Hardware asset management (HAM) describes the processes, tools, and strategies of managing the physical components of computers and related systems.
A hardware asset is something of an umbrella term that describes any
tangible, physical company technology asset, including those currently
in use, those in storage, and support equipment.
With this definition in mind, hardware assets are generally grouped into four primary categories:
End-user devices refer to any company hardware used directly by employees in their day-to-day work. This includes computers, tablets, smart phones, SIM cards, and more. Hardware assets also encompass personal devices used to perform business tasks within an organization.
Network and telecom hardware is support equipment that helps facilitate digital and analog communication. This includes routers, load balancers, switches, and telephone- and video-conferencing systems.
Peripherals are the significant support equipment found throughout
the modern-office environment. Peripherals may include scanners,
printers, monitors, keyboards, headsets, projectors, and even cables and
Bear in mind that the modern workforce is not exclusively confined to the office; it extends to remote workers who operate out of their homes. Hardware asset management needs to be able to meet the needs of the remote workforce, and to account for the physical equipment they use to perform their jobs.
As previously stated, HAM covers the entire service-life of the hardware asset. This lifecycle can be described in six parts:
Organizational hardware needs are defined by a variety of factors,
including priorities, customer and business data, incidents, compliance,
and budget. But all of this really comes down to two specific
questions: What hardware is necessary to fulfill the business need? And,
how much funding is available?
In the request stage of HAM, these questions are addressed, hardware solutions are identified, and requests are submitted.
With budgets finalized and hardware selected, the next step in the
lifecycle is to fulfill the hardware requests. To do this, organizations
need to understand which vendors are available, what levels of
technical and warranty support they offer, and whether their hardware is
compatible with other IT assets within the company.
For businesses that operate within a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, the fulfillment stage helps ensure that all personal devices that may be used for company work have authorized, secure access to internal systems, are logged by the corporate body, and are accounted for in terms of financial reporting.
After tagging the asset for future device servicing and organization,
it is ready to be configured and deployed. For end-user hardware, this
step may include having an employee ‘sign out’ the device, as well as
read and agree to any established acceptable-use policies.
This stage also includes transporting the asset from storage to the designated work area (including any remote-work environments), configuring the asset, and integrating the asset with any other relevant technologies.
Once hardware has been deployed, asset managers must now do what they
can to mitigate risk and ensure effective hardware performance. This
involves creating a comprehensive view of the entire hardware asset
estate through ongoing monitoring.
Monitoring deployed hardware allows managers to keep a closer eye on aging resources, prevent assets from showing up in unexpected places on the network, and eliminate risks from outdated software. Integrating with IT and Security Operation workflows improves monitoring capabilities and accuracy.
Hardware naturally requires regular maintenance to ensure ongoing effectiveness. This stage of the lifecycle encompasses any scheduled maintenance, updates, or upgrades, as well as any unscheduled emergency repair work.
During this process, HAMs have the responsibility of reviewing the state of the hardware in question to determine whether the asset may need to be recycled, reassigned, or retired.
As the asset reaches the end of its service life, is unrepairable, or
includes unpatchable security vulnerabilities, the final step is to
decommission it from active use. Alternatively, in the case of BYOD
equipment, hardware will need to be retired from service in the event
that the employee who owns it leaves the company.
The status of the asset will need to be updated within company systems, and any and all corporate information will need to be wiped from the device. After which, the device may be returned, sold, donated, recycled, or properly disposed of.
Keeping an accurate catalog of all company hardware—in use as well as in storage—makes it easy to track equipment and identify missing hardware. Asset tagging, assigning ownership, and tracking the asset’s location give organizations the information they need to mitigate risks associated with incomplete asset knowledge. It also allows HAMs to identify which assets are idle and thus more likely to be targeted for theft.
Without an established hardware asset management strategy, the responsibility of handling and keeping track of equipment often falls to employees. Without established HAM best practices, these employees may rely on inefficient, ineffective, or time-consuming processes. Proper asset management not only ensures accurate cataloging and distribution of essential equipment, it also frees up employees to make more efficient use of their time—predicting asset issues before they occur, and allowing organizations to automate many asset management processes.
Hardware management best practices and well-organized maintenance and upgrade schedules helps ensure that employees are using company equipment properly, and are getting the most out of it. At the same time, accurate asset inventories protect organizations from overspending, reducing overall spend and getting more for their hardware investments.
It’s difficult for security teams to protect what they can’t see. Effective HAM provides a complete listing of all hardware assets accompanied by relevant version information. This allows security teams to create complete coverage strategies, while also identifying assets that may be vulnerable to emergent threats. Working in conjunction with ITAM, hardware asset management can also identify unapproved hardware assets and ensure compliance with established policies and regulations.
Perhaps most importantly, HAM gives businesses complete visibility and control over the asset lifecycle. For every piece of equipment, asset managers have easy access to product and vendor details, usage history, current ownership and tasks, and more. Relying on this data, HAMs can then make more-informed decisions related to vendor contracts, servicing, replacements, and more.
Taken all together, these benefits provide a clear advantage for organizations that invest in effective hardware asset management. Top-quality HAM systems and strategies quickly pay for themselves, both in terms of time and money.
Cost savings are a part of essentially every benefit associated with hardware asset management. Here are several ways that HAM helps reduce company spend:
Hardware management is an essential, yet often-overlooked component to business success. Now, businesses can place HAM in the spotlight, with ServiceNow Hardware Asset Management. With advanced automation technologies, easy-to-use dashboards, and powerful audit and analysis tools, any organization can gain deep visibility and control over their physical assets for improved effectiveness and productivity.
The ServiceNow Hardware Asset Management solution provides complete end-to-end asset visibility, provides businesses with accurate insights to reduce asset costs and risk, and incorporates automated asset workflows to ensure an effective hardware asset management lifecycle. Available as part of the ServiceNow IT Asset Management toolset, Hardware Asset Management eliminates the daunting complexity of managing and maintaining the equipment businesses depend on.
Automate the end-to-end lifecycle for software licenses, hardware assets, and cloud—on one platform.