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What is IT asset management (ITAM)?

IT asset management (ITAM) refers to the practices an organization follows to track and optimize IT assets throughout its lifecycle. Those IT assets include hardware (e.g., computers, printers, and tangible tech components) and software (e.g., cloud applications, SaaS, operating systems, and other intangibles). 

ITAM depends heavily on analyzing the financial, contractual, inventory, usage, and risk data from IT assets and then using that data to guide strategic decisions to maximize the value of those assets.

Long-term, effective ITAM should result in:

  • Budget improvements and cost reduction
  • Reduced governance risks
  • Improved compliance and education throughout an organization
  • More collaborative understanding between IT and other departments
  • Increased control of the entire IT environment 

An effective ITAM strategy is a key component to successful IT Management. 

What are key processes of IT asset management?

To achieve the results above, IT leaders and asset managers must proactively manage the IT asset lifecycle from procurement to retirement. Each organization will have its own way of doing this, but there are key processes that are considered best practices for ITAM, including but not limited to:

  • Asset discovery and identification: Each IT asset should be identified and curated in a centralized inventory with all other IT assets as much as possible, so anyone who needs access or visibility has it.
  • Spend optimization management: Leverage spend and usage data to audit contracts, recover wasted licenses, and maximize return on IT asset investments. 
  • Vendor management: Keep track of software contracts with third-party vendors and leverage IT asset data to eliminate surprise renewals, evaluate licensing needs based on usage, and navigate contract negotiations.  
  • Disposal management: At the end of the life cycle, when IT assets become outdated, organizations need a disposal strategy 

Why is IT asset management important? 

Imagine doing your job without the IT assets at your disposal. Chances are you can’t. 

IT assets are crucial components of any business, and so, as the CEO of the International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers (IAITAM)  puts it, “If you’re not managing your assets, you're not managing your business.”

As the digital transformation continues, tech stacks grow, and new business challenges arise, a strong yet agile ITAM strategy will keep application sprawl, spend, and security in check.  

ITAM is most effective when there’s a centralized inventory of all IT assets that acts as a single source of truth. However, achieving that is easier said than done. As department leaders and individual employees increasingly self-serve and adopt apps and assets on their own—otherwise known as shadow IT—asset managers lose visibility and control. You can’t manage what you can’t see. 

Read this article to learn more about shadow IT, how it challenges ITAM, and ways to illuminate hidden threats. 


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