Key Features of IT Asset Management Systems

May, 2009

IT managers continually require exact information on the location, configuration, and identity of computer hardware and software. They also need access to contracts, budgets, documentation, training materials, and warranties associated with assets to properly manage them through their life cycle. Keeping up with the myriad records on IT assets can be a time-consuming and error-prone process without suitable tools to assist the effort.

IT asset management (ITAM) systems aim to reduce the labor required to satisfy these requirements while increasing the reliability and completeness of this information. The rationale for investing in ITAM systems includes cost reductions through improved purchasing, better utilization of assets, reigning in of maintenance contract and software licensing costs, and better management of the overall asset life cycle. Asset management systems can also reduce risks associated with regulatory compliance, software licensing, and security vulnerabilities. For organizations adopting IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best practices, deploying an asset management system coupled with a configuration management database system is often an essential first step in the process.

This Research Byte is a summary of our full report, Adoption of IT Asset Management Systems Reaching Maturity.

ITAM applications provide tools for managing the life cycle of assets, from recording purchase and installation histories, to maintaining inventories of hardware and software assets, to planning for the removal and disposal of assets. ITAM systems can be more than a repository for storing and reporting information. They can also automatically capture information on assets deployed in the environment, help manage configurations, and support monitoring of assets.

But having an accurate inventory of IT assets is not the end goal. Business value comes from fully exploiting those assets through better management. Figure 1 shows the key activities that IT managers must perform to fully realize value from an IT asset management program.

Asset Fig1 - Key Features of IT Asset Management Systems

The full version of this report provides an overview of ITAM economics. We review the key activities supported by ITAM systems and key features found in leading vendor solutions. We then assess adoption trends, return on investment (ROI) experience, and total cost of ownership (TCO) experience of organizations in our annual IT technology trends survey. The data is assessed for the composite sample of 200 organizations and by organization size and sector. We conclude with our recommendations on requirements that ITAM systems should meet.

Properly applied, ITAM is usually cost-effective. Knowing precisely what equipment is owned and the current status of each item is essential. Because ITAM tracks all such components, it makes the retrieval of documentation and training easy for all organizational assets. In addition, complete visibility of hardware and software ensures legal and licensing compliance. Finally, the same visibility also simplifies achieving standardization. These benefits of ITAM, coupled with low risk and excellent economic performance, make the technology a wise choice for most companies.

This Research Byte is a brief overview of our report on this subject, Adoption of IT Asset Management Reaching Maturity. The full report is available at no charge for Computer Economics clients, or it may be purchased by non-clients directly from our website. (Click for pricing.)