IT hardware asset management

While IT asset management (ITAM) aims to reap the maximum benefit from all digital assets across the enterprise, hardware asset management (HAM) focuses specifically on an organization’s physical components, including laptops, desktops, mobile devices, and computer networks. Today, these devices are everywhere—at home, in the office, and on the road—making a HAM program particularly necessary.

By definition, HAM is a process for organizing and tracking how you buy, use, store, and retire technology equipment. Having a strategic approach in place is imperative: Proper oversight provides better visibility into technology spending and cost-savings opportunities, and is also an important defense against cybersecurity threats.

Managing the hardware lifecycle

A modern HAM program should document the processes and policies in place to manage hardware assets from acquisition to replacement. The stages of the hardware lifecycle include:

  • Hardware research, request, and procurement: Determining your business needs, requesting the equipment, and beginning the buying process.
  • Implementation and deployment: Setting up the equipment and distributing it to users.
  • Use and maintenance: Ensuring that the hardware remains functional and secure while in use.
  • End of warranty: Determining whether the equipment that is nearing the end of warranty is working well, then considering whether it should be retired or replaced.
  • Retirement and disposal: Following a documented process for wiping the device and disposing of it.

HAM advantages

There are a number of advantages for tracking physical IT assets during their lifecycle.

  • Cost savings. With insight into the hardware inventory, ownership, and financials, organizations are empowered to make decisions that reduce maintenance costs and software expenses, and optimize hardware budgets.
  • Higher productivity. While the financial upsides are big, HAM also boosts productivity. HAM processes accelerate service level agreements for hardware requests or incidents, and reduce the downtime that a user in need experiences.
  • Digitized workflows. New digital tools and technologies are available to digitize many tedious HAM tasks, including scanning your organization’s network for hardware assets while storing information in a centralized database.

Win-win: HAM + SAM

HAM implementations tend to work best when closely tied to software asset management (SAM). Decisions about new software acquisitions, for example, must take into account the hardware—or, increasingly, cloud services—that they will run on. On the flip side, new hardware must integrate well with an organization’s existing software stack.

HAM and SAM are both keys to a strong overall ITAM program.