Enterprise Asset Management - A Definitive Guide

Healthcare Asset Tracking

What is Enterprise Asset Management (EAM)?

Enterprise asset management, or EAM, is software that manages the entire lifecycle of an organization’s technology assets and infrastructure, from purchase to onboarding through maintenance and replacement. Modern EAM delivers a holistic view of the lifecycle of all assets to stakeholders through intelligent dashboards and reports and enables IT teams to automate key management processes with workflows.

Key Components of Enterprise Asset Management (EAM)

EAM systems are the single source of truth for all asset data and documentation and the Modern, cloud-based EAM systems generally share a crucial subset of capabilities, including:

Procurement management

Integrate with finance systems (ERP) and procurement systems to streamline the procurement processes. More modern EAMs also integrate directly with vendor APIs to automatically record asset data in the EAM as soon as the asset comes into your possession.

Work order management and ticketing

EAM usually contains a module for work order management that creates workflows for tickets for IT teams. Work orders may be requested for a new asset (device or software), request for repair, or request to upgrade. The EAM work order management system integrates with major ticketing systems like Jira, ServiceNow, and ZenDesk to schedule and organize for employees and contractors and keep track of completed, pending and upcoming work.

IT asset warranty and license management

EAM helps IT teams track when an asset is in or out of warranty and what warranty terms are for interactions with vendors and OEMs. EAM asset management also helps teams monitor license compliance for software, cloud and SaaS products and helps ensure that an enterprise is not hit with a costly “true-up” for license violations.

IT security

An EAM is the best source of who controls what asset and where that asset is located. For security purposes, a modern EAM tracks the ownership and location of assets as well as whether they are patched, encrypted, and otherwise properly protected.

Auditing and compliance

A modern EAM provides support for IT and other asset compliance and auditing processes, including for insurance and for certifications such as SOC2 and ISO 27001. EAM is also a crucial part of compliance and response for activities related to data and consumer privacy as mandated by GDPR, CCPA and other privacy laws.

Financial planning and ERP integration

EAM systems integrate with financial planning and ERP tools and provide a holistic and frequently updated view of IT spend on assets as well as aggregate hours spent on different IT service activities.

Reporting and analytics

The best EAM systems also offer the capability to analyze asset performance and identify patterns of performance and breakage for physical assets such as laptops and monitors. For virtual and software assets, modern EAM can monitor usage and consumption to inform IT budgeting, resource and purchasing decisions. EAM enables KPI reporting for IT teams. Ideally, this will include easy-to-understand dashboards and reporting for each stakeholder.

HR system integrations for employee onboarding and uptime

Intelligent EAM systems integrate directly via API or connector with HRIS systems such as Workday to ensure that every new employee has the right IT assets in place for onboarding and can become productive as quickly as possible. Similarly, EAM streamlines and automates requests for new equipment and support requests to afford employees maximum uptime and ensure they have all the tools they need to do their job.

What is the Difference Between Enterprise Asset Management and CMMS?

EAM and computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) have key differences. The primary one is the difference in scope. CMMS has a far more limited scope, although it overlaps directly with one portion of what EAM does. CMMS is focused on organizing and managing IT asset maintenance during the operational part of an asset’s life. CMMS is used starting at deployment until the retirement of an asset. CMMS is generally not used for the maintenance of software, SaaS, or cloud infrastructure assets. All of the capabilities of CMMS are contained inside of what a holistic and fully integrated EAM also can do. The biggest difference, then, is that EAM delivers management and analytical capabilities over the entire lifecycle of the asset from procurement through disposition as well as many support capabilities around auditing, compliance, and security. More specifically:

  • A CMMS may be lightly integrated with a few systems and offers a limited scope
  • A modern EAM is strongly integrated with multiple other systems in IT (ticketing, work order management), security (SIEM, threat analysis), finance (ERP, purchasing, FP&A) and HR (HRIS, SSO, employee directory) and even engineering (DevOps).
  • An EAM also functions as an enterprise asset inventory tracking and enterprise inventory management tool, providing a far more holistic picture.
  • An EAM usually includes analytical tools, dashboards, and reporting that a CMMS does not have.
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Why is enterprise asset management so important?

Enterprise asset management is important for multiple reasons across multiple departments. EAM is broadly critical because it streamlines and improves essential asset management capabilities. With EAM, an enterprise can more easily manage, track, assess, manage, optimize, visualize and analyze asset life cycles, utilization rates, security, and compliance. With a properly equipped enterprise asset management software solution, IT teams can more easily fulfill almost any of their core functions. For organizations seeking to effect a digital transformation and move to a more agile way of doing business, a solid, holistic and modern EAM that provides a single integrated view for managing all asset types including hardware, software, SaaS and cloud infrastructure is the glue that allows the CFO, CIO, CTO and CISO to all be on the same page and transform the workflows of their business from analog to digital. More specifically:

For IT teams :

For IT teams, EAM makes their lives easier by automating repetitive tasks, improving the accuracy of their data, and empowers them to set up multi-step workflows with integrations across siloed systems.

For Finance and Management Teams :

For finance and management teams, EAM delivers detailed and rich data on asset requirements that enable purchasing forecasting, improved vendor management, and avoidance of excess licensing fees and penalties.

For Infosec teams :

For infosec teams, EAM servers as the golden database and single-source of truth for IT and IoT asset disposition, location, and status (including patch status, encryption status, and endpoint protection coverage).

For Audit and Compliance Teams :

For audit and compliance teams, EAM automates and streamlines the audit and compliance process, reducing time spent on asset inventories and improving the quality of asset data.

For HR teams :

For HR teams, EAM helps them ensure rapid employee onboarding and maximize employee uptime while minimizing the amount of time that assets were stranded.

By leveraging EAM to put in place best practices, enterprises can gain greater control and visibility into their asset footprint, even across millions of devices, licenses, and cloud deployments. From a functional standpoint, EAM can help IT teams and their enterprises achieve the following:

Centralize all useful asset information :

An EAM (and often its CMMS component) serves as the single source of truth for asset information. It enables IT support, procurement and security teams to quickly lookup where an asset is located, who the user is, what group or unit the asset belongs to, and what IP addresses are associated with the asset. This allows IT teams to leverage ticketing and other systems to automate critical asset management workflows and to make those workflows transparent, accessible and auditable.

Maximize asset utilization and organizational productivity :

Frequent data collected from all assets (IT, software, and IoT devices) allows IT teams to see trends in performance problems or breakage and to better plan for refresh cycles. This allows them to do a better job of maximizing organizational productivity.

Enforce better security and compliance hygiene :

By consistently monitoring for security parameters of assets, EAM enforces security hygiene and improves the enterprise’s security posture. EAM integrates directly with security tools such as SIEM and breach-and-attack simulation to enable security teams to ensure all assets under management are patched and encrypted. EAM can also work with endpoint management solutions such as Tanium to ensure that all assets are protected from viruses, malware, and other cybersecurity threats.

Monitor assets usage and consumption :

Agentless EAM provides remote monitoring that creates holistic views of current and projected asset usage, distribution and status. Agentless means that the EAM is collecting data from existing agents without forcing the installation of another piece of software or beacon on physical or IoT assets. The EAM can gather data and slice it by department, geography, office, manager, or employee type. This reduces information silos and delivers a more accurate asset picture for better decision-making.

Manage asset and infrastructure lifecycles :

Smarter maintenance strategies and upgrade scheduling can lengthen equipment lifecycles for hardware and improve upgrade timing and license management for software. For cloud infrastructure, lifecycle is crucial because golden images on virtual machines are changing so quickly. EAM can work with DevOps to ensure that golden images are consistently updated, cataloged and distributed in a timely fashion.

Improve employee experience :

EAM improves employee experience by making it easier for IT and HR to give them access to the systems they need to do their jobs. Employee experience is an increasingly important consideration as the race for talent intensifies. A modern, holistic and integrated EAM connects via API to vendors, procurement systems, and HR systems to proactively purchase licenses and equipment ahead of hiring plans. A holistic EAM also offers capabilities such as native mobile or tablet apps to allow IT asset support teams to deliver service directly to employees at their workstations rather than force them to bring support issues to IT.

Aside from functional and departmental use cases, a wide variety of verticals need EAM to run securely and efficiently.

Manufacturing :

Manufacturing companies need EAM to ensure that all assets across IT and OT are properly managed, breaking down the silos that separate the factory floor from other company operations in marketing, sales, HR, and finance.

Transportation :

Transportation companies use EAM to monitor asset movements across all types of assets for both IT and transportation purposes. A single integrated EAM makes it possible for IT teams of transport companies to gain a holistic view of their asset estate and orchestrate those assets more effectively.

Retail and eCommerce companies :

Retail and eCommerce companies need EAM to manage the growing diversity of their assets across physical and virtual. These companies are also reliant on EAM for compliance with strict data and privacy regulations like GDPR and the CCPA. eCommerce companies that operate largely in the cloud require robust cloud asset tracking.

Health care :

Health care companies require EAM to properly comply with patient data regulations such as HIPAA and to ensure that all assets touching health information and personally identifiable information (PII). are properly secured, encrypted and patched. Many health care companies are now using IoT to track valuable assets that are increasingly mobile and moving around facilities.

Financial services :

Financial services companies need EAM to comply with regulations such as Gramm Leach Bliley, the GDPR and the CCPA to maintain security hygiene. For digital transformation, financial companies are moving into new types of assets in the cloud and need more robust EAM management to maintain compliance and control costs.

What are the Benefits of Using EAM?

Modern holistic integrated and extensible EAM offers a wide variety of benefits. Enterprise asset management benefits include:

  • A single, accurate and reconciled database of all assets in one trusted system
  • Reduced repetitive tasks for IT teams interesting and tracking asset data
  • Breaking down of information silos across teams to empower holistic, cross-functional workflows
  • Automated workflow creation to adapt on-the-fly to ideas for better ways of managing assets
  • Improved security hygiene and security posture through better tracking of assets and status
  • Improved employee experience
  • Reduced costs through better asset management, smarter purchasing, and planning
  • Reduced time spent and costs in audits and compliance processes

By ensuring all assets operated are monitored, maintained, secured and analyzed, enterprise asset management can both minimize risks and costs and optimize business value. EAM software might alert IT teams that one type of laptop or workstation is showing an unusual amount of repairs. Or an EAM system might alert an information security team when certain assets are logging onto corporate networks or standing up in public clouds without proper security tools in place. EAM is a powerful cost control by automating the purchasing and procurement supply chain to reduce over-purchasing and to provide greater visibility into all the assets in an enterprise, including stranded assets or assets in purgatory for compliance reasons.

Enterprise Asset Management Best Practices ​

Enterprise Asset Management best practices are not that different from best practices for researching any other important technology purchase. IT teams seeking to adopt new EAM systems may wish to take the following steps:

  • Survey all existing asset management tools in use and summarize how they are used, by which department and, across which siloes or asset types.
  • Create a detailed and prioritized list of requirements for any EAM tool to meet the best needs of the organization.
  • Interview the different stakeholders in your organization to get feedback on how they might benefit from an EAM. Then map those tasks to product requirements.
  • Map the requirements against EAM systems on the market and validate that those systems can deliver on the crucial elements of cost, uptime, support, and extensibility (APIs or connectors)
  • If possible, design a POC to test drive a handful of the solutions and interact directly with their customer success teams to ensure fit and delivery on promised capabilities.
  • Once you have selected an EAM, designate and train EAM champions in each team that will be using the system to drive adoption.
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