What Are the ITAM Types? Plus Strategies for Managing Them

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 14 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Information technology asset management, or ITAM, is an important combination of procedures and policies that allows businesses to oversee its technology. There are different types of IT asset management that you use to coordinate the products, systems and services in an organisation's IT infrastructure. Understanding each of the ITAM types and reviewing the best practices of each one can help you be more successful in a supervisory IT role or when coordinating IT needs for a business. In this article, we provide an in-depth overview of the different categories of IT asset management and describe the key components of each type.

Related: 21 Best Technology Jobs to Choose With Salaries and Duties

The 5 ITAM types

The ITAM types include physical, digital, mobile, cloud and software asset management. There are many elements that contribute to an organisation's IT operations, and comprehensive IT management addresses each of these components. Overseeing different types of IT assets involves using unique management strategies, so it's useful to have an in-depth understanding of what each category encompasses. Here's a review of the main types of asset management in IT:

1. Physical asset management

Physical IT asset management refers to overseeing IT hardware, tech products and physical inventory that relates to information, computer systems and networking. Managing physical IT assets involves making decisions about what kind of devices a company requires to power its IT systems. Physical ITAM strategy focuses on assessing the technical specifications for a project or organisation and selecting inventory to match those requirements. Asset management for physical devices often involves sourcing physical storage locations for devices, determining if devices are compatible with the company's software and placing orders for more equipment to facilitate expansion.

Examples of physical assets for IT include:

  • monitors

  • copiers

  • cables

  • hard drives

  • routers

  • modems

  • scanners

Related: What Is an IT Consultant (With Tips and Steps to Become One)

2. Digital asset management

Digital asset management refers to the way you manage data and information. The actual details you input into a database are digital assets, and your systems for organising that data are your digital asset management strategies. IT departments rely on databases to process algorithms, store information about the organisation, analyse data, make projections, support the function of websites and facilitate the operation of software applications. Successful digital asset management allows you to organise data in a way that IT professionals can easily access and utilise.

Some common types of digital IT assets are:

  • photos

  • videos

  • text files

  • spreadsheets

  • customer information

  • financial details

3. Mobile asset management

The way members of the IT team use mobile devices is a key element of asset management. It involves supervising the way that internal employees use mobile company devices like phones and tablets that connect to a business network. Having a mobile asset management strategy involves implementing policies about how team members use their devices, ensuring they can keep company data safe and secure. This can include setting standards for the types of apps employees download on their devices, how they share passwords and the ability of employers to access device information.

Here are some elements of mobile asset management:

  • downloading administrative software onto company phones

  • password protecting company apps

  • limiting the ability to access company data through mobile devices

  • creating databases to keep track of the mobile device that each employee currently possesses

4. Software asset management

Software asset management refers to the way businesses manage their software needs and write policies to administer software throughout the organisation. An important aspect of software IT asset management is ensuring that all software has the appropriate licensing and user permissions for everyone in the organisation. IT managers and administrators carefully review the licensing agreements for any third-party software purchases to ensure that they only install software program on the appropriate number of devices. Another element of software asset management is regularly checking for updates, installing drivers and transferring data from legacy software to new systems.

Examples of software assets include:

  • third-party software program

  • internal business software applications

  • software products for clients

Related: What Is Software Development? Definition, Process and Types

5. Cloud asset management

Many businesses use the cloud to store company data instead of hosting internal databases, making cloud asset management integral to their business operations. Managing different components of cloud hosting ensures that your IT team has constant access to data and services that you host online. Supervising cloud services involves reviewing the essential features that the cloud serves within your organisation and controlling the security and function of each one. You may integrate cloud asset management with digital asset management and software asset management because the cloud can host a range of storage, networking and software services.

Here are some of the cloud-based assets you can manage:

  • web storage

  • online servers

  • metadata history

  • cloud security and compliance

Related: How to Become a Cloud Architect in 6 Steps (With Tips)

7 strategies for managing IT assets

Use these steps as a guide when developing a strategy for each category of IT asset management:

1. Review your current IT asset types

Start by determining which aspects of ITAM are the highest priority for your organisation. Many companies have all five types of IT assets, but some may not have a cloud infrastructure or company mobile devices. When you begin implementing IT asset management, start with the ITAM type that's most prevalent in your organisation. You can do this by creating an inventory of all your IT assets and starting with the category that's the most valuable to the organisation, or choosing the type that has the most daily interaction from your IT team.

2. Understand the IT asset lifecycle

Knowing how the IT asset lifecycle works makes it easier to develop systems for each asset category. The lifecycle applies to all five types of ITAM, so you can use this framework for every element of your planning and procedures. Here are the five steps of the IT asset lifecycle:

  1. Planning: During this phase, you develop a strategy for the required assets to fulfil the needs of your team. You then plan how to acquire the necessary resources and how you want to distribute those assets.

  2. Acquisition: Once you determine what kinds of IT tools your team wants, you procure assets by either purchasing them or building them yourself through software development and engineering.

  3. Integration: In the integration step, you acquire resources and begin using inventory, installing software, setting up accounts for your team and creating systems for using IT processes.

  4. Maintenance: IT maintenance is ongoing, and IT team members constantly troubleshoot and improve software, hardware and database systems.

  5. Retirement: When IT assets are no longer useful, the IT team retires those assets and removes them from the department by cancelling contracts and uninstalling software.

3. Develop asset tracking systems

Creating asset tracking systems can be helpful when managing all types of IT assets. You can develop comprehensive databases that summarise all of the IT assets within the organisation, or you can design smaller sub-systems that focus on specific types of inventory within each type. Examples of tracking systems to consider include:

  • patch management databases to track software updates

  • license management tools to oversee software and intellectual property requirements

  • inventory management spreadsheets to summarise physical inventory requirements

4. Document previous versions

A thorough documentation system is a key part of having a successful IT asset management strategy. Documenting your previous IT systems as you make updates can help you track the cause of any fluctuations in efficiency or productivity. Having records of all of your IT processes and procedures can also help you track down information if you ever want to locate details about a particular project. Try creating detailed records every time you make changes to your ITAM processes and label each version in a place that other IT department leaders can access.

5. Encourage team members to make requests

Give members of the IT team the opportunity to make requests about the assets they may find useful. Having request forms for software assets, physical assets and cloud assets can help you learn about what kind of infrastructure your team wants and needs. Gathering this information can enhance the planning stage of the IT asset management lifecycle. Managing requests from employees can help you track the process of procuring new resources for software, equipment and other products for your team.

6. Research requirements

Before implementing a new asset in the workplace, make sure that you understand the requirements and specifications for using that product in your organisation. Review current policies about using third-party software and equipment, then research external licensing rules. The more you know about IT assets before you acquire them, the easier they can be to manage.

7. Prepare plans for future assets

If you plan to expand your IT team and incorporate new types of IT assets, create a management plan before you start using them. For example, if you want to start using cloud services, develop policies for cloud inventory management before incorporating these services. This promotes consistency among your team and decreases the chance for any compliance issues at the beginning of a new IT project.

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