The discipline of IT asset management (ITAM) is nascent in North America, but it’s growing. As companies demand more rigour in how they provide IT products and services, they also need to carefully consider how they think about assets, to make sure they include all relevant assets in their ITAM programs.

The word “asset” has specific meaning when it comes to taxes and investments. Usually, people think of assets as tangible items, things they can touch. In an IT context this includes many things, including servers, desktops, mobile phones, and storage, and it should also include software. Software lives in the background, but it is just as important, if not more important, for any organization trying to deliver IT value.

Software Is More Than Just a Tool

Software often makes up between 20 and 25 per cent of an organization’s IT budget, but it does not always get that same the focus in terms of control and optimization. This happens because most organizations don’t understand the value of software.

For example, the end users of a product like Adobe Photoshop typically don’t see it as an asset; they see it as a tool they need to do their work. The IT department sees it as a service that needs to be provided, and the finance department sees it as a line item that needs to be paid for. However, software is more than just a tool providing a capability—it has implied liabilities, contractual responsibilities, and financial obligations.

By encouraging everyone in an organization to think of software as an asset, it brings transparency to what software costs, why it’s being used, and how many people are using it. This shift in perspective is crucial to establishing better control, increasing optimization, and providing predictability to all levels of an organization. This appreciation is also critical to managing long-term costs associated with software maintenance, complying with software license agreements, and ensuring that employees have the tools they need to do their jobs.

Better Information Means Better Asset Management

Data, information, and knowledge are the universal equalizers. Providing users access to the right information empowers them to make smarter choices. The responsibility and accountability then resides with IT to deliver the best value for money and drive economic optimization on these assets.

In North America, most organization don’t have the capability to measure their IT delivery and costs against other comparable organizations. This gap increases the challenges in IT because you can’t optimize what you can’t measure. An IT asset management program will give you the information and data you need to make smarter decision on how you create the value chain within your business.

When implementing an ITAM program, be sure to scope it appropriately. This means including hardware, software, and mobile components in your program. To get the best value from an ITAM program, focusing on the biggest financial drivers is always a wise move.