A strong asset management strategy ensures that you fully understand all of the technology that’s under your roof, including what you or your customer owns, who is responsible for or using the assets, and the documentation of the whole lifecycle of the asset – from onboarding to removal.
IT asset management is often called ITAM, and there are a number of important benefits to having a robust ITAM process in place. First off, it provides clear visibility into everything that you own, or that you’re managing on behalf of a customer environment. This list will include physical assets, such as all machines, laptops, printers, routers and servers, and also intangible assets that are your responsibility, including software licenses and subscriptions, contracts with third-party vendors, and purchase orders.
If you don’t have an IT asset management solution, you’re relying on manually recording all of the information about each of these parts of the business, and trusting that when ownership changes, when a problem occurs, or when an asset is either removed or added to the environment, the right stakeholder will update the spreadsheet or the file. That’s your best-case scenario. More likely, you’ll end up with gaps and blind spots.
In contrast, an asset management software gives you a single pane of glass into all of your assets. You can see all asset owners and tasks, location information about licenses, contracts and hardware, and information about machines, servers and other hardware in a single view.
IT asset management is about more than just knowing what’s inside your environment, although greater visibility into your assets is an awesome benefit in and of itself. Here are just some of the added advantages of implementing ITAM in your strategy.
With one view of everything that you manage, it’s much easier to make intelligent purchases around what you need, for example planning ahead for machines that are coming to their end-of-life in six months by buying in bulk during a sale, or updating a warranty at a reduced price rather than waiting until you’re caught short. You can improve your client budgeting process by thinking ahead to what they’re going to need, and in internal IT, you can also increase the accountability of each department to take what they need from their budget, rather than making everything “ITs problem”.
Depending on your industry and sector, asset management will have its own regulatory requirements in terms of compliance. Usually these will dictate who is allowed access to certain machines, data, information and content – and in case of an audit or worst case scenario a data breach, you’ll be asked to show how you manage and monitor these permissions. Having a full view of all of your assets also means that you know where critical compliance reports and documentation are held when you need them, and you aren’t left scrambling looking for the person responsible in case they are needed at five minutes to midnight.
Shadow IT is a real problem in many IT environments, where employees often onboard software or even hardware without telling the IT department. Perhaps it’s a free SaaS subscription to a tool that makes their working life easier, or even a paid subscription that they own from home and have added to their work laptop. They might not even realize this is a problem, but adding third-party access to the network should only come with the approval of the IT department. Without a strong ITAM procedure, these additions may lie dormant and under the radar, until a cyber-attack happens. Your employees or customers may even leave their company without telling anyone, leaving you unsure what’s going on in your own house.
Whether you’re an MSP managing dozens of client environments, or an internal IT pro looking to keep a sprawling and dynamic organization under control, IT asset management makes it a lot easier to do your job. Redeploy assets quicker by knowing where everything is and what it’s responsible for, manage your contracts, warranties and licenses from a single screen, automate the renewal of important contracts so that you’re never left with gaps or risk in your relationships, and plan ahead to manage assets that depreciate quickly or need updating.
How much time do your technicians or your IT team spend looking for the answer to problems? Whether it’s the root cause of downtime or delay, or the person responsible for a specific part of the business, all of this is simply time wasted. A smart approach to IT asset management means that these answers are always at your fingertips, giving you a list of what you have, the status of the hardware or software, the person using this item, and details about its use, communications, and needs. All of that saved time can be channelled back into core value, whether it’s working on a new product or feature, supporting customers, or even adding innovation and creativity to the business.
You can automate the way that you manage IT asset management with the help of tools such as Network Discovery. These will scan your entire network and take note of all hardware and machines that are connected to the network. You’ll get a full list of everything in your environment, including details such as the make and the model of each device, what the device is doing in the network, and even details about how it is running, including the CPU, memory and storage. This kind of technology allows you to get seriously proactive about your environment, for example reaching out to an end-user when their machine is running slow and suggesting a fix, or even remotely accessing the machine and doing it for them, rather than waiting for them to pick up the phone and complain.
Software can also be managed as part of an IT asset management plan by using server and endpoint monitoring through your RMM. Each device will be automatically scanned, and then all software that has been installed will be listed. This can show you granular details like how much use a particular software license is having throughout your company, proving the ROI of an expensive subscription, or on the other hand – supporting your plan to churn at the time of renewal. If you need more licenses, ITAM is the best way of getting a single source of truth into your usage, and similarly, if you realize that you’re over-purchasing on software licenses, you can use the data to reduce spend and free up budget to be sent elsewhere.
By ensuring you have a complete list of all software that is in use, you know that your patch management processes are accurate and aligned with the needs of the business. When you create a software bundle through Chocolatey or Homebrew for example, you can compare it with your list of software and make sure that no technology is left unpatched, which could be opening the whole network up to risk.
With smart alerts set up and aligned with your network discovery or asset management tools, you can also get insight into when it’s time to depreciate or update any of your assets, for example if an operating system is nearing end of life, if a machine is likely to be reaching the end of its productive years, or if a piece of software is no longer being managed by its vendor. This information is essential not just for staying up to date, but for maximizing both security and productivity. As an MSP, showing your clients that you have x-ray vision into the status of their environment, including what their staff are using and not declaring, or what is likely to stop working within the next 12-24 months will ensure you’re a trusted consultant rather than just the Mr Fix-it.
If we use the Gartner definition, “IT asset management (ITAM) provides an accurate account of technology asset lifecycle costs and risks to maximize the business value of technology strategy, architecture, funding, contractual and sourcing decisions.”
Think of IT asset management like your single pane of glass into all of the assets that you manage, whether that’s for your own corporate IT, or for multiple client environments. Atera’s all-in-one RMM takes IT asset management very seriously, with Network discovery tools that offer you a full inventory of everything you need to know, including assets, status, and even the financial value of what services are left on the table. You can monitor and manage everything in your purview, as well as automate essential elements of asset management from alerting your teams in case of contract renewals or license upgrades, to software patching and installation.
Want more control over your IT environment, and a clearer understanding of the what’s, where’s, when’s and whys? Start now with a free trial of Atera’s RMM, PSA and Remote Access.