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10 tips on how to win the IT asset management challenge

By Brian Hollandsworth, product manager, ServiceNow, special to Network World
December 12, 2012 01:37 PM ET

Network World - This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

Companies have a lot to gain by maintaining control of IT assets. They can avoid massive unplanned expenses, increase productivity and provide easy access to information for decision making. When designing an IT asset management (ITAM) program, keep these tips in mind:

1. Someone has to be responsible. Every successful project starts with people, then process, then technology. Since ITAM touches every part of your business, you must have a leader who has executive sponsorship and the support of all stakeholders who knows how to bring people, process and technology together into a working solution.

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2. Circle of life. Like most things in life, assets follow a lifecycle: plan, procure, deploy, manage and retire. Plan what types of assets you need to support your business, negotiate contracts with vendors to provide these assets, make the assets available for use, track where they go and log any activity that happens while in use, and finally retire them when they are no longer needed. Best practice publications available from the International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers (IAITAM) provide a wealth of information on lifecycles and more.

3. One source of truth. Having spreadsheets scattered around various computers, network drives and SharePoint is not an effective way to do companywide asset management. To be successful, it is important to agree on a common asset repository to be your organization's one source of truth. Ideally, this repository is linked to a service management system capable of tracking assets throughout their lifecycle to keep records current.

4. Visibility through metrics and reporting. You can't manage what you can't measure and you can't measure what you can't see. When selecting a tool for your ITAM program, confirm it can collect the metrics you need to measure the performance of your processes. Furthermore, verify you can get the information out of the system easily into dashboards anyone can configure. This is the best way to ensure you have accurate information when making strategic decisions. [Also see: "You can't manage what you can't see: gaining visibility"]

5. Automation is your friend. You get what you pay for if you're using a clipboard and a spreadsheet to do IT asset management. Apply modern technology to automate these manual, error-prone processes. Do like the parcel delivery companies do and use RFID and barcodes to update your asset repository in real-time. In addition to manual inventory checks, you should use automated discovery tools to crawl your network to find and track assets. Finally, manage your assets using workflows to update related records whenever something happens.

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