Many of today’s business-critical operations depend on having properly functioning IT assets, which play a crucial part in helping companies meet their business targets and achieve growth. Modern organizations invest in an array of IT assets—such as software applications, laptops, data centers, and servers. The sheer number of these assets can quickly become unmanageable if a company hasn’t established a robust IT asset management strategy.
To help you understand the importance of IT asset management software, this guide will walk you through how a managed services provider (MSP) can improve efficiency and safeguard business continuity by effectively managing assets.
What is IT asset management?
In recent years, business IT footprints have grown exponentially—and they’ll only continue to do so as time goes on. As the number of IT assets multiplies, manually managing these assets becomes increasingly inefficient, both in terms of cost and resource consumption. IT asset management software can help you boost efficiency by helping your MSP achieve the maximum return on investment for each of your assets. This enables your business to make more informed decisions regarding IT resource management.
IT asset management refers to a number of business practices that, when implemented correctly, should maximize your IT assets’ value within your business. These practices should be applied to the management of your IT assets’ inventory, financial, and contractual information, in addition to being used to monitor the utility of your assets across their relative lifecycle. Effective asset management usually also involves maintaining a centralized record of your assets, so they can be managed from a single location or platform. This incorporates the IT assets across business units and departments, combining risk, inventory, and contractual management activities. Effectively managing the lifecycle of your assets helps inform strategic and tactical decision-making.
The types of assets typically included are:
- Hardware, which is the physical equipment (i.e., laptops, printers, or keyboards)
- Software, which refers to program applications licensed or owned by a business
Why is using IT asset management software important?
There are numerous benefits associated with using IT asset management software. First and foremost, effective management of IT assets is a crucial aspect of a comprehensive cybersecurity plan. It lets you keep track of hardware and software; without this, you can’t properly determine security risk and points of vulnerability.
This software can automate software and hardware updates, helping prevent your assets from becoming vulnerable to cyberattacks and stopping them from becoming a gateway that can be exploited into your systems. With it, your MSP can more easily keep its assets updated according to a pre-configured schedule.
In the unfortunate event that your MSP does fall victim to a cyberattack, IT asset management software can help you identify areas of access the attacker may have reached, as well as locating any data that may have been lost or stolen.
Finally, this software can help your MSP improve wider infrastructure management and minimize overheads. It achieves this by allowing you to manage your complete IT asset lifecycle, detect devices being used within your business, track devices in multiple locations, populate asset details and cross-reference as necessary, track asset depreciation, and conduct scans to improve accountability and transparency. For example, having a comprehensive record of all assets and the eventual dates they need to be replaced can help you budget in advance, perform proactive maintenance, and minimize costs in the long run.
The risks of manually managing IT assets
MSPs choosing to manually manage IT assets are likely to face a number of challenges and risks, especially as the number of IT assets grows. This is even more true for MSPs managing multiple customer networks. Manual management leads to errors, which could affect the MSP’s bottom line. By automating asset management, your MSP can increase efficiency and reduce the likelihood of errors significantly.
Other risks associated with manually managing IT assets include:
- Time and effort spent tracking and updating assets, which can detract from other duties
- Idle assets and subscriptions resulting in unnecessary costs
- Complex workflows caused by scattered activity logs, hindering collaboration
- Poor insight into your IT frameworks, making monitoring compliance and usage challenging
- Insufficient data leading to poor decision-making, which can impact revenue
- Failure to comply with licensing requirements, resulting in penalties and reputational damage
These risks can be minimized or avoided by investing in enterprise-grade IT asset management software.
Inventory management benefits of IT asset management software
Many businesses track asset purchases and conduct IT inventory management through distinct systems. Because of this, individuals managing a company’s IT assets are unlikely to have full visibility into contracts and SLAs. As such, planning for future procurement and checking when contracts are in need of renewal may be challenging.
IT asset management software provides your team with comprehensive insight into both software and hardware. This assists with budget allocation and tactical purchase planning. As briefly mentioned above, once existing IT assets approach end of life or an end of a contract, your team can allocate budget towards the new equipment.
If your software includes inventory management features it can allow you to do the following:
- Track your asset inventory across departments and locations
- Track purchase orders, procurement costs, and vendors from one space
- View who has checked certain items or assets in and out, increasing accountability
- Map IT asset availability, to reduce stockouts and overbooking
Measuring the success of your IT asset management strategy
To quantify the effectiveness of your IT asset management strategy, it is important to have relevant KPIs to understand how effective the strategy is. Asset management software can help you monitor a number of metrics, which you can use to determine the success of your approach. The following metrics can give you insight into how effective your strategy is:
- Percentage of assets in your asset database
- Percentage of assets with valid maintenance contracts and licenses
- Percentage of your software vendors covered by your current asset reporting
- The average age of hardware assets
How can IT asset management software improve decision making?
One of the key ways IT asset management software can help you improve efficiency in your MSP is by informing investments and other resource decisions. It can be leveraged to monitor how software is being used and to help you analyze data, providing insights that can be applied to business-critical decisions. For example, tracking asset histories and configuration changes can help you access details to proactively resolve issues and prevent downtime for customers.
These insights can also help you make proactive and data-driven choices in the future. This software also informs decisions by allowing you to generate software and hardware usage reports, giving you insight into workflows. Other features often include the ability to schedule custom alerts and reports, which can be sent to employees when renewals or upgrades are required.
Choosing the right IT asset management software
When it comes to choosing the right IT software for growing MSPs, we recommend getting started with a comprehensive, all-in-one tool like N-able™ RMM (formerly SolarWinds MSP). RMM gives you access to a versatile suite of remote monitoring tools, eliminating the need for MSPs to juggle multiple pieces of software. With RMM, you can help maintain, secure, and improve your customers’ IT systems from a single dashboard. This centralizes your technician workflows and asset management activities.
N-able RMM features MDM capabilities, which allow you to manage and secure devices from a single dashboard. Enterprise MDM software specialize primarily in managing mobile devices and employee-owned devices. Managing these components is an important part of a comprehensive asset management strategy, which is why we recommend choosing software that incorporates such capabilities—such as N-able RMM. RMM also seamlessly integrates with tools like N-able MSP Manager, which enhances asset management capabilities and allow you to populate tickets with asset details.
Effective IT asset management, and using the right software, can make a significant difference to your MSP’s efficiency and productivity. It can help you manage your mobile devices, implement and maintain a BYOD policy, demonstrate compliance, and safeguard your company against external cybersecurity threats. To learn more about how an IT asset management tool can help your MSP simplify workflows and speed up resolution time, a 30-day free trial of N-able RMM is available.