What is IT Asset Management (ITAM)?
IT Asset Management (ITAM) is a practice that can help organizations maximize hardware and software investments and minimize risk.
ITAM typically involves creating a detailed inventory of the company’s hardware, software and network assets. IT decision-makers can then use the data collected to make more informed decisions around IT purchasing and management.
For businesses looking to improve their asset management strategy, ITAM tools are an important addition to the company toolbox. These applications help your organization keep track of and get the most out of your IT assets. Used correctly, the right tool — or combination of tools — can also save you incalculable time and money.
However, with upfront costs averaging hundreds of thousands of dollars, ITAM tools are a sizable investment for any company. And, “through 2020, only 25% of enterprises will be satisfied that their SAM tool purchases align well with pre-purchase expectations of value,” according to Gartner.
To avoid a bad investment, IT decision-makers must ensure they’re choosing the right tools for their organization’s specific asset management needs. Let’s explore five things to keep in mind when evaluating ITAM tools.
1. Defining your IT Asset Management Software requirements.
Choosing an IT Asset Management Software tool is understanding the specific needs of your organization.
During this discovery phase, source information from across the company. Today, technology plays a vital role in almost every area of business, and you’ll likely find each department has its own challenges.
In fact, you may be surprised by how many departments will be impacted by the implementation of an ITAM tool. The one thing you don't want to do is invest in an expensive IT Asset Management software solution, only to find that after it’s been deployed, it doesn't fulfill the organization’s needs.
2. Investing the right solution for your IT Asset Management challenges.
Once you’ve assessed and compiled your organization’s requirements, it’s time to figure out what type of management tool will address those needs. According to the ITAM Review, modern ITAM tools can be categorized into six broad capabilities:
- Visibility: Identify the assets you have.
- Identification: Make sure your list of current assets is correct.
- Risk: Prioritize management of the riskiest assets.
- Efficiency: Do more with the resources you have by ensuring efficient spending.
- Continual service improvement: Evolve your SAM strategy.
- Agility: Improve asset management decisions to empower future IT transformation.
3. Avoid the elusive “silver bullet” IT Asset Management tool.
In your search for the right asset management software, you may come across a developer who claims to have an all-in-one solution. It might appear this tool can solve any challenges you have and be considered the "best" ITAM software.
Take note: This so-called “silver bullet” tool most likely doesn’t exist.
It’s tempting to go for the new, shiny solution that promises to do it all. But beware. You may end up buying an expensive application and only using a portion of its functionality. Or worse, you may acquire one that actually solves only some of your organization’s challenges, leaving you with gaps in your asset management capabilities.
It is possible for a single asset management tool to have more than one of the capabilities listed above. But keep in mind if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. This is certainly the case with ITAM solutions.
4. Put the right people in place.
There’s a common misconception among businesses that good asset management software will solve all their problems. The truth is that, although constantly evolving, few, if any, ITAM tools can fully automate every aspect of your asset management environment.
These aren’t appliances to be plugged in — they’re platforms to be managed. And a truly successful asset management strategy is only realized through a combination of technology, processes and people.
For instance, although a SAM solution can help you learn more about your current software usage, no application will fully automate the process of calculating an optimized licensing position. You need people who can interpret the information about what’s being used, compare it to what’s needed and make recommendations about future purchasing.
An employee with limited SAM skills may be able to manage discovery-type software. However, navigating the intricacies of Microsoft or Oracle licensing, for example, requires someone with extensive knowledge of that environment. Managing advanced SAM tools without the proper skills can be a recipe for disaster.
When choosing a new ITAM tool, it's important not just to select the solution that best meets your business and technical requirements, but also to make sure you have the right team in place to manage it.
5. Look toward the future.
As previously mentioned, ITAM tools are an investment. Make sure your investment generates a return for years to come. Look at the future goals of your organization and choose a solution that will grow and scale with those projected changes.
It’s imperative to pick an IT asset management tool that will solve today's problems, but it's equally important to select something that will address tomorrow's challenges as well.