One way to look at IT Asset Management (ITAM) is to compare it to a bank vault. Computers, monitors, servers, PDA’s, projectors as the assets for ITAM and cash (100’s, 50’s, 20’s, 10’s, 5’s and 1’s) as the asset for the bank vault.
Banks order their cash from the Federal Reserve much like ITAM orders inventory from a vendor, specific quantities of specific denominations vs. specific quantities of specific models with specific specs. They receive the cash, verify it and secure it in the vault, much like ITAM would verify the equipment, asset tag it, and place it in inventory. ITAM does take it a step further by actually tagging the equipment and recording serial numbers as well. A bank does not get so detailed that it records the serial number on each bill.
Think of the departments within your organization as a bank may think of its tellers. As ITAM distributes equipment it tracks where it goes, what quantity, what model, which department or even individual. A bank tracks the cash as to which denomination, of what quantity goes to the individual teller. The bank would have the teller sign acknowledging receipt of the cash as ITAM may use a log or a work order that an individual would either sign or complete as verification of the receipt of equipment.
While a bank would inventory a teller’s cash at the end of each day it may only conduct an audit on a monthly basis. ITAM on the other hand may only conduct a physical inventory on an annual or bi-annual basis. The frequency would depend on the size of your organization. The importance of the audits are to minimize loss to the company, while a bank may lose actual cash, ITAM may lose information that could translate into a monetary loss for the company.
While most people view old computers as junk or trash, there definitely is still a significant value to them. While they no longer function, they still may have critical or confidential information on them that if in the wrong hands would become a significant liability for a company. A bank would never just throw away its old money just like ITAM should never just throw away its old equipment. While a bank would send the tattered and torn bills back to the Federal Reserve where it would be properly destroyed, ITAM would remove the equipment from the given departments, and once sent to a valid computer recycle/destruction company, would remove it from the inventory.
ITAM is really not much different than banking management. Both are responsible for assets that if not handled properly would lead to financial losses to a company along with the loss of the public trust, which would translate to further financial impact due to loss of business. It is important that equipment is tracked and controlled from the time it hits the front door to the time it leaves and that it is properly disposed of. Tracking and audits lets people know that assets are valued and being watched. It also allows for more accurate budgeting when projecting lifecycle replacement cost. While ITAM assets may not be deposited at a bank, they certainly are of value to a company and actually are tracked in greater detail than a bank’s cash. The next time you are handling an asset think of it as money in the bank.