IT asset management is the organizational discipline of “provid[ing] an accurate account of technology asset lifecycle costs and risks to maximize the business value of technology strategy, architecture, funding, contractual and sourcing decisions,” according to Gartner. Teams use ITAM software or other tools to maximize the value of IT spend, control costs, manage risks, support decision-making about assets, and meet regulatory and contractual requirements for on-premises and cloud assets.
In this article, we will focus on the crucial role of ITAM software in meeting compliance obligations to avoid fines, penalties, and security issues.
Topics covered include:
- ITAM’s role in regulatory compliance: Covering some of the major regulations that require automated ITAM capabilities.
- ITAM use cases: Reviewing IT asset inventory, software licenses, hardware and software compliance, vendor management and third-party compliance, and data privacy and GDPR compliance.
- ITAM best practices: Addressing policies and procedures, automated asset discovery and tracking, regular audits and assessments, collaboration across departments, and records and documentation, and budget constraints.
- ITAM challenges and pitfalls: Covering data accuracy and timeliness, organizational complexity, legacy systems and outdated software, resource allocations and budget constraints, audits, and staff training and development.
Ensuring IT Asset Compliance in the Digital Age
ITAM teams must ensure regulatory compliance with regional, country, and industry requirements; adhere to vendor and customer requirements; and meet internal audit obligations.
The regulatory landscape is changing fast, creating new compliance standards. Some of the regulations that involve ITAM either directly or indirectly include:
- Regulations governing data: Numerous regulations cover the collection, storage, use, and transfer of data, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
- Regulations addressing cybersecurity breaches: The Security and Exchange Commission’s Final Rule on Cybersecurity Risk Management, Strategy, Governance, and Incident Disclosure requires that publicly traded companies disclose cybersecurity breaches within four days.
- Software licensure management: Numerous federal and Department of Defense (DOD) policies and acts require that providers use enterprise-wide or automated software license management systems. They include DOD Instruction 4140.73 Asset Physical Accountability Policy and DOD Instruction 5000.64 Accountability and Management of DoD Equipment and Other Accountable Property, as well as many others.
So, how does an ITAM solution help demonstrate compliance with regulations?
Companies can’t ensure data privacy or vouch for software and hardware systems, unless they know the systems that they’re running; what security protocols, software, and firmware they use; and how they handle data. Security teams can’t quickly disclose breaches, unless they understand which systems were impacted, which data they store, and their dependencies. And companies can’t guarantee software licensing compliance unless they can monitor all hardware and software assets, reviewing data such as when devices were purchased, number of users, terms of licensing agreements, and other details.
ITAM Use Cases for Compliance
Here’s how ITAM solutions fulfill the requirements of key use cases for regulatory compliance:
- Creating an IT asset inventory for compliance: ITAM solutions use automation to discover all physical, virtual, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures. They can be scheduled as often as needed to keep IT inventories up-to-date, as well as run on-demand. In addition, users can automate IT asset documentation, so that stakeholders always have the information they need.
- Ensuring effective license management: One of the key duties of SAM teams is to ensure software compliance. They can do this by using ITAM solutions to manage all software licenses across hybrid infrastructures, including user-, device, and CPU-based models. Automated ITAM solutions track current software usage against license counts, prohibited software, license agreements and expiration dates, and purchased versus installed software. And these tools aksi provide automated contract expiration reminders, so that teams can renew software on a timely basis. SAM teams can use this data to prove compliance to software vendors, renegotiate contracts, avoid paying for unused software, pay bills, maximize warranties, and prevent fines.
- Maintaining hardware and security compliance: IT teams manage more hardware than ever, across data centers, commercial facilities, and edge sites. ITAM tools enable teams to print customized QR codes, auto-assign customizable asset numbers, and manage an unlimited number of non-IP assets via a web portal.
ITAM solutions also provide auto-discovery capabilities to ensure that security software and firewalls are installed on hardware and that it has proper disk encryption.
- Overseeing vendor management and third-party compliance: ITAM solutions provide data and documents, such as contracts, that teams can use to manage vendors, ensuring they are meeting contractual requirements. This data can also be used to support routine risk assessments.
- Ensuring data privacy and GDPR compliance: With near-real-time insights into all software assets and application and process dependencies, teams can monitor how data is used across their organization. They can use this data to protect personally identifiable information, improve security, and ensure compliance with regulations like GDPR.
Best Practices for Ensuring Effective IT Asset Management
To succeed with ITAM, enterprises need to establish a team, set up governance, provide automated tools and reporting, and commit to evolving the maturity of hardware and software asset management (HAM/SAM) processes. They will also need to take a lifecycle approach to managingIT assets, encompassing planning and budgeting, acquisition, assignment, utilization and optimization, decommissioning, and disposal.
Specific best practices for ensuring successful ITAM functions include:
- Establishing clear ITAM policies and procedures: ITAM policies outline organizations’ positions and leadership commitment to proper asset management. These policies provide roles and responsibilities, controls and guidelines, and compliance requirements. They also specify tools that teams should use and procedures they must follow and discuss any consequences for failing to adhere to policy guidance.
- Automating asset discovery and tracking: Teams can run jobs on-demand or schedule routine updates. Automated ITAM solutions use agentless and agent-based processes to discover all assets, grabbing data from hosts and virtual machines. Teams can use this data to track the entire lifecycle of IP- and non-IP-based assets. However, they should verify input, detecting and resolving any anomalies.
- Conducting regular audits and assessments: SAM/HAM teams can work other key stakeholders to perform regular status checks on devices and execute internal ITAM audits. By doing so, these teams can identify any issues and resolve them proactively, before they result in penalties or create security issues.
- Collaborating across departments: While IT teams will drive ITAM processes, they interact with a host of other stakeholders, who have a vested interest in ensuring software and hardware compliance. ITAM stakeholders include finance leaders, who set asset budgets; procurement teams, who purchase devices; compliance teams, who are responsible for this function organization-wide; business heads, who oversee device fleets and equip users; transformation teams, tasked with modernizing the application portfolio; security teams, looking for gaps and weaknesses; and IT service management (ITSM) teams, who troubleshoot device issues. Automating customized reporting to support the different functions will help each group perform their responsibilities, using the most current, comprehensive data possible.
- Keeping detailed records and documentation: Automated processes will capture all device information, while teams can run diverse reports to provide lenses into assets by location, cloud provider, power distribution unit, and category. They also can generative duplicate asset, lifecycle management, ITSM operations, and hardware end-of-life reports. All of these reports can be produced on-demand to satisfy compliance and audit requirements.
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Common Challenges and Pitfalls with ITAM Solutions
So, what are some common challenges with maximizing ITAM usefulness?
- Ensuring data accuracy and timeliness: Teams need to schedule jobs at the right cadence, review output to ensure it is accurate, and review and address any anomolies.
- Simplifying organizational complexity: Stakeholders are seeking to reduce organization, network, and device complexity to create scalable processes. ITAM insights can be used to consolidate, retire, and modernize hardware and software, bringing new capabilities to teams and reducing organizational complexity.
- Addressing legacy systems and outdated software: ITAM reports reveal what hardware and software is end-of-life. Cross-functional teams can use this data to decide whether capabilities are still needed, how to acquire them, and how and when to decommission aging systems.
- Addressing resource allocations and budget constraints: ITAM solutions provide valuable data that can be used to allocate resources, such as how many new devices are needed to support business growth and equip workforces or support transformation initiatives.
In addition, companies want to ensure that they are spending on the right priorities. ITAM solutions can detect waste, such as unused solutions, enabling finance and procurement to rightsize spending.
- Managing audits: Organizations regularly get audited by leading hardware and software companies, such as AWS, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and more. Managing license agreements proactively and pulling accurate documentation is key to passing these audits and avoiding fines.
- Staff training and skill development: Asset-tracking solutions reveal the solutions organizations are using, as well as growth patterns. This data can be used to forecast what new skills are needed, enabling teams to plan staff training and development. In addition, leading vendors can provide demos, training videos, how-to guides, and other technical documentation that ITAM teams can use to train new staff on key processes.
Streamline Regulatory Compliance Processes with ITAM Solutions
ITAM solutions provide valuable data and intelligence that supports organizations’ regulatory compliance processes and scale with business growth.
SAM/HAM teams should encourage other stakeholders to prioritize ITAM processes to identify and mitigate issues, ensure data privacy and security, and meet all regulatory and customer requirements in every industry and geography their companies serve.