5 Key Guidance Points in the ITIL 4 ITAM practice

InvGate November 5, 2020
- 6 min read

The latest version of ITIL – ITIL 4 – was released in 2019 with a new focus and a different portfolio of IT service management (ITSM) guidance. For anyone interested in IT asset management (ITAM), a key difference was the inclusion of ITAM as a core ITIL 4 ITSM practice. If this IT management discipline is new to you, then ITAM can be described as the service management practice that helps you to maximize value, control costs, manage risks, support decision making, and meet regulatory requirements. In other words, ITAM is the practice that helps you to keep track of your IT asset estate, to ensure that the appropriate licensing is in place, and to maximize potential by managing assets from provision through to retirement. 

To help, this blog looks at the key guidance points within the new ITIL 4 ITAM practice. 

#1: The definition of asset types 

ITAM can cover everything from hardware (including those used for network and voice services), software, cloud services, what ITIL 4 calls “associated services,” and IT asset data. It can also be expanded on to include buildings and documentation if they have monetary value and are used to deliver IT services.  

IT asset types to focus on include: 


  • End-user devices 
  • Network and telecom equipment 
  • Datacenter hardware, including storage, backup systems, and uninterruptible power supplies 
  • Significant peripherals 


  • Operating systems 
  • Middleware 
  • Personal and server applications 

This includes hardware and virtual machines in all environments 

Cloud services 

  • Infrastructure as a service 
  • Platform as a service 
  • Software as a service 


  • We’ve all seen the impact of ransomware, hacking, and data breaches so many organizations are choosing to manage their data as an asset  

#2: A focus on agility  

One of our favourite things about ITIL 4 is that it has adapted ideas from other best practice frameworks such as DevOps and Agile. This can be seen in the third guiding principle “progress iteratively with feedback.”  

All too often ITAM projects stall because of scope creep or the asset database not being maintained correctly. So, start small. Start with your biggest area of exposure, your most expensive software, your most critical services, or the most complicated hardware. Start small and build up. By starting with one product or service you can sense check your ITAM practices and tweak as and when needed so that you get the right fit for your organization. 

#3: The concept of progressive implementation 

In an ideal world, your ITAM practice would have started with the rest of your IT department.  

Back in the real world, however, most organizations only initiate a comprehensive ITAM practice when their estate is getting too large to handle. In this situation, an iterative implementation is suggested in line with the ITIL 4 principle of “start where you are.” 

For example, this could be checking that all laptops issued by the IT service desk have an asset tag. It could be that all servers are labeled correctly with a sensible naming convention. It could be starting to pull together all licensing keys and documentation into one central location.  

Congratulations! You’ve started to build or expand on your ITAM practice. 

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#4: The importance of a fit-for-purpose asset register 

Your asset register is a vital step in keeping track of your assets. ITIL 4 acknowledges there are multiple ways of capturing information – for example, during a software audit, using discovery software, or updating “in the moment” when the service desk receives a call.   

Many organizations have multiple asset registers, causing duplication and rework. It could be that some teams use spreadsheets, and some use the configuration management system (CMS) in your ITSM tool.  

So, work with other practices such as the service desk, service configuration management, service financial management, and supplier management to agree on naming conventions and data capture protocols to prevent conflicting or outdated information. Use automation or standardization where possible to keep the data as accurate as possible. For example, agreeing reconciliation keys and data synchronization rules between the different databases that will do most of the heavy lifting so your ITAM team can focus on exceptions and the other, more complicated tasks. 

When creating or improving an asset register it can be difficult to know what to record and the temptation can be to record as much as possible. The problem with recording “all the things” though is that you have to maintain it. So referencing another ITIL 4 guiding principle – “keep it simple.” Capture the basics. We promise you can go back and revisit things in time but, for now, we’re aiming for good, not perfect.  

#5: Managing across the asset lifecycle 

One of the key indicators of a successful ITAM practice is the effective management, control, and protection of your service area. A key part of this is the asset lifecycle. Here are some things to focus on for each stage. 

Planning and budgeting 

Work with the various business areas to identify what’s needed, capture requirements, and agree on costs. Create a template for this approach so that it can be reused, and your key stakeholders get a consistent experience when planning or asking for new equipment. 


Where possible work with the IT service desk and procurement teams to manage all requests through a central process so that nothing is lost or duplicated.  


When deploying assets into the live environment, work with the change, release, and deployment practices to ensure that any new assets are approved safely and with the correct testing. 


This is the fun part of the asset lifecycle where you look at how you can optimize service levels and costs. Things to look at include: 

  • Having a store for frequently used equipment 
  • Having a central repository for installing software 
  • Making sure that any SLAs are updated with the correct asset information  
  • Embracing continual improvement so that small tweaks to functionality or improvement can be made over time 
  • Working with configuration management to identify dependencies for more-effective incident or change impact analysis  


This is retiring assets that are no longer required. Other triggers could include the end of a licensing agreement or a change of supplier. It’s also a good idea to build in some final checks before moving to the disposal stage to prevent any unwanted disruption. 


It’s important to have a process for disposing of IT equipment responsibly be it reusing or by using a registered waste disposal company (remembering to ensure that all confidential data has been removed first).  

So, that’s five key guidance points in the new ITIL 4 ITAM practice. What would you add to this? And what would offer as tips? Please let us know in the comments. 

Read other articles like this : ITIL, ITAM

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