What is IT Asset Management (ITAM)?
Understanding your IT environment requires you to know the deployed hardware and software in your org, and how they're working together. This article will teach you what IT asset management (ITAM) is, and how ITAM can help your organization.
What is IT Asset Management? Defining ITAM
Think of your organization as a pizza. There are thousands of different combinations you could use for toppings, seasonings, and dressings. Those elements are your assets – your hardware and software, from your organizational infrastructure to your end users. No matter what your toppings are, however, you need a crust to hold the toppings together and make the pizza complete. That’s where IT Asset Management comes in.
IT Asset Management, or ITAM for short, is a set of strategic practices and technologies. When applied, these practices and technologies enable organizations to more effectively manage their IT environment. Going by the pizza example above, imagine trying to enjoy your pizza with no way of keeping the toppings organized or together. It would be a messy, cumbersome meal that would be more frustrating than filling. ITAM is that organizational component – or crust – to help organizations manage software and hardware assets on an ongoing basis. By doing this, IT Asset Management enables organizations to establish controls, gain visibility into their environment, optimize costs, and maintain license compliance.
What does IT Asset Management encompass? From a company perspective, IT Asset Management reaches financial, inventory, contractual and risk management responsibilities, helping organizations manage the overall lifecycle of these assets. With all this, an organization can use ITAM for tactical and strategic decision making.
ITAM, Versatility and Verticals
As we consider ITAM’s usefulness, let’s revisit the pizza example from the previous section. Specifically, toppings and crust.
Your IT assets, from hardware to software, are your toppings. You might have some common assets – laptops, data center technology, monitors, communication software – that are like your common pizza toppings – pepperoni, onion, sausage – but you may have more unique needs too. Say you have applications specific to your organizational needs, or you have hardware unique to your particular industry (think something like healthcare), this would be like putting eggplant cutlets or waffles on a pizza. It’s distinct and unique to your organization’s needs.
Fortunately, ITAM can help keep track of those unique elements and ensure they’re not becoming siloed because they’re not a traditional asset. ITAM doesn’t just keep them together, it helps you understand how these assets are working together. With every industry and organization having their own needs and challenges, this versatility goes a long way in providing support.
That brings us to ITAM itself. We described ITAM as the “pizza crust that holds everything together” but it’s not secret that crusts come in many varieties. New York style, thin crust, pan, hand tossed, deep dish, the list goes on. You can trust us on that because we’re based in Chicago, the pizza capital of the country. You can also trust us when we say ITAM solutions, like those crusts, can adjust to suit your needs.
ITAM is versatile. It’s meant to fit the uniqueness of your organization and scale to the demands you have. Regardless of your vertical, there are benefits to having ITAM applied. We’ll continue to focus on the broader, more general applications ITAM has in this post, but you can check out some of our other blogs on industries to get specific, vertical-focused examples of ITAM solutions, or reach out to us if you have more questions.
IT Asset Management Solutions from CDW
Want to learn more about how CDW can help you get started with IT Asset Management solutions? Visit our ITAM Solutions page.
The Importance of IT Asset Management
Up until now, we’ve been using the pizza as an example for how ITAM holds everything together. This may make it sound like ITAM is simply a method of creating an asset inventory, but that’s underselling the value of ITAM solutions. ITAM is about more than creating an asset inventory; it is a persistent activity and strategic practice within your organization.
The IT industry is in a constant state of flux, whether it’s the external threat of constantly changing licensing rules, internally adding/losing employees, or something unanticipated and unexpected. Tracking your IT assets and creating a financial inventory using ITAM helps your company better understand what is going on in your IT infrastructure and the devoted budget to your IT assets. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that you truly cannot predict how sudden things can change. However, you can plan to be agile and adjust where needed when something does come up, provided you have an understanding of where everything stands presently. And, should you need to take action to course-correct on an issue or unforeseen error, the holistic understanding will empower you with the knowledge needed to remedy and move forward.
Many industries and verticals have some sort of regulatory compliance they need to align towards. This will vary, but whether you’re impacted by GDPR, or work in an industry with stringent regulations and compliance (HIPPA, CJIS, etc.), you must know and understand these regulations – and you’re maintaining compliance. This means having the information and understanding about what your IT environment looks like, and identifying areas where compliance may need to be addressed. After all, if you don’t know what you have in your environment, how will you stay compliant?
Common Barriers to IT Asset Management
The business value of ITAM is definable – companies will save money by remediating license issues, retiring unused assets, solving for areas of redundancy, and avoiding audits. While we see organizations time and time again throw money at software, hardware, and SaaS solutions to solve business problems, we don’t as often see them put effort into tracking and managing these assets. Why don’t more organizations implement an ITAM strategy?
Prioritization: ITAM may not be as flashy as Big Data, BYOD, DevOps, etc. and frequently falls to the bottom of the queue, especially when trying to gain executive buy-in. However, it can be hard to reap the benefits of these “hotter” initiatives without an ITAM practice in place. CDW can help you build a business case for ITAM.
Silo-ed Organization: We often see assets being managed in a decentralized fashion across an organization. This can look like separate groups or locations managing IT assets, and each of these groups could have their own budget, repository, and needs around ITAM. These groups need to be willing to give up some autonomy and financial control of the assets for the benefit of the entire organization and ITAM program. An ITAM program can solve for these silos, but needs that buy-in to succeed and unite the groups across a common goal.
Cross-functional Collaboration: ITAM is not an IT-only initiative, it needs multiple areas of the business to align on shared goals and objectives. At minimum, this can look like finance, procurement, and IT. Driving ITAM as an interdisciplinary practice ensures success.
ITAM is not one-size-fits-all: ITAM solutions need to match the requirements of an organization. When this doesn’t happen, you can see clashing around implementation, or lack of alignment with internal processes/stakeholders to support the initiative.
CDW’s ITAM practice offers a focused approach to tracking the location and configuration of IT assets, helping organizations not only optimize costs, but maintain license compliance, streamline contract negotiations, support mission-critical technology rollouts and prepare for digital transformation. Our proactive services are designed to meet customers where they are at in the ITAM journey to help organizations realize a dramatic ROI.