Integration – A Key Element in Asset Lifecycle Management

By Barbara McCulloch & Michelle Hannes, Halliburton

Is your IT asset management (ITAM) organization struggling with a stand-alone ITAM tool, multiple data entry points or significant manual effort gathering HR, procurement, financial or location information? Are you looking to replace your current tool? If so, have you considered how integration with other applications could create efficiencies in your asset management processes? If not, you should!

ERP systems, discovery / inventory tools and service management ticketing can create multiple data entry and exit points in the asset lifecycle management process. Integration with these key applications can reduce or eliminate the manual effort to gather data from them. Integration can also facilitate providing real-time asset data to other teams such as desktop support who need asset information when working with customers. Integration can take several forms, from fully automated integration points with direct connections between two applications or data extracts that are pulled into the ITAM tool on a regular basis.

Overall, integrating key data points into your asset management tool can streamline data entry, improve data consistency and create process efficiencies in your asset management program.

To determine which processes would benefit from integration, create a list of all processes / tools involved in your asset management program. Define the manual touch points and list any benefit that could be achieved by integration.

It’s important to determine how each system will pass data to one another. For example, if the ERP system is the primary data source for employee data, the integration of the ERP and asset management tools for HR data would be one way. Financial data could be two way to allow for chargeback and update of fixed assets at retirement. The following is a simple map of potential integrated systems and the direction data passes between each.

Procurement Data

Asset Management starts when assets are procured into the organization. Integration with the company procurement application can streamline the asset provisioning process. The ability to create and populate the required asset information directly into the asset management tool from the procurement process can eliminate duplicate data entry, increase data consistency and help to capture initial procurement costs which feed into total cost of ownership calculations. Integrating procurement data helps to ensure data integrity and makes reporting on assets an easier process.

Human Resource (HR) Data

Having real-time access to information such as employee name, financial charge code, job title, employee number or user name, physical location, hire and termination dates along with employee status, supervisor, etc., helps to ensure that assets are properly assigned and tracked across your organization. Current and accurate people data is vital when assigning assets at a user level. Up-to-date information becomes even more critical if chargebacks are done to this level of detail.

People data also plays a key role in asset management for global organizations by helping to ensure that assets are transferred correctly as people transfer between countries. Valid HR data can also help you effectively manage when people leave the company, allowing the asset management team to reclaim and reuse assets where appropriate.

Accurate location data helps when performing a physical inventory – a best practice that the organization should be completing annually. It can also help in planning for software deployments, hardware refresh projects and assessing the impact of other asset related initiatives throughout the company.

Financial Data

By integrating your asset management system with your ERP to capture initial purchase cost, cost of warranty or maintenance, depreciation costs for fixed assets and other financial data, you can effectively report the total cost of hardware, software, maintenance and support. Capturing accurate financial data allows the asset management team to calculate the total cost for replacement of hardware, impact of retiring assets and cost of lost / stolen devices. Accurate financial data also helps capture cost avoidance data for license and hardware reclamation and re-use.

Discovery Data

Integration with discovery and inventory tools can provide a significant amount of information that can improve processes for both hardware and software asset management. Discovery data can assist in identifying hardware and software assets that may be in your environment but not in your ITAM tool. Discovery and inventory data can also shorten the asset inventory process by validating information such as username, asset tag, serial number and other key data in the discovery tool that matches what is in your ITAM tool. Inventory tools can also provide asset hardware configuration and software installation information. This information is critical to maintaining software license compliance and can be incorporated into a regular license reconciliation program. When considering the integration of discovery data, think about both short term and long term goals. Short term may be discovery of unknown assets and validation of user assignment, but a long term goal may be usage metering of software for increased efficiency and cost savings.

Service Management Ticketing

Integration with a service management ticketing system can be beneficial not only to the help desk and desktop support teams; asset management can benefit as well. Providing assigned asset information via the ticketing system can allow the support teams to verify configuration information on hardware as they troubleshoot the device. As desktop or help desk staff touch assets in their normal day-to-day activities, they can also perform asset validation; passing that information back into the asset management system. For software assets, insight into accurate licensing data can eliminate the need for separate validation prior to reinstalling thus decreasing the risk of compliance issues.

Integrating systems requires planning, technical expertise and investing both time and money. However, it can significantly improve processes by eliminating duplicate data entry points, increasing data accuracy, and providing asset data to teams outside of asset management. Integration between systems should be a consideration of any asset management program.

About the Author

Barbara McCulloch is the IT Mgr., Global ITAM for Halliburton Company.