What is ITAM? A Complete Guide to IT Asset Management

What is IT Asset Management?

What is ITAM?

Today’s businesses have an evolving inventory of IT assets, which are hardware (devices such as laptops, tablets, mobile phones, and beyond), software (the programs that run on these devices), licenses, support contracts/service level agreements (SLAs), data management systems, and more. These assets aren’t just expensive business investments, they’re also mission-critical for driving business growth and supporting people’s productivity.

IT asset management (ITAM) empowers IT teams to manage the full lifecycle of a company’s IT assets, with the goal of achieving a higher return on investment (ROI) and security posture for the business.

How important is ITAM for IT?

In today’s digital age, where a growing number of IT assets are mission-critical to supporting work (whether hybrid, remote, or in-office) and where investments in IT assets are so prominent on every business’s balance sheet, ITAM has never been more important. IT asset management solutions offer organizations full visibility into not just their hardware and software inventory, but how assets are being used, supported, protected, and more. It also helps them optimally manage those vital assets.

At a time when cyberthreats are growing in volume and sophistication, ITAM tools also help organizations protect themselves (and their data), enabling them to both avoid and respond effectively to cyberattacks.

Why does IT asset management matter?

If you don’t properly maintain, upgrade, manage, and optimize your expensive IT assets, you’re tossing money out the window.

ITAM has a significant role in modern business operations because it gives you visibility and control, allowing you to dynamically manage and get the most value from each asset. ITAM drives cost and operational efficiency by extending the workable life of IT assets and helping organizations understand what assets are approaching their end-of-life and need to be replaced.

Who needs IT asset management software?

Every organization that has IT assets to manage and protect can benefit from IT asset management software. Businesses and IT teams of all sizes gain value from having the capacity to track and manage assets, including hardware, software, and servers throughout their lifecycle, as well as:

  • Connecting IT assets to specific users for compliance/accountability purposes
  • Associating assets with online devices
  • Correlating assets with support tickets, allowing for a single unified view of devices, software, and users

What problems/challenges does ITAM help organizations solve?

IT asset management helps solve several mission-critical IT challenges:

  1. Increasing costs amidst accelerating IT change
    Today, cost pressures and the increasing pace of digital transformation impact all businesses of all sizes. It’s a challenge to know what technology you need, but a lot of organizations are moving so fast on technology procurement that they don’t even know what IT assets they actually have. This can be a nightmare for strategic planning and cost control.
  2. Making sense of a complex IT infrastructure
    Related to the above, today’s IT professionals must support a growing and dizzying array of hardware, software, and servers. They already have multiple systems and tools, and (alas) are likely not optimizing what they’ve already paid for. Going out and buying more assets is not the answer, while better managing what they already have is (and asset optimization is more cost-efficient to boot).
  3. Meeting security and compliance standards
    In order to drive effective IT compliance and security, you need access to vulnerability data and data around software licenses, contracts, and more. Without that data, you can’t even know if you’re secure and compliant – that’s a disaster waiting to happen. IT professionals simply must maintain, and be ready to report upon, their database of IT assets. ITAM software automates reporting and eases compliance. It also makes quick, effective investigations of cyberattacks possible.

Manage inventory efficiently with GoTo Resolve

Streamline asset tracking, optimize resource allocation, and enhance security with GoTo Resolve’s IT asset management solution.

  • Ensure Accurate Inventory Audits
  • Simplify Budgeting & Forecasting
  • Simplify Asset Lifecycle Management
  • Streamline Onboarding & Offboarding
  • See Faster Incident Management

What are the benefits of IT asset management?

ITAM offers many benefits, including:

  1. Easier to manage assets via a centralized asset database
    Assets can be extremely difficult to track and manage when they’re listed in different places and/or outdated spreadsheets. A decentralized tracking system creates disorganization and inaccuracy, causing inefficiency and poor business decision-making. Having a single source of truth, on the other hand, allows organizations full visibility into what assets they own and which ones need to be decommissioned, upgraded or optimized.
  2. Maximizes cost savings and efficiency
    ITAM supports the efficient use of costly IT assets, mitigates IT risk, minimizes waste, and reduces cost with real-time and actionable data on the current status of the asset inventory that enables informed decision-making.
    Leaders can see the state of their IT assets with visibility into the full lifecycle of each asset. When an asset is no longer being used or is breaking down, it can be discarded or replaced in a timely, cost-efficient manner.
  3. Easier to onboard and offboard employees
    ITAM allows organizations to track and manage the IT assets of all employees, whether entering or exiting your organization, so you can ensure new hires have the right IT assets they need to hit the ground running and the IT assets of leavers are secured and made available for others to use.
  4. Helps ensure software licensing compliance
    Businesses that license third-party software must comply with the license terms and conditions. Indeed, software providers will sometimes come in and audit a business’s use of its software to ensure compliance. Failing to comply with licenses and agreements can lead to hefty fines or worse.
    ITAM automatically monitors all software installed on all computers, prepares reports, and helps ensure your IT assets comply with all relevant license agreements.
  5. Supports informed decision-making
    Data provided by ITAM helps businesses with the evaluation of previous software/hardware purchases and deployments, which in turn helps inform a better, more data-informed procurement process in the present and future. ITAM provides key data for budgeting and forecasting purposes. This includes upcoming end-of-life assets, potential replacement costs, as well as updated data on warranties so that your business can avoid unnecessary repair charges or fines for breaching service level agreements (SLAs).
  6. Protects your business and users from cybersecurity threats
    Combining IT asset management with cybersecurity is crucial for protecting your assets from cyberthreats. This combination of ITAM and cybersecurity strengthens vulnerability management and optimizes incident response, equipping businesses to face evolving cyberthreats and other security challenges.
    ITAM gives you visibility into your IT infrastructure, which helps you to detect cyberthreats when and where they arise, investigate the cyberthreat’s source and impact on your network, and do something to address those cyberthreats.

What are the core components of IT asset management?

Some of the essential components of ITAM include:

  • Automated asset discovery: ITAM automatically detects all hardware and software installed on an organization’s network.
  • Inventory management: ITAM keeps a record of all assets used by an organization. The inventory includes asset data such as name, type of license agreement, and version.
  • License management: ITAM stores asset licenses. The organization then gets automatically alerted if it’s under-licensed and at risk of breaching a license agreement or over-licensed (i.e., acquiring software it underuses or never uses). ITAM also tracks the expiration dates of license agreements and alerts the organization prior to the relevant expiration date. In terms of compliance, the benefit is obvious.
  • Patch and version management: ITAM tracks the deployment of new software patches and versions in order to keep all computers secure, updated, and running efficiently.

What’s the connection between ITAM and cybersecurity?

ITAM is an important aspect of a strong cybersecurity posture. IT asset management gives you full visibility into what devices are connecting with your system, how they’re connecting, how long they stay connected, what they do, and more.

When cyberthreats happen and your system does get breached, ITAM provides you with relevant, timely data that you can use to investigate and mitigate threats. Without ITAM, you could be “flying blind” into a storm of cyberattacks.

With the visibility ITAM provides, you can:

  1. Detect cyberthreats when and where the arise
  2. Investigate the cyberthreat’s source and impact on your network
  3. Do something to address those cyberthreats
A group of people discussing the benefits of IT asset management and what ITAM offers.

How can my organization get started with ITAM?

Consider your specific needs related to managing your IT assets. You should take an inventory of the technologies and vendors you already work with to manage your IT assets. This self-assessment will help you determine your approach when transitioning to a more comprehensive IT asset management tool. 

Once you’ve determined what you have in place for asset management, gather information/research so you can better understand what improvements are possible. See our list of resources below.  

Here are some good questions to ask:

  • How are best-in-class businesses doing their IT asset management?
  • How can we prioritize each of our goals to drive improvement in what we do?
  • What should we expect from any ITAM solution and/or vendor?

What tools or features do a typical ITAM system offer?

Well, not all ITAM solutions are exactly the same, but here are 7 tools/features you’d want from any of them:

  • Manual entry of assets: Enables you to add any kind of IT hardware assets manually and start building your database.
  • Bulk import of asset items: For easy onboarding and migration of data from other sources (via a downloadable template).
  • Inventory list: A single view of your asset database displaying all relevant information.
  • Asset detail view: Enables you to access the profile of a selected item and all the detailed information linked to that item.
  • Asset actions: Allows you to perform basic asset management jobs per item either from the inventory list, the detail view, or during manual entry.
  • Custom categories: Fields or labels that allow you to adjust information/data to your companies’ specific needs/ways of working.
  • Search capability: Enables you to find the IT asset or information you need within your database.

What are some best practices for implementing ITAM?

Best practices for implementing ITAM are constantly evolving and should be adapted to your needs, but here are a selected collection of best practices to follow when you want to implement ITAM:

Define clear objectives and scope

Start by detailing the exact goals of your ITAM program. Define exactly what IT assets you’ll manage, what data you need to collect, and what outcomes you expect to drive in the realm of asset management (i.e., your KPIs/metrics for success). ITAM will help you get there, but you need to begin with a destination in mind.

Gain leadership support

Gain support and budget from senior management and secure a sponsor for your ITAM effort. This ensures that ITAM is treated as a strategic priority and won’t get bogged down in mid-implementation.

Establish a cross-functional team

Create a team with relevant members from IT, procurement, finance, and other involved departments. This cross-functional team will ensure a comprehensive approach to ITAM implementation.

Create and document policies and procedures

Develop clear ITAM policies and procedures that define how IT assets are acquired, tracked, and disposed of, while ensuring that these policies align with your organization's goals and regulatory requirements.

Conduct ongoing inventory management

Create a comprehensive inventory of all your IT assets, including hardware, software, licenses, and associated data. Use automated tools for asset discovery where possible.

Ensure data accuracy and quality

Do everything you can to ensure that the data collected about assets is accurate, up-to-date, and complete. Validate this data regularly to eliminate potential inaccuracies.

Classify and categorize assets

Classify your IT assets based on their importance, ownership, and other relevant factors. This helps in prioritizing management efforts and making informed decisions.

Build asset lifecycle management capabilities

Develop processes for the entire asset lifecycle, from procurement to updating to disposal. This includes tracking warranty and support contracts.

Automate tools and technology

Invest in ITAM software and tools that can automate and optimize the entire workflow of asset discovery, asset-related data collection, and asset-related reporting. Once you get your automation set up, the amount of manual work and manually driven inaccuracies will drop dramatically. That’s what ITAM is about – driving efficiency.

Resources to learn more about ITAM

If you’ve read this far, you already know more about IT asset management than many IT professionals. Here’s some resources for learning even more:

  • International Association of IT Asset Managers (IAITAM): One of the most recognized organizations in the field, IAITAM offers certifications, training, and events to help IT professionals stay up to date with ITAM best practices.
    • IAITAM's local chapters and user groups: Many local chapters and user groups affiliated with IAITAM exist and can provide excellent opportunities for sharing knowledge with other ITAM professionals.
  • ITAM Review: An online resource providing news, articles, and reviews related to IT asset management.
  • Software asset management (SAM) organizations: depending on your focus, SAM organizations like the International Business Software Managers Association (IBSMA) or the Business Software Alliance (BSA) can provide valuable resources and insights.
  • Vendor-specific resources: Many IT solution providers, including GoTo, have their own resources related to asset management for their products. These can be valuable if you are considering specific vendors and their offerings around ITAM.

Get started with GoTo Resolve's ITAM

If you’re still using Excel spreadsheets and/or other passive ledgers to manage your IT assets, you are missing out on robust data and proactive management. ITAM provides better management and optimization, more cost-cutting opportunities, and clear visibility into your IT infrastructure.

For best-in-class IT asset management software, check out GoTo Resolve. It not only provides you with a consistent and reliable view of every employee-owned and company-owned device asset, but also includes remote support, remote monitoring and management, integrated ticketing, and much more – all within a single platform.

Learn More

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