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An Introduction to IT Asset Management

How many laptops do you manage at your organization? What about servers, printers, and monitors? How many software licenses do you have for Office, ServiceNow, your HR systems and communication tools? How are you tracking the chairs and desks you must purchase and replace over time?

 

Even if you’re a small start-up, manually tracking assets in spreadsheets can be a huge drain on your resources, often resulting in errors that cut into your efficiency and impact your accounting. Fortunately, you can escape the tedium of manual spreadsheets by putting ServiceNow’s IT Asset Management module to work. And since it’s already part of the IT Service Management (ITSM) suite of applications, you don’t need to purchase any new licensing if you already own ITSM.

 

IT Asset Management (AM) works by using workflows to automate your IT asset lifecycles, helping you track the financial, contractual, and inventory details of your hardware, devices, and non‑IT assets. Once an asset is deployed, AM records all maintenance activity and enables you to perform regular audits.

 

This is meant to help your organization:

  1. Control purchased and used inventory
  2. Manage the entire asset lifecycle
  3. Improve service to end-users
  4. Achieve compliance with relevant standards and regulations
  5. Reduce the cost of purchasing and managing assets

 

Asset Management vs Configuration Management

I can’t talk about AM without mentioning the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) as well because they are both part of the ServiceNow platform and work hand-in-hand to manage your assets.

 

While similar in nature, AM and the CMDB are two distinct sets of tables, concerned with different things.

 

Asset Management is concerned primarily with finances and logistics. It answers questions like how much was paid and out of what budget? What PO was used? Are there applicable contracts, leasing, or financing data? What are the lifecycle dates? Where’s the physical location?

 

CMDB, also included as part of the core Now Platform, is concerned with purpose and use. It answers questions like how does the asset fit into the infrastructure? What services or functions does it provide or serve? What does it depend on? What depends on it? What is its current configuration? What other devices or systems is it communicating with?

 

In ServiceNow, these two functions are closely related, and you will almost certainly end up using aspects of both. The Synchronizer, a ServiceNow feature running in the background that keeps assets and CMDB elements in sync, will create Configuration Items (CIs) from assets and assets from CIs. CIs are any computer, device, software, or service in the CMDB.

 

So for CIs where a corresponding asset should be created, creating that CI will also create that asset. And if it already exists, it will update any relevant information. This means if your CMDB is populated, then your assets will be populated too.

 

Process Planning

As you are preparing to roll out IT Asset Management and CMDB at your organization, it’s important to carefully organize and create processes for each type of asset you have. Think about how you manage printer toner compared to how you manage your laptops. What about your servers? Each asset will have different procurement methods, maintenance requirements, and disposal processes.

 

Because of this, it’s important to plan out a complete process that considers all stages of that asset’s lifecycle at your organization, and define the touchpoints ServiceNow will manage along the way.

 

Typical Touchpoints

Defining your touchpoints is a critical step in successfully rolling out AM. These touchpoints dictate where ServiceNow will interact with your assets. They also require you to plan and design how you want your ServiceNow platform to manage these interactions.  

 

While there are many different touchpoints that ServiceNow IT Asset Management can address, these are the ones we most commonly see and recommend you consider:

 

Receipt into ServiceNow:

At some point, the asset data needs to be entered into ServiceNow. Ideally, you would automate this process with Discovery or an integration. But you can also import this data or manually enter it into the system.

 

If data entry is manual, we recommend you only require a “shell” record collecting the bare minimum of information required to process like the asset category and serial number.  This mitigates the risk of human error and makes it discoverable by the CMDB to automatically populate any additional information. 

 

Requests from the Service Catalog:

A request needs to be submitted before a deployment can occur. For instance, when HR requests a laptop for a new employee or an end-user who needs to purchase a software package. To streamline the process and clarify what exactly needs to be delivered, you can use your Service Portal to provide a catalogued list of scoped, pre-approved items available to employees.

 

And to avoid duplication of records, make sure the serial number attribute is always filled out. This will allow ServiceNow to update records appropriately rather than create duplicative records.

 


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Deployment:

Deployment occurs when the asset is being placed into production. There will be a touchpoint here because, at minimum, the asset status will change and you’ll likely update the location status as well. This will also affect the associated CI.

 

You can automate this touchpoint in your platform by running a Discovery scan or leveraging the Help-the-helpdesk tool to handle the data gathering.

 

Replacement:

There will always be touchpoints at the end of an asset’s lifecycle. This is because you are replacing an in-production asset with a different one, which requires updating attributes for both assets.

 

This is most commonly seen with laptops and desktops because they have a shorter lifecycle than things like servers and switches.

 

Disposal:

There will almost always be a touchpoint here as well, because you are permanently removing that asset from the company (not from ServiceNow) and, at the very least, the status needs to be updated indicating it’s been disposed of. This is important for your accounting, potential audits, and inventory levels.

 

And the best part of ServiceNow IT Asset Management? If you’re an ITSM customer, you already own it. Rolling this out at your organization will do more than just help you manage your assets through their various lifecycles. It helps you track the total cost of ownership and optimize future spending, connect with your service catalog for easier ordering, and when connected with your CMDB, it can be your single source of truth for your assets.

 


 

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For more information on ITAM, CMDB, and ServiceNow, take a look at our WhatNOW webinar series. In this series, Virteva's ServiceNow experts dive into features and functions you already own, but might not be using to their full potential. Click the button below to access every part in the series.

 

Watch the WhatNow Series

Nick Gustafson
Nick Gustafson
Nick is a content marketer with a passion for helping people work smarter, not harder. He is able to distill the technical aspects of new technology into relevant content and best practices around holistic solutions for people of any technical background.

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