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Managing Your Organization’s Technology Assets

Originally published at TechSoup.org as Managing Your Organization’s Technology Assets on August 26, 2008.

IT Asset management refers to any set of processes and procedures that help an organization keep track of its technology resources. At the simplest level, asset management is really just inventory control. What hardware and software do you own, and where is it located? In its more advanced forms, asset management can help you better understand how your staff uses technology, with the goal of becoming more efficient and standardized in your purchasing and decision making.

Most organizations use software to help track their assets. A Microsoft Excel spreadsheet will do in a pinch, especially for smaller organizations. However, lots of programs are designed specifically for asset control. A few of these programs are discussed in more detail in the Further Resources section that follows. Among other things, an asset management system should be able to record serial numbers, vendor contact information, warranty information, software license numbers, activation keys, hardware configuration and networking data (for example, IP address, subnet mask, etc).

Keep in mind that asset management is a continuous process rather than a one-time event to help your organization comply with regulations and license agreements. Any time you acquire new software or hardware, it has to be entered into the asset management system. Any time you move a computer or dispose of it, those changes have to be recorded.

IT managers and software vendors sometimes distinguish between hardware asset management and software asset management (also known as SAM or software license management). The term IT asset management encompasses both hardware and software. As you’re doing research, you’ll also see reference to asset management as it relates to finance and investment, which is completely unrelated to the topic of this article.

Why Use an Asset Management System?

Evaluation Criteria

Once You’ve Found an Asset Management Tool

Further Resources

IT Asset Management

  • The Wikipedia articles on asset management in general and software asset management in particular have useful information.
  • Systems management software suites often include tools for managing hardware and software assets. Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager 2007 is one such package and it’s available to many nonprofits through Techsoup. In addition, help desk management applications, network monitoring programs and other IT management tools often contain asset management functionality. So look around. You might already own an asset management tool.
  • TechAtlas and Spiceworks are two free products with robust asset management features. If you’re looking for a standalone, proprietary asset management program, there are dozens to choose from. Examples include SystemHound, Computer Admin, and Numara Track-it.

Software Asset Management (aka Software license management)

  • Microsoft has developed lots of material on software asset management. You might begin with SAM Step by Step. They also created a free tool called the Software Inventory Analyzer that crawls your network and collects information about the installed Microsoft programs.
  • Keyfiler and LicenseKeeper (Mac only) focus solely on software asset management. They appear to be fairly simple tools and might not work well in a larger nonprofit. For a discussion of other low cost techniques for managing software licenses check out this review at Lifehacker, especially the comments thread.

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