IT asset management (ITAM): A centralized approach to managing IT systems and assets

IT asset management (ITAM): A centralized approach to managing IT systems and assets

Companies rely on a wide range of technology for day-to-day business. A strong ITAM strategy will help you oversee and optimize the full lifecycle of each individual piece.

IT asset management (ITAM) comprises practices and strategies for overseeing, managing and optimizing company-owned IT systems, hardware, processes and data. As part of an ITAM strategy, IT departments implement, track and maintain IT assets, and assess whether those IT assets require optimization, can be replaced with a less expensive option or be upgraded to a newer technology. Fostering these deeper insights into your organization’s IT assets helps IT executives visualize the ROI on IT assets and deliver data to other key stakeholders on how those assets directly benefit the company’s business goals.

A successful ITAM strategy requires a complete IT inventory that gives organizations a quick view of every IT asset within the company. That includes data centers, software, hardware, networks, employee or user workstations and any other business technology. The main goals of ITAM are to save money through asset tracking, have more control over the company’s IT environment, bring more organization to IT lifecycle management and reduce waste by managing the disposal of IT assets.

ITAM fundamentals and key process areas

Companies have long tried to create centralized systems to manage IT assets, which include not only hardware, software, networks and services, but also employee and customer data. While it’s not feasible to have that level of control over your IT environment, proper ITAM can help your organization get close to that ideal and stay on top of IT investments by making it simpler to manage technology budgets, user data, analytics reports and any relevant information about the company’s IT assets.

The International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers (IAITAM) is the only organization that offers documentation on ITAM to help guide organizations through the process of asset management. The IAITAM defines  12 key process areas (KPAs) for ITAM in its IAITAM Best Practice Library (IBPL), including:

  • Program process: By centralizing IT asset management throughout all phases of the lifecycle, organizations can develop an ongoing program designed to continually support all relevant IT activity in the organization.
  • Program management: ITAM programs should be well organized and should adhere to the IAITAM Best Practice BluePrint, which helps guide organizations through the process of establishing an ITAM strategy.
  • Policy management: All policies must be defined, established, and enforced in the ITAM initiative as well as for the IT assets themselves. These policies need to be clear and easily understood by employees and all key stakeholders.
  • Communication and education management: A cultural environment that supports ongoing education, awareness and training surrounding ITAM policies is essential. This also helps organizations plan the necessary change management that will need to take place throughout the company.
  • Project management: ITAM requires strong project management to ensure initiatives are organized, efficient and effective. Project management also helps organizations pull together the necessary resources to deploy and maintain IT assets.
  • Documentation management: IT asset-related documentation must be organized and maintained for the entire life cycle of the IT asset. This includes proof of purchases, software licenses, certificates of authenticity and any other relevant documentation.
  • Financial management: Financial IT asset management is the “backbone to savings within your ITAM program from budgeting to invoice reconciliation,” according to the IAITAM. It’s important to stay focused on budgeting, fixed asset reconciliation, chargeback, invoice reconciliation, forecasting, financial audit preparation and billing if you want your ITAM strategy to be successful.
  • Compliance and legislation: ITAM strategies should be risk avoidant and organizations should always be prepared for a potential audit. This process area helps prepare your organization to meet compliance regulations and establishes a mindset for fixing non-compliance issues as well.
  • Vendor management: Staying on top of third-party vendors is an essential part of ITAM. You should establish a “documented communication protocol” and build a “library of interactions,” according to the IAITAM.
  • Acquisition management: Organizations should gather requirements for IT assets before they’re acquired or deployed. At this stage, you want to have a clear understanding of all relevant policies, standards and life-cycle processes for your IT assets.
  • Asset identification: Each individual IT asset must be identified and located and placed in an asset management system that makes it easy to quickly find any and all IT assets so they can be called up as needed.
  • Disposal management: At some point, most IT assets will become redundant, outdated or broken and your organization will need a strategy for how to dispose of these discarded assets. You’ll need to consider backups, relocating software, managing data, information security and mitigating any risks associated with disposal.

IT asset management software

The goal of ITAM is to create a centralized location to oversee the organization’s entire inventory of IT assets, a difficult task that’s not fully feasible for most companies given the scope and size of most organization’s IT inventory. Third-party services, however, can help your organization get as close as possible to realizing centralized-IT asset control.

Popular ITAM software includes:

  • AssetCloud
  • Asset Panda
  • BMC Track-It
  • Cherwell
  • Device42
  • GoCodes Asset Management
  • Ivanti IT Asset Management Suite
  • LogMeIn Central
  • ManageEngine AssetExplorer
  • MMSoft Pulseway
  • ServiceNow
  • SolarWinds
  • SysAid

IT asset management certifications and training

In addition to best practices, the IAITAM offers a certification scheme for ITAM. Certification courses cover the “lifecycle of IT hardware assets beyond the scope of the cradle to grave analogy and discusses the business practices that can best be used to manage those assets efficiently and cost-effectively,” according to the IAITAM.

Courses cover topics such as policy management, vendor management, de-manufacturing, hardware asset management, planning and implementing change, measuring success, IT asset lifecycles and datacenter power consumption and green initiatives.

There are currently seven ITAM certifications available through the IAITAM:

  • Certified Asset Management Professional (CAMP)
  • Certified Software Asset Manager (CSAM)
  • Certified Hardware Asset Management Professional (CHAMP)
  • Certified Mobile Asset Manager (CMAM)
  • Certification in IT Asset Disposition (CITAD)
  • Certified Asset Management Security Expert (CAMSE)
  • Certified IT Asset Manager (CITAM)

IT asset management jobs and salaries

IT asset management requires trained and knowledgeable staff who can understand the complexities of a modern IT environment. ITAM jobs require a wide range of skills, including IT security, analytical thinking, problem solving, project and inventory management skills, IT hardware and software knowledge, critical thinking, strong verbal communication and industry-specific IT knowledge. You’ll need to have a broad understanding of IT systems, hardware, software, networks and services given that IT assets can include anything from employee hardware, to cloud services hosting sensitive customer data, to the organization’s complex system of networks.

IT asset managers earn an average salary of $76,000 per year, according to data from Glassdoor. Respondents also report an average additional cash compensation of $14,000 per year.

Related job titles and their respective annual salaries include:

  • IT administrator: $61,000 per year
  • Asset management analyst: $69,000 per year
  • IT coordinator: $56,000 per year

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