ITSM - IT Service Management / article

Intro to IT asset management

What is IT asset management?

IT asset management (also known as ITAM) is simply making sure that all the valuable items your company buys are both accounted for and being used. Basically, if your organization owns or leases it, you need to know where it is and whether it is being used, and make sure it is maintained properly. It asset management is an important part of overall strategy, and by providing up-to-date information helps reduce risks and costs of IT projects.

IT asset management is the process of ensuring an organization’s assets are accounted for, deployed, maintained, upgraded, and disposed of when the time comes.

We’re not talking about inventory on a store shelf. We’re talking about fixed assets, a company’s tangible assets that are used in business operations. Assets can be anything.

At British Airways, airplanes are assets. At Jamba Juice, blenders. At Atlassian, in our IT department, some of our most important assets are the computers, software licenses, and monitors and projectors that help us build, sell, and support our software and the servers we host it on.

When do you need an asset management solution?

Today’s IT organizations have a lot on their plates. Between seeing to system uptime, supporting users, and managing inventory of both hardware and software, to say it’s a challenge is putting it mildly. Some businesses decide to managetheir inventory in spreadsheets, or maybe with a lightweight database.

Spreadsheet solutions don’t typically allow shared, real-time access so that anyone can update or see the data. If you’re running a one-person development shop and just have one laptop, printer, and cell phone, you don't need asset management yet. A simple Confluence page will work just fine. But as you add employees and devices, the benefits of a proper asset management system quickly pay off.

Asset management tools are designed to alleviate the most common pains of day-to-day inventory tracking for rapidly-growing or well-established organizations with significant asset inventory and activity. While there are numerous, more complex challenges (like corporate governance, calculating depreciation, and even contract management and software license compliance), the most common signs that you need at least basic asset management include:

  • You're using spreadsheets–and they’ve become inaccurate or unwieldy: Spreadsheets are still one of the most the most common ways that companies start tracking what they own. Think they stay accurate very long? No way. In fact, Sage Accounting found that a $2 million company using spreadsheets to track their assets could be spending as much as $50,000 a year on “ghost assets,” or items that they are paying and accounting for in their general ledger but that are physically missing. Yikes.
  • You can't keep up with the pace of change in your company: Five new headsets arrived today. Four employees had their laptops stolen at a steakhouse in Tuscaloosa. Next month, ten printers are getting switched out with new models from the leasing company, and the month after that, 14 laptops. If you need an employee - even part time - to keep track of everything, you need a basic system to make the job easier.
  • There’s no single source of truth across the organization: Assets often get tracked in a ton of different places, by a ton of different people. No single person often owns it, and no single tool collects and centralizes the information. Naturally, chaos and inaccuracy ensue.

Asset management software options

Employees everywhere still rely on phone, email, and ye olde desk drive-by for
requests for new equipment, or when needing a laptop’s tires kicked, and everything else under the sun. A service desk tool is a good first step to change all that. It offers an easy way for employees to ask for help, plus it gives IT staff the ability to organize their requests.These requests are then fulfilled with the right level of reporting. The result is fast, accountable service.

Now you’re thinking: But what does this have to do with asset management? Well, for example, when a laptop requires maintenance, certain basic information is required: purchase date, previous issues, etc. A service desk tool is sine qua non (that’s fancy Latin meaning without which not, but ok, we could just say essential) to asset management, because the IT team can access any tickets (and other info) tied to the laptop. This quick and complete visibility means faster resolution of customer issues.

In addition to service desk software, asset management software comes in all flavors, from very nimble and affordable integrations to insanely complex and high-dollar solutions from legacy IT software vendors that can automatically discover all IP-based hardware on the network, wash the dishes piled up in your office's kitchen sink, and more. 

Hopefully this helps you get started evaluating the right IT asset management options for your organization. There are plenty of options to consider, whether you’re not ready to move on from spreadsheets, you’d prefer to scrap together a solution in Jira Software (as Atlassian did years ago), or you’re interested in trying Jira Service Desk along with the right asset management integration for your team. 

About the author

Daniel Horsfall

Workplace Productivity Analyst, Atlassian

I joined Atlassian three years ago as a founding member of the internal IT Team (now Workplace Productivity). In this time, I've driven several successful projects, from completely overhauling the IT staff induction, designing and setting up asset management using Jira, and recently, raising over $40,000 for Atlassian’s partner charity, Room to Read. I was born in England, and have a Science degree with a Psychology major from the University of Sydney. On weekends, you can find me diving in the Great Barrier Reef.

Wanna learn more?
Jira Service Desk logo

Solve more problems faster

Try it free