For many companies, the approach to IT Asset Management (ITAM) is an occasional inventory and then forget about it for a while. What these companies likely don’t know is that poor asset management is bad for their business. Not only are companies missing out on a tremendous set of opportunities to use asset data to improve productivity and streamline operational processes, but not having this data may be putting your company at risk. The biggest of these risks are financial and security.
There are more processes that (should be) driven off of asset data than most IT and Finance leaders realize. A couple of the most obvious and direct examples are tax calculations and contracts with IT vendors. Most companies are charged an annual property tax on the value of the company’s assets. Procurement and IT departments are usually pretty good about recording new assets when they are acquired, but less diligent about removing assets when they are disposed of.
Poor asset management practices lead to an overstatement of the company’s asset value, not claiming as much depreciation as the company is entitled and the company over-paying property taxes. A similar thing happens with IT supplier contracts. Software licenses and vendor support contracts are based on the asset inventory data. If the asset data isn’t correct and current, companies will find themselves paying for software and support that they don’t really need.
Less obvious, but more disturbing is the impact that poor asset management practices have on the company’s information security risks. Without a clear picture of the IT assets you have, how do know what exposure you have to security attack and how vulnerable you are? Some of the most important IT processes in modern companies are IT risk assessment, patching and incident response. All of these processes make use of the asset management data to ensure completeness and sound decision making. With asset data that is out of date, incomplete or not properly managed in an IT Asset Management system, the likelihood and impact of security events impacting your business operations are significantly elevated.
Quality Asset Data Improves Planning
IT asset data forms the hub for your organization’s CMDB – a core set of technical components that other things in your environment can be mapped to. Software, users, business processes, integrations, and dependencies are all referenced off your IT asset data records. Ensuring this core data is correct, complete and current will not only help you avoid the risks (discussed above) but provide the information to drive valuable planning. By understanding what assets you have, where they are located and who is using them, your business analysts and planners will be able to make more informed recommendations on how to optimize your business operations and improve employee productivity.
Well-connected asset data and healthy asset management processes can also be the ‘canary in the coal mine’ alerting you when unexpected changes are happening in your environment. Have a bunch of new assets been discovered that shouldn’t be there (perhaps someone went on a shopping spree)? Are you no longer able to see the status of assets at a particular site (perhaps the location has been closed)? Is a bunch of new connections being made from your IT assets to a server outside your network (perhaps you have a security breach on your hands)?
High-quality asset data and robust asset management processes can be the start of business insights that take your company’s performance to the next level. But poor asset management can quickly turn into bad news for your business.