In today’s digitized business landscape, commercial growth is contingent on maintaining a functional and up-to-date IT system. Such maintenance is commonly referred to as IT asset management, and it requires a substantial amount of effort and planning to be successful.
If you’re new to the world of IT asset management and are unsure how to go about it, don’t fret. We’ve collated a quick guide to IT asset management best practices for startups and growing businesses. Whether you’re a chief information officer (CIO), an IT manager, or the owner of a small business, there’s never been a better time to educate yourself about IT asset management solutions.
Table of Contents
- What does IT asset management entail?
- IT Asset Management Best Practices
- 1. Find a tracking tool that works for you
- 2. Make IT asset management a daily concern
- 3. Perform regular audits
- 4. Put together an IT asset management team
- 5. Focus on asset lifecycles
- 6. Automation is key
- 7. Prioritize your financial commitments to other parties
- 8. Feel free to reach out to vendor support services
- The bottom line: Integrate IT asset management into the culture of your company
What does IT asset management entail?
Simply put, IT asset management is the process of tracking and managing your company’s various IT assets such as hardware, software, digitized data, and network solutions. Asset management aims to optimize the efficacy of your IT systems, reduce expenditure, and ensure all employees can carry out necessary tasks.
Nowadays, many companies invest in IT tracking software that enables users to store key information about business assets in a centralized place. This information could include, amongst other things:
- Financial information such as maintenance and repair costs, past and future upgrade prices, and purchase prices.
- An inventory keeping track of the locations and conditions of IT assets.
- Contractual data such as leases, licenses, and warranties.
Keeping track of this information ensures that your IT systems are kept up-to-date and that relevant suppliers or software as a service (SaaS) companies get paid on time. Maintaining an up-to-date inventory is particularly important if you want to assign laptops or cell phones to large numbers of employees, as it helps to avoid loss of assets or theft.
IT Asset Management Best Practices
Some companies require more extensive asset management strategies than others, depending on their size, the kinds of everyday operations they carry out, and their budget. However, there are some IT asset management best practices every team leader or CIO should follow, including:
1. Find a tracking tool that works for you
Before you go about implementing an IT asset management strategy and assigning tasks to team members, you must invest in an effective tracking tool. There are many options on the market, each of which caters for different budgets, sectors, and requirements. In this way, it is a good idea to do your research and shop around before committing to a platform.
When browsing your options, try to find a tool with the following features:
- Hardware and software tracking options: This will ensure you can easily keep track of key asset metrics such as license terms, utilization rates, monitoring costs, repair costs, update requirements, and more.
- Trackers designed to identify underused or overused IT assets.
- IT asset lifecycle monitoring: This will help you and your colleagues ascertain the likely longevity of a particular asset and alert you to any necessary updates.
- Asset discovery options that automatically add new IT assets to your inventory.
- A user-friendly interface that doesn’t require extensive training to understand: Remember that employees may need to use an IT asset management tool to request new software or report faults.
- End-to-end IT asset lifecycle management: This will ensure all stages of an asset’s lifecycle are covered, including procurement and disposal.
- Report generation options to make internal communications and meeting preparation as simple as possible.
- Alerts that tell you when licenses or agreements are about to expire.
It is also important to check that prospective tools are compatible with your current IT assets to avoid creating extra work for your IT operatives.
2. Make IT asset management a daily concern
IT asset management must be ongoing and thorough to be successful, meaning it should be fully integrated across all business teams and regularly updated to suit current IT trends. In practice, this could involve the following:
- Training all new employees to use your IT asset management tools, including guidelines about placing software requests or logging data points. To ensure employees use the tools regularly, you may wish to issue regular reminders about best practices and upload helpful guidance to your local intranet.
- Assessing weekly IT asset usage reports and making any necessary adjustments to your inventory. You may, for example, wish to downgrade a certain software subscription if it is underused or purchase additional units of assets that are in demand.
- Ensuring all relevant assets are returned by employees at the end of the week. This step is very important if your IT department regularly issues hardware such as filming equipment, laptops, or microphones.
3. Perform regular audits
Audits are comprehensive assessments of your IT system and require managers to present up-to-date compliance records, licenses, and inventories. If you perform such audits regularly, your employees are more likely to be proactive about keeping track of assets on a day-to-day level. Maintaining up-to-date records in this way is the best way to avoid significant fines incurred from missed payments or compliance issues.
4. Put together an IT asset management team
It is a smart idea to assemble a dedicated IT asset management team responsible for implementing your asset management tool and training employees in best practices. If your company is very big and the task is extensive, you may even wish to hire an asset management expert to get the ball rolling.
The team should comprise employees from all levels of the company, including IT experts and senior managers. We recommend selecting effective communicators who will happily spread the word about any changes to asset management processes. You must also clearly delegate tasks and responsibilities to the team. Financial officers, for example, could be enlisted to write up reports about the cost-effectiveness of certain assets, while human resources professionals could organize valuable company-wide training sessions.
5. Focus on asset lifecycles
Nothing lasts forever, and every IT asset has an expiration date, no matter how robust it appears to be. With this in mind, you must keep track of the lifecycles of your assets to ensure your business operations run smoothly. Lifecycle stages you need to monitor include:
- Planning: This is the step whereby team members or managers recognize a gap in your IT systems and request the purchase of new hardware, software, or services. It also involves the approval of the investment by a senior employee.
- Procurement: This stage involves buying the asset or investing in a license.
- Deployment: This stage involves introducing new assets into your IT environment and showing employees how to access them.
- Maintenance: When assets are damaged, broken, or not working to their full potential, you may need to invest in repairs or upgrades to maximize their potential.
- Retirement: Retiring an asset that is no longer in use means selling it or disposing of it safely. For subscription software, it will involve terminating a license agreement.
By tracking assets’ lifecycle statuses, you can ensure that you’re making the most of your investments. For example, retiring an asset before it completely wears out will enable you to sell it and boost the amount of money you have available to spend on a replacement.
6. Automation is key
Decent IT asset management software will enable you to automate as many tasks as possible, thereby saving time and money. Rather than scrolling through endless spreadsheets, adjust your system settings so that new IT assets are automatically added to your inventory and usage and compliance reports can be generated automatically. You should also activate any notifications that tell you when licenses are about to expire or when an asset is nearing retirement.
7. Prioritize your financial commitments to other parties
While replacing faulty assets is undoubtedly vital, the most important element of IT asset management is ensuring your licenses and other financial commitments are paid in full and on time. Failure to track terms and conditions could result in entitlement violations and a hefty fine – the last thing any growing business needs.
8. Feel free to reach out to vendor support services
Most IT asset management platform providers offer after-sales support services to help you and your colleagues navigate their various features. If you’re unsure about how to use the software, or how to make the most of it, don’t hesitate to reach out to your provider’s support team. If you’re new to the world of IT asset management, you could benefit significantly from having a dedicated team of experts on your side.
As you can see, IT asset management doesn’t have to be rocket science. By following a few best practices, you can successfully minimize your IT spend, reduce errors and downtime, and maintain impeccable compliance rates.
To get optimal results, however, you will need to invest in an effective asset management tool that employees can easily get on board with. Tracking assets is, ultimately, a company-wide effort, so try to build a company culture that takes this into account.