It is general knowledge that most businesses are used to managing their IT assets through only a spreadsheet and a list of invoices. The critical problem with this system is that it is far too simple a mechanism to be able to maintain the asset inventory for hundreds or thousands of hardware devices and software licenses, let alone handle the different aspects of the IT asset life cycle like:
- Utilizing and renewing software licenses.
- Keeping track of IT hardware to ensure sufficient maintenance, upgrades, and removals.
- Valuing the entire IT infrastructure for accounting purposes.
- Having a detailed understanding of the IT inventory to keep it in line with the firm’s strategy.
So basically, by tracking your organizations’ IT assets, you are managing operations & maintenance, accounting, purchases & disposals, while still ensuring that all of this is in line with your business strategy. When the IT asset lifecycle is not managed effectively, you end up with lost assets, underutilized assets, inefficient audits, and lost employee hours. All of which accumulates into increased overheads that do not bring any revenue.
Manually listing and organizing assets in spreadsheets is not only a tedious and time-consuming task but will also not provide any automated insights necessary to manage the entire cycle efficiently. This is where the IT asset management (ITAM) process helps mitigate the issues with asset discovery and tracking.
What is Asset Discovery and Tracking?
The entire IT asset management process’s efficacy is dependent upon the robust discovery of assets. Asset discovery is basically a process that helps automatically discover all IT assets across your organization’s network. After discovering the asset, tracking would provide information about assets like the value of the assets, the current stage in their lifecycle, and their scrap value. Once all this data is collected in a CMDB, the process enables you to get timely automated alerts about assets like necessary license renewal, upgrades, servicing & maintenance, or scrapping to take necessary, data-driven actions.
Adopt a Systematic Approach to Asset Discovery
Like we mentioned earlier, your ITAM process should begin with a systematic, automatic asset discovery. Under this process, you should be able to automatically detect all pingable IT assets within or even outside your firm’s network. This will be critical in acquiring an exhaustive list of thousands of assets. It is more efficient than manually arranging all the invoices from the last few years. It’s more effective, too, because instead of beginning the process with a scavenging hunt, you are merely running a scan of your IT infrastructure.
If you want a more comprehensive understanding of your assets, you should consider agent-based discovery that allows you to detect assets outside the network or even idle assets. It has the functionality of updating the assets with a rule-based approach across a timeline. These rules will generally include Normalization and Prohibition Maintenance. This way proprietary information and data will remain protected, while the asset servicing is being taken care of.
Another option is to run an agent-less discovery process. Your system should execute a pull-based approach that works with a singular configuration for the assets. As far as each asset has a network credential that helps in its identification, your asset discovery system will be able to detect it.
Increase the Reach of Your Asset Discovery Process
IT asset management is an all-encompassing process of maintaining all types of assets on the IT infrastructure. Once assets have been discovered on the network, the next obvious thing to do is track the hardware, software, configuration data, and contracts to employ a good ITAM process. To be able to adequately track these assets, your ITAM solution should administer the following processes:
1. Lifecycle Management
The typical lifecycle of any IT asset goes through these stages – procurement, deployment, utilization, maintenance, and disposal. Every IT asset, whether software, hardware, or ancillary, goes through these stages in some way. Your platform should simplify your assets’ lifecycle management process for hardware, software, and even non-IT assets as it is an important process of asset management.
Managing asset lifecycles enables you to understand your organization’s requirements, make data-driven purchase decisions, make aggressive updates, and be aware of the total cost of ownership of each asset.
2. Inventory Management
With inventory management, you accurately and comprehensively record all the relevant information across all the asset classes. This would mean having accurate data on who is using what asset, since when, and with what features. This helps in keeping track of all discovered devices and applications across your organization.
3. Software Asset Management
Managing software assets require a lot of work because of their contractual intricacies. They are complicated because you have to optimize several variables – on the one hand, you have to update the software license consistently, and on the other, you have to keep track of the purchased vs. installed count for managed software.
Basically, your ITAM platform should give you a clear idea of what software has been bought under what contract, what software is being used on what devices, when is the license up for renewal, and what is the level of utility for each software in line with its features.
4. Compliance Management
As we mentioned above, managing software assets is always tricky. One reason is the compliance of software licenses. Compliance management is a process that supports businesses to stay in compliance with the software license requirement. A good platform should send you alerts if there is a non-compliance of license policy, if a software is being used after its validity has expired, or if software usage is dropping.
Employ the Right Technology for Accurate Tracking
Asset discovery is a critical part, but without the tracking process, there is no real value generated from the whole process. Thus, as you proceed with establishing the entire ITAM process, make sure you have the right technology for tracking your IT assets:
1. Barcode: This is one of the simplest and yet one of the most effective ways to take care of asset tracking. An ideal ITAM solution will generate unique barcodes for all your assets. These will be integrated with the CMDB which will help track and manage asset inventory and store asset information as per the teams, departments, locations, and ownership structures.
2. QR Code: QR Codes essentially offer the same functionality as the Barcodes. On top of that, they give the flexibility to capture more types of data along with faster and more convenient scanning with phones.
3. Notifications: Alert notifications about assets can help the IT team know if a software is suddenly uninstalled from a hardware asset or if a software is being used in an unauthorized manner. This helps in complying with license agreements.
4. Assignment and Approval Workflow Support: Finally, there should be an integrated workflow process going from the node of inquiry, to approval, to execution – all under one platform. This would make workflow processes more efficient, and your IT team more productive.
How Does Asset Discovery and Tracking Benefit your Business?
If you are with us so far, you must have already realized how beneficial a move from manual spreadsheets to automated asset discovery and tracking can be! Here are a few clear benefits of the process:
1. Cost Structure Analysis: As soon as you have located and tracked all your IT assets, you will have a very good grip on understanding the cost structure formed with this network of assets. Across all departments, teams, asset classes, and geographies, you will be able to allocate costs to specific assets and use-cases. By plotting this against the profit potential across a timeline, you can easily get a strategic view of the key areas of cost-inefficiencies that can be weeded out or controlled in the future.
2. Asset Utilization: One of the biggest issues with large networks of IT assets is that many assets lie idle or are underutilized. Once you have a track of what they are meant to do and what their real-time status is, you can deploy them at the right places where they can be utilized to their fullest or rework the number of licenses actually needed. This benefit extends across hardware assets and software licenses.
3. Inventory Management, Budgeting, and Financial Planning: As your asset discovery and tracking system becomes more robust, you will have a more accurate understanding of the inventory. You should also be able to integrate apt depreciation rates in a timely manner to ascertain the accurate accounting-value of the asset. This way, you will know how to forecast the needs and plan the budget for IT asset inventories.
4. Mitigate Compliance and Security Risks: A major benefit of this process is that you easily mitigate the compliance issues looming because of extensive and often complex software licenses. Tracking of assets also helps alleviate associated security risks from potential threats.
From what we have learned so far, asset discovery and tracking can provide a critical edge for your business. This is the process of making your entire IT team more efficient by deploying industry-leading practices that lead to efficiency and rule-based management on an organizational scale. And it is not completely unrealistic to get all these features and benefits with one platform.
To know more about what you can achieve as a company by deploying the right IT asset management practices, visit the Motadata website. Motadata ServiceOps offers an IT asset management platform integrated with its Network Monitoring and Service Desk solutions so your organization can get full visibility into the health of your IT infrastructure.