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Automate IT Asset Data Collection

Acquire and use discovery tools wisely to populate, update, and validate the data in your ITAM database.

You have a mandate to collect data on IT assets in your environment, but:

  • Existing asset management procedures are manual and time consuming.
  • Existing data is untrustworthy. Manual entry leads to typos, and data entry is often delayed or forgotten.
  • Manual audits by the IT team are time-consuming and disruptive.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • If existing IT asset management processes aren’t focused on value, automation will only create useless data faster.
  • It’s difficult to make the case for new tools if existing tools aren’t well used.
  • Understand what data you need before you go to market to buy a tool. Different tools will provide different data, and some data can’t be discovered at all.

Impact and Result

  • Acquire or configure tools that effectively populate, update, and validate the data in your ITAM database.

Automate IT Asset Data Collection Research & Tools

1. Automate IT Asset Data Collection

Understand what discovery tools can and can’t do and identify where they can provide value to your ITAM practice.

2. ITAM Data Dictionary

Identify the hardware and software attributes that must be tracked to answer the questions the ITAM team is expected to answer, the issues related to data discovery today, and the action items to address outstanding data collection issues.

Automate IT Asset Data Collection

Acquire and use discovery tools wisely to populate, update, and validate the data in your ITAM database.

Executive Summary

Your ChallengeCommon ObstaclesInfo-Tech’s Approach
You have a mandate to collect data on IT assets in your environment, but:
  • Existing asset management procedures are manual and time consuming.
  • Existing data is untrustworthy. Manual entry leads to typos, and data entry is often delayed or forgotten.
  • Manual audits by the IT team are time-consuming and disruptive.
You want to implement automation to streamline asset data collection, but:
  • Existing processes aren’t focused on value, so automation will only create useless data faster.
  • It’s difficult to make the case for new tools, in part because existing tools aren’t well used.
  • Some assets will be difficult to discover (e.g. not network connected, or on a secure subnet).
  • Some data can’t be pulled from the asset itself and may require manual data entry or integrations.
  • Fix your ITAM processes first. New tools won’t automatically fix process problems.
  • Identify the questions the ITAM practice must answer, and what data you need to collect to provide those answers.
  • Evaluate the tools you already have, what they do today, where they could be better used, and where they fall short.
  • Identify the missing capabilities you need to build or buy to collect appropriate data for analysis.

Info-Tech Insight
Focus your automation efforts by understanding what data you need before you go to market to buy a tool. Different tools will provide different data, and some data can’t be discovered at all.

Track asset data

Good asset data is foundational to strong IT operations and enhances the value of IT to the business

  • Track and repurpose unused equipment and software licenses rather than buying new.
  • Ensure you remain within the number of software installs permitted in your contracts to avoid costly and disruptive software audits. Provide detailed data required to calculate complex licensing requirements.
  • List hardware due for replacement in the next year to support planning and budgeting. Identify deprecated software that must be retired in the near future.
  • Improve your negotiating position with vendors with a better view of what you own and what you use.
  • Flag devices that could present a security risk (e.g. active but unassigned, unpatched, in the wrong location, etc.)
  • Support incident management with an enriched understanding of the assets involved in an incident (e.g. user, model, warranty, related support contracts, etc.)
  • Provide insight into the complete IT environment to other teams to inform strategic technology decisions, including the office of the CIO, procurement, enterprise architecture, IT security, applications, and infrastructure.
  • Meet regulatory and audit requirements to have a comprehensive inventory of IT assets.
  • And more…

Automate asset tracking to address tough ITAM challenges

  • Discovery tools are a necessary (though not sufficient) condition for creating a comprehensive and accurate view of IT assets.
  • It’s critical not only to have a discovery tool, but the right tool, implemented the right way, to realize the value you expect to receive.
  • Some tools will provide insight into use of installed software or use of particular features. Identifying a lack of use provides an opportunity to investigate whether the license could be repurposed or downgraded.
  • Find vendors that view tracking new technologies as part of their product roadmap and can partner with you to define and develop new ways to track your evolving technology landscape.
  • There’s no substitute for an experienced and capable asset management team, but relieving the team of repetitive, manual work can help address process bottlenecks and quality issues. Manual processes require regular training and typically require constant monitoring for data quality and process adherence issues.

What are your challenges with SAM? 1

Chart: What are your challenges with SAM?

Not all data is “discoverable”

Machine-generated data is just the tip of the iceberg

  • Your computers can’t tell you everything.
  • While machine-generated data is indispensable, you won’t be able to answer some of the critical questions the ITAM team is asked with it alone.
  • Use the insights and the process outlined in this research to identify:
    • What “other” data you need to capture.
    • How it’s being collected, and where it’s being collected today.
    • Opportunities to modernize data collection (e.g. via integrations with other systems).

Combination of machine and human generated data

Start by getting your ITAM processes in order. Then,

Use insights from process improvement exercises to identify the questions you need data to answer.

How do you gather needed data today? What are your current tools’ strengths and weaknesses?

Review features of discovery tools. Identify capabilities required beyond discovery tools.

Acquire and/or configure tools and integrations. Audit your data for accuracy.

00 Identify a working group

30 minutes

Identify a group of participants who can fill the following roles and inform the discussions in this research. A single person could fill multiple roles, and some roles could be filled by multiple people.

The core working group will consist of the facilitator, asset manager, and ITAM team.

Project SponsorAccountable for business outcomes of the ITAM practice. Provides strategic direction and organizational alignment.Jake Long
Lead FacilitatorSchedules and facilitates working sessions. Ensures activity outputs are completed.Eve Maldonado
Asset Manager(s)SME for the ITAM practice. Oversees ITAM tools, processes, and staff. Responsible for building a roadmap to mature ITAM capabilities in line with organizational goals.Eve Maldonado
ITAM teamHands-on ITAM professionals. Provide input on tactical challenges and opportunities.Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent
ITAM tool expertsTechnical SMEs for tools that currently used to track assets. This might include dedicated ITSM or ITAM software, but also discovery tools, endpoint management tools, homegrown spreadsheets and more.Clark Kent, Elphereth Bondy
ITAM data consumersCurrent or potential consumers of ITAM data, who can speak to what they could achieve with better data. Data consumers could be inside or outside IT. Some examples of ITAM data consumers: CISO, enterprise architects, Service Desk Manager, Applications Manager, Procurement, Accounting, Compliance, Facilities, business managers.Marcelina Hardy, Edmund Broughton, Jane Hardy, Effie Schmidt, Goran Bregovic, Reza Mirzaou
  • Organizational context
  • A working understanding of the activities and outcomes in this research
  • A list of participants in your working group for this project
  • Typically, start with the sponsor and asset manager and have them identify the other members of the working group.

Develop and refine ITAM processes first

Automating a bad process will give you a bad process, faster.

  • Review existing processes to confirm how ITAM should be deployed in your organization to meet business requirements.
  • You can then find a tool that helps you streamline a working but manual process.
  • A process review should answer these questions:
    • What’s the scope of the asset program? What do we track, and not track?
    • How do we procure, receive, deploy, manage, retire, and dispose of assets?
    • How do we track purchase records, invoices, and contracts?
    • When do we need to update asset records during their lifecycle to ensure asset data remains current and accurate?
    • Where do we currently store asset records?
    • Who is responsible for updating asset records?
    • Where are there opportunities for automation?

Implement Hardware Asset Management
Develop foundational hardware asset management practices to procure, deploy, manage, harvest, refresh, and dispose of hardware.

Implement Software Asset Management
Develop foundational software asset management practices to manage licenses, deploy and harvest software, and prepare for vendor audits.

Develop an IT Asset Management Strategy
Define a coherent, sustainable, and business-aligned approach to ITAM.

01 Identify the questions ITAM is expected to answer

30-60 minutes per session

To understand what data you need to collect, start by listing the questions that ITAM needs to answer.

Most ITAM practices provide data stakeholders across the organization (e.g. IT, Finance, Procurement) and at different levels of management (e.g. technicians, business managers). Consider running this exercise multiple times with different stakeholder groups.

  1. To break the ice in a brainstorming exercise, it’s useful to provide participants with examples of what you’re looking for. You will find lists of example questions on the next slide. Meet with just the ITAM team to review and refine the list of example questions.
  2. Schedule and run brainstorming sessions to “identify questions the ITAM team could help you answer.” Review the list of example questions to kickstart the conversation. Record the questions as you go in simple, unambiguous language. Ask follow-up questions if you’re unclear what a particular term might mean. Don’t discount any questions as out of scope at this point.
    • Many questions will require data that’s not typically collected by a discovery tool.
    • Set the expectation that you may not be able to deliver answers to all questions and that you’ll need to investigate further to confirm if, how, and when you’ll have the data to answer those questions.
  3. Repeat the exercise, and consolidate and refine the growing list of questions until you have a reasonable working list.
  • Organizational context and priorities
  • A list of questions that ITAM is expected to answer
  • Facilitator, Asset Manager, Sponsor
  • ITAM team
  • ITAM data consumers

01 Example: Questions ITAM is expected to answer

Portfolio Management:

  • How many different end-user device types do we manage across the organization? How many laptop models?
  • How many devices are deployed by department?
  • What cloud-based software has been purchased by the company outside of standard IT procurement processes (e.g. via company credit card)?
  • How many users in a department are using a particular software title?
  • How many different software titles do we have in a particular category (e.g. CRM)?
  • How many license entitlements do we have? Are we over- or under-licensed?

Lifecycle Management:

  • How many devices will be refreshed this year or next year? How many by department?
  • How much needs to be budgeted for the refresh? How much by department?
  • What software will reach end-of-support next year?
  • How many licenses for this software do we own?

Cost and Financial Management:

  • What’s our annual spend on software and hardware? By department?
  • What’s the total cost of assets associated with a particular application?
  • What costs have we avoided by re-using existing equipment and licenses?
  • What is the location and operating status of IT capital assets?


  • Are any devices or software out of compliance with our current standards?
  • Which devices have not been connected to the network for the last x number of days?
  • What is the current status of devices that are authorized to access highly sensitive systems or data?
  • What equipment has been lost or stolen in the last year? What action have we taken to retrieve the equipment and secure company data?

IT Support:

  • Who is assigned this piece of equipment? Who last logged into it?
  • What hardware and software is assigned to a particular user?
  • What’s the average time between request and purchase for software?
  • What warranties cover this piece of equipment? What support do we have for this software?
  • How many deployments of have there been in the last x days?
  • How many laptop deployments took longer than the service level objective?
  • How many devices or licenses of a particular type do we have in stock?

What Else?

Automate IT Asset Data Collection preview picture

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