What is an IT Asset Inventory?
How Does it Work and Why You Should Use It. Best Practices for Managing IT Assets.
When referring to an IT asset, we usually talk about hardware (e.g. servers, routers, and switches), software (e.g., applications and support systems), and confidential information. So, it’s safe to assume that an IT Asset can be defined as any data, device, or other component of the environment that supports IT-related activities.
IT Asset inventory is therefore the way an organization documents and provides details of the assets it owns. This can cover a range of different types of assets, from tangible ones such as property and equipment, and intangible assets such as intellectual property.
IT Asset Inventory Basics
Implementing a way of managing your asset inventory is a critical part of your company’s accounting processes. It’s also a great way to make sure that your company clearly understands the assets it owns and that they are being used in the most efficient and cost-effective way.
Asset inventory management is the way the organization chooses to monitor the assets it owns to track and analyze issues such as physical location, maintenance requirements, depreciation, performance, and eventual asset disposal. In IT, this is called asset lifecycle management.
Most companies are bound to one or more IT asset inventory models. These frameworks help IT engineers and administrators better catalogue, manage, and maintain the assets (i.e. physical and non-physical) owned by the company. For instance, the ‘classical’ approach to IT inventory puts forward seven major categories as well as several sub-categories:
- Digital assets – executable software (i.e. source code), virtual/virtualized IT equipment (e.g. VM-type software, firmware, and any type virtual machine), digital information content assets (e.g., documents, graphics, media, dictionaries, databases, etc.).
- IT Hardware – physical media (e.g. digital assets and backups) and physical IT equipment (e.g. BYODs, servers, desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.).
- IT Asset Licenses – all the documentation regarding the ownership and right of use for all owned physical and non-physical assets).
- IT Asset Services – documentation and miscellaneous for services and assets supplied by a third-party.
- ITAM (IT Asset Management) – systems and tools used for IT asset management purposes. Also includes ITAM metadata (i.e., information employed for IT- and non-IT-related purposes).
- IT Asset Contract – general, IT-related documentation.
- Non-IT Assets. Personnel records and personnel-related documentation.
Now that we’ve jotted down the basic of IT asset inventory & management, let’s take a closer look at the benefits it can offer a business.
Why Use It
If you’ve had enough manual inventory asset systems, it’s time for a chance. One of the most significant benefits of an IT Asset Inventory is the ability to store all documents relating to each asset in one place. Receipts, warranties, user manuals – you name them! Keeping them together is a great way to improve organization and effectiveness in your asset inventory process.
Organizations using asset inventory software also appreciate the ability to automatically schedule maintenance, as well as performing remote updates and inspections to IT asset inventory such as laptops or tablets. This saves the IT department significant time and resources.
Another major benefit is the ability to reduce loss through theft of valuable assets via physical verification and tagging of fixed assets. This means that the IT asset inventory software can produce the most accurate asset inventory possible that can be compared to physical assets. Unlike manual methods, it identifies discrepancies much faster and resolves them much more promptly.
Other advantages of an IT Asset Inventory are:
- Providing a record of valuable assets for accounting and tracking purposes;
- Helping identify areas of potential risk (notebooks storing private data, servers with
- expired warranties etc.);
- Offering an important piece of information for business continuity planning;
- Providing relevant information during technical support or in the event of assets loss/theft.
Heimdal® Patch & Asset Management Software
- Schedule updates at your convenience;
- See any software assets in inventory;
- Global deployment and LAN P2P;
- And much more than we can fit in here...
IT Asset Inventor Best Practices
#1. Use the best tools
When it comes to the accuracy of your asset management, the software you use can really make a difference. Using older or legacy asset tracking systems will not only cost you time and money, but it will be more difficult for you to maintain accurate asset records.
Nowadays, more and more businesses don’t track assets or use manual processes to do so anymore. In addition to having a reliable system, you also need it to be scalable. Your asset management system should have the ability to grow with your company or you may find yourself in the awkward situation of having to switch asset tracking systems – with considerable costs. At this stage, companies that do track assets are increasingly moving their systems to the cloud in order to keep everyone connected and have all their records synced.
#2. Ensure accurate depreciation tracking
In order to make more informed decisions about when to decommission an asset and when to invest in a new one, you should know how they are depreciating. If you don’t track asset depreciation, your company will invest too much in their maintenance. This is why your asset management software should guarantee accurate calculation of depreciation.
#3. Establish a solid baseline
You should never put your trust in an outdated system. If you begin your inventory with inaccurate numbers, they will always be inaccurate. As an alternative, to make sure your items have been cataloged correctly, you should go back to the physical inventory and remove the so-called “ghost assets” (that still exist on the books but are no longer company property due to improper tracking) while you’re at it. Why is this important? First, you’ll no longer be paying taxes for an asset that you don’t even have. Second, you may think you have everything you need to complete a big upcoming order when in fact you’re short a crucial asset. There’s even such thing as “zombie” assets – the ones that are not on the books but are in your warehouse or office space. You need to know what you have and don’t have.
#4. Update your hardware and software
When managing IT assets, you need to make sure that both your hardware and software are well-integrated. They should work well together and be 100% compatible. Remember your hardware is equally important as your software component within your asset management system. Automation and accountability are just two of the many benefits you get when you upgrade your hardware and software in harmony. And speaking of automation, you can even try our very own Heimdal™ Patch & Asset Management solution, which allows you to deploy software, close vulnerabilities, achieve compliance, and see all software assets, thus mitigating breaches, data leaks, environment compromise, exploits, and compliance fines.
Along with a defense in depth strategy and a well-developed incident response plan, IT asset inventory can greatly contribute to the security of any organization, therefore you should always be aware of the fact that it is a process and not a one-time project.
With the right knowledge and proper practices, as well as a reliable suite of solutions, staying safe from vulnerabilities will come easy. As always, Heimdal Security can help you with the latter.
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