Here’s a scenario: Hearing of the growing importance of security, the fictional ACME Corporation invests millions in acquiring and installing Electric Eyes. Each eye requires two full-time employees for operation, and they pull excessive amounts of electricity, dramatically increasing Acme’s utilities bills. Through the years, Acme suffers all sorts of thefts, physical and digital, but the business continues to maintain the Electric Eyes, believing the attacks would be much worse without them. Plus, Acme has the resources to support the Electric Eyes, so what’s the harm?

You might be shouting “The Electric Eyes aren’t working! Acme should get rid of them!” However, that assumption is just as unfounded as Acme’s theory that the Eyes are improving security. What Acme needs — and what all businesses need — is IT asset management.

What Is IT Asset Management?

To put it not-so-briefly, IT asset management is a strategic business process that combines financial, contractual, and inventory functions to facilitate lifecycle management, help business make IT decisions, and to enhance the collection, use, and communication of information. IT assets comprise all hardware and software elements in the business environment, to include physical assets like desktop computers, smartphones, servers, and IoT devices as well as applications, cloud storage, and more. The proper management of these assets ensures efficiency and effectiveness in the IT environment, which reduces costs, improves performance, and generally boosts a business overall.

When first understanding IT asset management, it is important to comprehend the lifecycle of an asset:

  • Identify need

If there is no need for a new asset, you shouldn’t waste resources acquiring one.

  • Plan

You should research your need to determine what type of asset will address it.

  • Design

You should survey your options and determine the specifications of your desired asset.

  • Procure/build

If you have a full, in-house IT team capable of building your new IT asset, you should take advantage of it. However, procurement is more typical.

  • Commission

Your new asset should be properly installed to confirm it provides the necessary features.

  • Operate, maintain, and monitor performance

This should occur almost continuously as the asset is in use.

  • Modify/upgrade

If it is possible to enrich the asset — and if it is commercially sensible — then you should do so.

  • Decommission

Replacing or disposing of an obsolete asset is an essential step in an asset’s lifecycle, but it should only occur after the asset is determined to provide no or negative value.

The longest phase in an asset’s lifecycle is operation, maintenance, and monitoring. However, that doesn’t mean that smart asset management doesn’t occur during the other phases. Failure to properly manage your assets in any phase will result in inefficiency, which could topple your business. Thus, you need to institute smart asset management strategies throughout the lifecycles of all IT assets.

What Are Smart Asset Management Strategies?

Data is the beginning and end of all asset management plans. The more information you have about your business needs, your current IT environment, and available IT solutions, the more effectively you can make decisions throughout an asset’s lifecycle. Specifically, you should engage in:

  • Collecting information about your current assets

You should perform an audit of your IT inventory to understand which assets are in use. Accounting records might be valuable in identifying your assets.

  • Evaluating how assets are addressing business goals

If a primary business goal is simplicity, then dozens of programs might be better replaced with one. You can use software asset management to determine this.

  • Studying potential acquisitions

Being aware of potential solutions is helpful when a need arises. However, you must show restraint and acquire only those assets deemed necessary.

  • Plan for operations and maintenance

You should understand the costs associated with using and supporting your IT assets. If costs exceed value, you should be willing and able to find replacements.

Still, if you try to know everything about IT assets, you’ll never have time to run your business. As soon as you have enough evidence that an asset is worthwhile or without value, you must act. In IT asset management — as in all aspects of business — time is money.

ACME Corp. identified a need in their business IT environment — lack of security — but that’s where its IT asset management stopped. Instead of researching possible solutions, considering business goals, and monitoring asset performance, ACME assumed its assets were beneficial. You can avoid the same mistake today by developing an IT asset management strategy and applying it to your business.