IT Asset Management tool needs a clear road-map 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 remain the number one reason for project failures, so we highly recommend that you drive clarity on your implementation and adoption road-map.
9. Making a Decision – Emotions, Logic and Competency.
Whilst a decision to buy the tool will be emotional because 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 in a quantitative way.
|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|