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IT asset management (also known as ITAM) is the process of ensuring an organization’s assets are accounted for, deployed, maintained, upgraded, and disposed of when the time comes. Put simply, it’s making sure that the valuable items, tangible and intangible, in your organization are tracked and being used.  

An IT asset includes hardware, software systems, or information an organization values. In IT department, some of our most important assets are the computers and software licenses that help us build, sell, and support our software and the servers we host it on. 

IT assets have a finite period of use. To maximize the value an organization can generate from them, the IT asset lifecycle can be proactively managed. Each organization may define unique stages of that lifecycle, but they generally include planning, procurement, deployment, maintenance, and retirement.   An important part of IT asset management is applying process across all lifecycle stages to understand the total cost of ownership and optimize the use of assets.

These days asset management practice extends far beyond the hardware that’s issued with an official IT stamp of approval.  Subscription-based software and employees expectation to customize the tools they work with through marketplaces and app stores, present new asset management challenges. The way modern teams work requires that IT teams be flexible and adapt their asset management process to best enable the business. 

As various teams push to work with the tools that best fit their needs, asset management is an even more important part of an organization’s overall strategy and provides up-to-date information to reduce risks and costs. An asset management process creates a single source of truth when optimizing budgets, supporting lifecycle management, and making decisions that impact the entire organization. 

ITAM is a process that teams execute on a regular basis or as assets, goals, and tools change. 

  1. Inventory assets - The first step in the IT asset management process is to create a detailed inventory of all IT assets. Your inventory includes what assets you have, where they are located when they were purchased, and for how much.
  2. Calculate lifecycle costs - The second step is to calculate lifecycle costs for all assets in your inventory. During an average asset’s life, there are many opportunities for added costs, like maintenance, capital, and disposal costs. Calculating lifecycle costs makes your asset inventory accurate and actionable.
  3. Tracking - The third step is tracking via an asset management tool. Your goal is to continuously monitor IT assets through their lifecycle keeping a close eye on things like contract, license, and warranty expiration. Tracking also helps you stay ahead of the fourth step, maintenance. 
  4. Maintenance - Maintenance involves asset repair, upgrade, and replacement. All maintenance activities should be tracked in an ITAM tool so that the data can be used to understand the overall performance of the asset.
  5. Financial Planning - The fifth and final step is financial planning. With an accurate picture of your IT assets, their lifecycle stage, and their costs, you can effectively plan for the future. One goal of financial planning is to determine the budget needed to maintain or improve the “levels of service” your team provides for your most important assets. An asset that was successfully managed with a high level of service, like a service desk and dedicated team, will need that level of service going forward. Assets that underperformed may need a higher level of service in the future, which will cost more. 
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