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Asset Tracking vs. IT Asset Management

Asset Tracking vs. IT Asset Management

When faced with the task of automating control over technology assets, IT professionals and the organizations they represent will often focus specifically on IT Asset Management (ITAM) systems that are designed exclusively for that purpose. In some circumstances, that is precisely the correct approach. But in many organizations, weak controls over technology assets are symptomatic of a far greater problem of insufficient controls over all fixed assets. There may well be benefits to a departmental solution but there exists the risk of squandering the opportunity to establish broader more durable controls organization wide.

Is it just IT assets that require management, or would your organization benefit from a top-to-bottom asset management approach?

From its design, an ITAM system is narrowly focused. An ITAM system can be recognized by reliance on network discovery data as the primary means to identify assets. These systems contain data fields and vocabulary specifically for technology assets and functionality that relates to IT tasks such as help desk, lease management, life cycle planning, etc.

Seven benefits of an ITAM implementation:

  1. Network discovery data can be maintained on a schedule and reflects the network status of each connected device at that time.
  2. ITAM systems typically include an array of IT oriented modules to expand to the use of the data for a number of purposes.
  3. Maintenance of the data involves little labor due to the reliance on the census tool for updates.
  4. Physical asset tagging is avoided.
  5. Data can be designed, collected and used for the exclusive benefit of the IT department.
  6. Typically, integration with other systems is not a component of the solution.
  7. Lead time for implementation is shortened because the need to address external requirements is limited or not required.

Clearly, ITAM system have considerable value if the specific problem is only IT assets and controls over other types of assets are deemed to be sufficient.

Our experience is that the combination of strong overall asset controls and weak IT controls is an extremely rare circumstance. It is more likely that weak organization wide controls are most conspicuous with technology assets simply due to their visibility.

Six benefits of a full-scale asset management system:

  1. General asset tracking solutions are designed to address all assets and, usually, to integrate into organization wide accounting and management systems.
  2. Asset tagging becomes the standard for asset identification resolving the weakness of ITAM systems that track only items that are identifiable by the network.
  3. Higher end asset tracking software will provide the means to modify the database and user experience to the requirements of each department and to segregate the data for each.
  4. The visibility of asset data is organization wide supporting a more balanced, broader platform to manage assets.
  5. Asset data can be audited.
  6. A properly implemented asset tracking capability will support financial statements and internal controls.

While a more general asset tracking solution will provide a greater value proposition, it will entail a deeper examination of the needs of the organization and a greater commitment to its implementation. Nonetheless, when the topic of ITAM arises, it is advisable to look deeper to determine if it is a specific need or a symptom of a larger problem.