Exploring IT Asset Management: Your Ticket to Budgeting Bliss

Exploring IT Asset Management: Your Ticket to Budgeting Bliss

You’re budgeting for IT needs for the coming year. At least, you’re trying. Questions are piling up and you’re starting to feel overwhelmed. How many computers need replacing? What about that old server? Who has the list of 365 licenses, and what do they cost again?

Take a breath. You can do this – and you don’t have to go it alone; we have the perfect budgeting strategy for you: IT asset management.

Granted, it’s not the most exciting term, but be assured, IT asset management – or “ITAM” for short – is going to make your life a whole lot easier. Let’s talk about how.

What Is ITAM?

A mouthful! *Ba Dum Tss*

Jokes aside, ITAM is actually a simple concept; it’s a budgeting strategy that makes it easy to keep track and take care of all your IT equipment and software.

Father Time is undefeated, and every asset has a lifecycle. Computers start to slow, phones start holding less battery, and software licenses eventually expire. ITAM helps you stay ahead of these issues with a concrete and easy-to-implement plan of action. We can conveniently break up ITAM into multiple stages.

Stages of an ITAM Lifecycle

ITAM has five stages: Planning, Acquisition, Deployment, Monitoring & Maintenance, and finally, Disposal.

These are rolling stages, meaning each asset at any given time will be at one of these stages. For example, you might have two brand-new computers ready for the Deployment stage, set to replace two old computers at the Disposal stage, and a 2.5-year-old server halfway through its Monitoring and Maintenance stage.

Keeping an accurate record is vital for an effective ITAM strategy. This brings us right into our first stage…

Planning

The first stage of ITAM is recording your assets on your platform of choice – this can be something as simple as an Excel spreadsheet or a digital asset register. Record the replacement date for each asset. Business-grade systems typically last between three and five years, servers about five years, while software longevity varies based on subscription models and budgeting for replacements.

Recording assets should be done alongside your IT team or managed service provider (MSP), as they can make sure you’re crossing your Ts and dotting your Is.

Acquisition

Naturally, there will be times when you need to purchase new assets. Ideally, you have a trusted IT team or MSP whose job is to locate these items and, with your approval, order them.

Upon receiving any new assets, update your records immediately, noting important information such as description, serial number, location, costs and any other important metrics. Err on the side of including too many details, as ignoring irrelevant information is a lot easier than tracking down lost information.

In addition, make sure to double-check every ordered system. For instance, if you have five new computers coming in, make sure there are indeed five machines (shipping mistakes happen!). Also, you’ll want to confirm that the new systems meet your specifications and are ready for the next stage…

Deployment

Before your assets reach their intended locations, they’ll need some prep work. This is especially true for computers and servers. Your IT staff or IT provider will need to configure these assets to your company’s standards before organizing a time to have them delivered and installed. If your asset is a piece of software, this process will usually involve simply applying a new license. Easy-peasy.

Once your new assets are in place, update your asset inventory sheet to reflect the new additions. This step usually coincides with the retirement/disposal stage (which we’ll get to shortly), as new assets are typically purchased to replace old ones.

Monitoring & Maintenance

You’ve determined when your IT assets should be retired, and it’s in your best interest to prevent that date from creeping up. It’ll be up to your IT team or MSP to make sure your computers, servers, and other systems make it to a ‘healthy retirement age.’

The monitoring and maintenance stage encompasses the numerous activities that nurture your assets’ longevity, many of which fall under endpoint management. The longest and most involved stage (it spans multiple years between deployment and retirement), monitoring and maintenance is like regular maintenance for a car, where proactive care and timely servicing keep everything running smoothly and prevent unexpected breakdowns.

Disposal

Everything must come to an end, and your assets are no different. Hardware obsolescence, software expiration, physical damage – whatever the cause of the end-of-life scenario, it’s important that you organize the timely removal of assets no longer fit for use.

If you take the planning stage seriously and maintain an up-to-date record, you’ll know in advance when it’s time to remove old assets and will be able to plan accordingly.

That said, disposal isn’t quite as simple as throwing your computer in the garbage. You’ll want to make sure that important data is wiped clean and recycled properly. Also, upon properly disposing of an old asset, don’t forget to update those records!

Once again, it should be up to your in-house IT staff or IT provider/MSP to ensure the proper disposal of retired IT assets.

The Big Benefits of a Robust ITAM Strategy

Having a robust ITAM strategy can work wonders for your business. Let’s review some of the key benefits.

Avoid Unnecessary Expenses

When someone approaches you about replacing a computer, you’ll know exactly where that asset stands in its lifecycle. Instead of estimating its remaining lifespan, you can rely on your detailed digital asset register. And, unless there’s a very good reason not to (e.g., unforeseen severe hardware/software failure), follow your ITAM plan. Not having to make case-by-case decisions about new purchases will save you a lot of time and save you from a lot of unnecessary stress and expenses.

Reduce Downtime

Replacing an asset takes time, and you don’t want there to be any delay between one asset’s retirement and its replacement’s deployment. Lucky for you, with an ITAM strategy, you won’t have to; your IT team can schedule a new asset’s acquisition and installation to avoid costly downtime. Moreover, if your IT team did their job and carried out the necessary prep work, most assets will be simple plug-and-play installations.

Pro Tip – Is one of your company computers ready for retirement? Schedule its replacement when its user isn’t in the office. Does a server need replacing? Schedule its replacement outside of regular business hours.

Reduce Risk

ITAM reduces risk by maintaining a complete inventory of IT assets, preventing unauthorized access and security breaches. Regular monitoring identifies vulnerabilities early, allowing prompt updates to enhance security. Efficient lifecycle management means outdated assets get swapped out fast, which helps minimize downtime and operational risks. In the end, ITAM’s methodical approach not only tightens security but also amps up operational efficiency, keeping IT risks at bay.

Compliance Assistance

Not only does ITAM cut the fat out of your budget, but it also assists with regulatory compliance. Almost every aspect of ITAM contributes to the satisfaction of compliance regulations. Between its detailed records, endpoint management, and secure data disposal, ITAM truly is a game-changer when it comes to keeping up with your regulatory responsibilities.

Overlooked Aspects of Your ITAM

Even with a detailed ITAM plan, things can slip through the cracks. Let’s take a look at some assets you may not initially consider while crafting your IT asset management strategy.

Office 365 Licenses

It’s common for organizations to have dozens, if not hundreds, of different Office 365 licenses. Each license should be recorded in your ITAM as these assets add up significantly and can throw your budgeting efforts for a loop if not carefully managed. Note each license’s start date and renewal date, and make sure to update your records regularly as these licenses can change frequently.

Firewall Licenses

Firewall licenses usually last from one to three years and can be easily forgotten. It’s crucial to register and track the license type and expiration date to ensure timely renewal. Doing so helps your IT team or MSP efficiently locate and renew the necessary licenses when needed.

Training

This aspect of ITAM is somewhat unique. Though not an asset per se, training is just as important as any piece of hardware or software. At the end of the day, you want your employees to utilize your assets to their fullest, while engaging in cyber-safe behavior to mitigate the risk of a data breach. Training promotes both of these things.

Make sure to note the time expected to train your employees on any new assets, and budget accordingly. Too many executives, when budgeting for IT, forget about training because it’s not a tangible thing. But you’d better believe the negative impacts of neglecting training – or failing to budget for it – will be all too tangible.

Cybersecurity training is particularly vital for your company’s health – and perhaps even for its very existence, as a cyberattack can force you to close your doors permanently. Check out our article on cybersecurity training to learn more.

Tackling ITAM

ITAM takes time, effort, and serious attention to detail. That’s why, again, it’s best to enlist experienced IT experts or an MSP to help you build a robust and actionable ITAM strategy.

As you work with your IT team, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Also, don’t let a few hiccups discourage you. Forget an asset? It happens. The key, as with many things in this life, is to keep at it.

Need Help?

If you’re looking an IT team to help out with ITAM, look no further than The 20 MSP. We have years of experience helping all kinds of businesses plan out their IT budgets and asset lifecycles.

Reach out today and let’s get started!