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What is IT Asset Management?

Updated on January 9, 2018
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Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, an industrial engineer, a mother of two, and a published sci-fi and horror author.

What is IT Asset Management?

IT asset management is the process of managing IT assets such as hardware and software assets. IT assets go through the same property life cycle as other assets. IT asset management may be the responsibility of the property manager, the IT department or finance.

Each computer is an asset in its own right to be tracked by inventory control.
Each computer is an asset in its own right to be tracked by inventory control. | Source

What are IT Assets?

IT assets can be divided into hardware, software and infrastructure. Hardware assets include computers, laptops, smart phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), tablet computers and other personal computing devices.

Hardware assets also include larger hardware like servers and web hosts. Software is considered an IT asset. Software IT assets include installed Operating Systems and software applications.

Software Asset Management

Software licensing may be tracked per licensed installation or "seat" based on the number of concurrent software users. Each model of software asset management has its advantages and disadvantages.

Using "seats" to limit software usage to a set of concurrent users permits more people to use the application as long as they do not do so all at once. "Seat" licenses are also simpler to maintain, since the number of licenses is increased on the server side. Then more users can log in and use the application supplied by the server.

Software licensing per software installation requires the removal of the software application to free up the license for use on another machine. If the computer is sent for disposition before the software is removed, that license may still be billed to the company even though it is no longer used. Improper software installation can use up licenses that are not available until the software is removed. Failed software upgrades from one software version to another can leave the user with two licensed versions until the problem is resolved by IT. However, software licensing based on software installations means that license servers are not required. If the software application license server is down, users with the software installed on their computers are not prevented from using the application.

IT asset management with regard to software can include efforts to ensure that users do not install company licensed software onto personal devices or install pirated software on company owned IT assets. IT asset management departments work with the IT department to track the licensed versions of software, ensuring that everyone who has the software application is upgraded to the next version when it comes out.

IT Asset Management Standards

There are several industry standards in IT for managing IT assets, both hardware and software.

Software asset management processes are outlined in ISO 19770-1 and ISO 19770-2. IT hardware asset management can be handled in accordance with ASTM E2812-11 or ISO 19770-1.

Why Do Companies Perform IT Asset Management?

IT asset management is an extension of general inventory management.

Laptops, computers and handheld devices are at risk of theft, even by employees, due to their value and ubiquitous nature. Asset management and periodic inventories help determine where items are actually located and identify when an item has disappeared. IT asset management can be a legal requirement as well. Asset management including IT asset management is legally required for companies performing contracts for the federal government.

IT asset management is often required to meet ISO standards. Software asset management, a subset of IT asset management, may be contractually required by companies that buy software licenses with volume discounts. IT asset management may be mandatory for customers who buy expensive software licenses to ensure that there are not more users than the licensing agreement allows.

What is the Property Life Cycle for IT Assets?

The property life cycle starts with the acquisition of the assets, whether they are purchased, leased or transferred with the customer contract. The second step in the property life cycle is the use of the IT assets. During the use phase of the property life cycle, asset allocation of physical property is handled by operations or the shop floor manager while IT assets may be managed by the IT department.

During the "use" stage of the property life cycle, the asset management team determines who can use the asset, pays monthly bills for the device like phone bills or data plans and performs periodic audits to verify the location of assets.

The last phase of the IT property life cycle is disposition. For IT hardware assets like computers and smart phones, they may be wiped before sent for recycling or destruction. For IT assets such as software, the disposition step involves the removal of the software and release of any related software license. IT asset disposition may also involve shipping unused items back to the customer who owns it.


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