What would happen if your company’s main server suddenly stopped working? Productivity would come to a sudden halt. If you don’t have a backup server with a continuity plan, it can take hours or days to get back online. In that time, you lose money for every hour of downtime. When you ask a technician what happened, you may hear responses such as, “The server was old. The (hard drive, motherboard, power supply, etc.) failed.”
How do companies avoid incidents like this? By creating plans to replace old equipment.
Quality IT providers and internal IT departments use a strategy called IT Asset Lifecycle Management to anticipate declining hardware and plan for its replacement.
WEBIT Services has been developing IT strategy, procuring equipment, and deploying technology for over 25 years for hundreds of clients.
By the end of this article, you will know what IT Asset Lifecycle Management is, what it does, and how it can benefit your business (or hurt your business if done poorly).
What is IT Asset Lifecycle Management?
IT Asset Lifecycle Management (ITAM) is the IT management strategy of knowing when to replace hardware and software.
Essentially, your IT provider or internal IT department should know every IT asset used in your company, how old the asset is, and when it will need to be replaced for optimum efficiency and productivity. All hardware or software is replaced before it becomes problematic and obsolete.
The hard truth is that computers have a lifespan of roughly 3-5 years.
Can you use a computer past that five-year mark? Sure.
But can you be sure it will work well? Or will it be slow, unpredictable, and glitchy?
Will it continue to accommodate the software and updates needed to perform essential business tasks?
Statistically, the answer is “no.” Use and environmental factors like moisture, heat, and dirt/dust will break down the electronic components inside a computer. The technology industry also operates under the “planned obsolescence” model, essentially making older technology incompatible with new technology.
The IT Roadmap
IT Asset Lifecycle Management is an integral part of your IT Roadmap—the short-and long-term IT plans for an individual organization.
When you first onboard with an IT provider, they should assess your current IT setup, including verifying all assets in use. In this assessment, they should also note the age and use of your equipment and will recommend possible replacement dates.
After the dates are established, IT budgeting will be discussed. Based on this budget and your business’s unique needs, your provider may recommend specific hardware and software for immediate or future replacement.
All this information—dates, budget, and equipment—will be added to your IT roadmap so that you and your provider can plan effectively for the future.
So how does your provider determine what equipment needs replacing and when? They base this on the importance you place on the hardware or software in use (is it vital to your daily business functionality?) and where it falls in the stages of ITAM.
Stages of IT Asset Lifecycle Management
Every IT asset moves through these five stages in its lifecycle.
To begin the procurement process, your IT provider or internal IT department recommends hardware or software to meet your company’s needs or requirements. This equipment or program should not exceed the agreed-upon budget.
Once the equipment is selected, it is purchased and delivered to your location.
Before you can use your new asset, your IT provider or internal IT department will perform an inspection, install the required files and software, and prepare the hardware for use.
As soon as you receive the asset, it is plug-and-play ready.
This process is known as technology deployment.
You have a new asset ready to use! Congratulations!
Now it enters the longest phase of its lifecycle: utilization. This is the stage where the hardware is used for its intended purpose.
During this stage, asset updates and performance will be monitored to ensure it is performing well and aiding productivity.
As hardware is used, it develops wear-and-tear and requires more attention and maintenance over time.
Environmental factors like dust and moisture naturally create decline.
Turning on a device generates heat while turning it off gradually cools it. This constant change between hot and cold can cause parts inside the hardware to bend or bubble over time. Eventually, either the part or the hardware will need replacing.
There comes a point where it's more costly to keep and service older technology than it is to invest in new technology.
Modern technology is also created with planned obsolescence in mind. Planned obsolescence, in conjunction with Moore’s Law, dictates the effective lifespan of technology. Moore’s Law anticipates that computing power doubles every two years. Because manufacturers and developers know this, they plan for hardware to have a lifespan of 3-5 years.
Planned obsolescence means that older hardware can’t accommodate newer software updates. Newer updates are made for faster components not found in outdated hardware.
The combination of wear-and-tear and planned obsolescence eventually brings a computer to the end of its productive lifespan.
Eventually, keeping the asset is no longer productive or fiscally beneficial.
Once an asset is marked for disposal, its data will be wiped. If possible, it will be dismantled for parts and then disposed of according to the environmental laws of your area.
IT Asset Lifecycle Management and IT Strategy
If your IT provider is proactive and puts together a solid IT roadmap, ITAM will be an essential part of your IT strategy.
The benefits of good ITAM include:
- Increased productivity
- Anticipated growth
1. Increased productivity
Reliable technology means fewer interruptions, delays, and lost files.
When you replace computers before they decline, your employees don’t have to worry about slow or unreliable technology. Ideally, they can do their jobs quickly and smoothly without technology-based interruptions.
Of course, one slow computer won’t considerably impact your productivity. On the other hand, a slow or downed server could bring your whole location down until it’s repaired or replaced.
That’s why it’s essential to know the age and use of all assets, not just computers. Vital hardware (i.e., servers, back-ups, etc.) is a crucial part of productivity and should be carefully maintained and replaced.
All of this is considered in a solid IT roadmap and ITAM.
2. Anticipated growth
Part of the IT roadmap process is determining your company’s growth plans.
For instance, let’s say you communicate to your provider that you’d like to double in size in five years. This anticipated growth becomes part of your ITAM, planning the technology you will need to accommodate your new workforce.
Your provider will assess how much IT hardware and software you will need to accommodate such growth without sacrificing productivity in that timeframe.
If done correctly, your organization should have a timeline, budget, and execution plan where no employee is left without equipment.
Some may say this is one of the most important benefits of a good IT roadmap and ITAM: your IT budget is set and scheduled.
Knowing what technology to purchase and when allows you to save accordingly.
Ideally, your IT expenses are mapped out in advance with few or no surprises.
Potential disadvantages of IT Asset Lifecycle Management
Potential disadvantages to ITAM arise if the initial IT roadmap and ITAM are created without consideration of the business’s IT needs and anticipated growth.
If any assets are unaccounted for, this presents a problem. Now there are wildcards at play that your provider did not know existed or know to plan for. For ITAM to work well, all assets must be identified.
If your IT provider is more worried about selling you equipment than meeting your needs, this will cause complications and poor ITAM. If your provider recommends equipment you do not need, this presents unnecessary costs, resources, and frustration.
Ideally, the equipment in ITAM will match your needs with no superfluous hardware or software. Everything aids in productivity.
If ITAM is not set or followed, you will be faced with failing equipment. In a mild case, this causes frustration due to slow loading speeds, glitches, and unpredictability. In extreme cases, a vital hardware piece crashes, and your business is shut down for days or weeks as you wait for a replacement.
Essentially, ITAM disadvantages can primarily be attributed to the provider and client’s commitment to the process and the plan.
Next Steps towards IT Asset Lifecycle Management
IT Asset Lifecycle Management (ITAM) is the process of identifying your technology assets, knowing where they are in their lifecycles, and planning when to replace assets for efficiency and productivity. It’s an essential piece of your IT roadmap.
When executed correctly, ITAM can lead to improvements in productivity, successful strategies for anticipated growth, and help plan and keep an IT budget.
If executed poorly, reactive ITAM can lead to frustrations in the very areas it’s designed to help. Therefore, it’s important to be matched with a quality IT provider and a thorough IT roadmap for your business.
If you are curious about how ITAM is helping your organization, talk to your IT provider and review your IT roadmap. If you do not have an IT roadmap or ITAM plan, it might be time to look for a new IT provider.
For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped clients develop and follow solid IT strategies, including ITAM. IT Asset Lifecycle Management is important in WEBIT’s IT roadmaps and client partnerships.
Schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see if WEBIT Services could be a match for your company’s needs.
If you are not ready to make a commitment, we recommend the following articles on IT strategy: