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Managing assets can feel like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole. Asset management automation takes the principles of asset management—the systematic process of developing, operating, maintaining, and selling assets cost-effectively—and adds a layer of automation to enhance efficiency and productivity. Recent advancements in IT and development software have made this solution possible. 

For instance, in SaaS development, automation systems can track and manage code changes and spot inefficiencies that may arise during the development process.

The primary advantage of asset management automation over traditional methods is its ability to reduce errors associated with manual data input and tracking. It also provides real-time updates and analysis, giving business leaders and decision-makers access to vital information promptly.

In this article, I'll break down the top 3 ways automation can save you serious cash, freeing you to focus on the bigger picture. I’ll also share how asset management automation creates a more agile, proactive, and informed business environment. 

What is Asset Management Automation?

Asset management automation uses software to streamline tracking, managing, and reporting on all an organization's assets (physical, digital, financial) throughout its lifecycle. Think tangible assets such as hardware and software and intangible assets like data and information.

By automating tasks such as asset tracking, maintenance scheduling, and compliance reporting, organizations can enhance accuracy, reduce operational costs, and improve asset utilization. 

By leveraging the capabilities of AI and machine learning, asset management automation can also provide predictive data that can be used to anticipate possible challenges and formulate strategies to mitigate any potential asset-related risks. 

Why Does Asset Management Automation Matter?

Asset management is a crucial component of any organization's IT infrastructure. Effective asset management optimizes an organization's asset value by balancing costs and risks against desired performance. It helps businesses monitor assets systematically, budget strategically, and reduce costs. 

Given the complexities of the digital marketplace and increased regulatory environment, its power is even more significant. Robust asset management is not just an auxiliary part of business operations. Automation streamlines this process, making it less daunting and more efficient.

3 Ways to Save Money

Reducing costs is critical for sustaining growth and competitiveness. Consider these three ways in which asset management automation enhances operational efficiency and saves businesses money.

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Reduce Costs from Lost or Mismanaged Assets

Ever lose track of a laptop or have unused software licenses sitting idle? Manual asset management is prone to such inefficiencies. Automation eliminates these headaches through:

  • Real-time Tracking: Automated systems with barcode scanners or RFID tags provide constant visibility into your assets' location, preventing lost or misplaced equipment. 
  • Software License Optimization: Automatic license management ensures you're not paying for unused software. It tracks licenses assigned to each device and identifies opportunities to consolidate or eliminate unnecessary licenses.

Improve Efficiency and Streamline Operations 

Manual asset management often involves time-consuming tasks like data entry and manual tracking. Automation eliminates these burdens, leading to:

  • Reduced Labor Costs: Automating repetitive tasks frees up your staff's time for more strategic endeavors. They can focus on analyzing data, identifying trends, and optimizing asset utilization, rather than data entry or manual searches.
  • Faster Decision-Making: Real-time data access allows for instant insights into asset performance and maintenance needs. This enables proactive decision-making, preventing unnecessary downtime and allowing for planned maintenance schedules.

Prevent Costly Breakdowns

Reactive maintenance after equipment failure leads to expensive repairs and downtime. Automation helps prevent these issues by:

  • Predictive Maintenance: Automated analysis of asset usage and sensor data can predict potential failures before they happen. This allows for preventative maintenance scheduling, minimizing downtime, and reducing the cost of emergency repairs. 
  • Extended Asset Lifespan: Proactive maintenance helps extend the life of your assets. By catching problems early, you can avoid costly replacements and ensure your equipment performs optimally for a longer period.

"From my experience using machine learning for preventative maintenance, I've seen the benefits it offers to companies of all sizes," says Mani Ramaswamy, CTO, Auritas. "By leveraging machine learning algorithms, organizations can significantly reduce downtime, optimize resource allocation, and enhance asset performance. This is made possible by the continuous monitoring and analysis of equipment health data, enabling predictive maintenance actions that preemptively address potential issues before they escalate."

Machine learning algorithms help eradicate manual inefficiencies inherent in traditional maintenance approaches, ensuring that resources are allocated strategically and effectively.

Mani_Ramaswamy_CTO_Auritas

Mani Ramaswamy

CTO, Auritas

Asset Management Automation in Action

Imagine a large company with hundreds of employees and a constant flow of laptops, desktops, and mobile devices. Manually tracking these assets can be a nightmare. Automation can help!

IT Asset Management

  1. Automated Inventory Management – Barcode scanners or RFID tags can automatically register new assets and track their location within the company. This eliminates the need for manual spreadsheets and reduces the risk of lost or misplaced equipment.
  2. Software License Management – Automated systems can track software licenses associated with each device, ensuring compliance and preventing costly overspending on unused licenses. Additionally, automated alerts notify IT teams when licenses are nearing expiration, allowing for timely renewals or replacements.
  1. Predictive Maintenance – Automation can analyze data on asset usage and performance to predict potential failures before they occur. This allows for preventative maintenance scheduling, reducing downtime and repair costs.

Optimizing Facility Management

Asset management automation isn't just for IT departments. Consider a large manufacturing plant with complex equipment and machinery. Automation plays a crucial role here, too. 

  1. Automated Sensor Monitoring – Sensors can be installed on key equipment to monitor performance metrics like temperature, vibration, and energy consumption. This real-time data allows for proactive maintenance, minimizing the risk of breakdowns and costly production delays. 
  2. Space Optimization – Automated space management software can track the location and utilization of equipment within the facility. This data helps identify underused areas and optimize space allocation, potentially leading to space reduction and cost savings.
  1. Automated Work Order Management – Automation can generate and manage work orders for maintenance tasks based on sensor data or scheduled maintenance plans. This ensures efficient use of maintenance personnel and reduces the risk of missed or overlooked maintenance tasks.

Asset Management Automation Examples

Consider this example from JumpCloud’s Serhat Can:

Example

For a Fortune 500 company with offices and data centers around the world, manually tracking all IT assets is virtually impossible. Asset management automation allows the firm to maintain a centralized inventory of every desktop, laptop, server, software license, and network device across its entire global footprint. Automating software deployment means the company can quickly roll out patches and updates worldwide, lowering cyber risk and boosting security. It also increases productivity and cost-savings as predictive analytics can identify underutilized assets that could be reallocated to other regions.

 

Within a healthcare setting that includes thousands of workstations, medical devices, and critical systems, asset management automation enables tracking and maintaining compliance for regulated medical equipment. Automated patching can promptly address security vulnerabilities before exposing patient data. Analytics can optimize asset usage across facilities to determine underutilization and device health; instead of waiting for assets to fail unexpectedly, the organization can budget and schedule replacements based on device performance. For highly regulated environments like healthcare, automated tracking and reporting capabilities can ensure stronger adherence to regulatory requirements and easier compliance.

 

For a large university managing devices and software licenses across campuses, labs, students, faculty, and staff, automating asset management better streamlines and secures the institution. Students can automatically have their accounts provisioned (remotely or in-person) with software loaded on their devices. University assets can be remotely wiped when returned for easy re-issue, and usage data can offer critical insight for better negotiation of licensing renewals.

In another example, NFI Logistics is using Rossum to automate its Accounts Payable (AP) processes. NFI’s AP team processes over 150,000 invoices and credit notes every year. NFI is an agile company, keen to adopt AI to solve manual processes in order to become more competitive and provide a more efficient experience for their customers and suppliers. NFI required Rossum to ingest PDFs via email, split and sort the information, and send the extracted data to Coupa, its downstream procurement system. NFI chose Rossum for its advanced AI capabilities and ability to validate transactional data, ensuring more control over data accuracy, notes Anne Thomas, VP at NFI Industries.

The integration of Rossum with Coupa has streamlined workflows, significantly reducing the amount of low value manual work carried out by the AP team and speeding up invoice processing as a result.

anne_thomas_NFI

Anne Thomas

VP of Finance Systems, NFI Industries

Asset Management Automation Benefits

Automating asset management systems provides numerous advantages that can significantly streamline an organization's operational processes. 

  • Efficiency––Automation reduces the time-consuming tasks associated with managing assets manually. Real-time tracking and comprehension of where the assets are, their operational status, and their specific details, become effortless. This efficiency also extends to inventory management, making it easier to maintain updated records and swiftly identify and rectify any inaccuracies, eliminating overstocking or asset shortages.
  • Risk reduction—Automated asset management significantly decreases the chances of human error, resulting in minimized system vulnerabilities and increased cybersecurity. 
  • System capabilities—Automated systems permit precise scheduling for asset maintenance or renewal, minimizing downtime and productivity loss. They also aid in ensuring regulatory compliance by creating comprehensive audit trails. 

Asset management automation offers tremendous benefits via process efficiencies, reduced costs through optimized asset utilization, better security through automated software deployment/patching, and better resource deployment for strategic initiatives. It allows organizations to focus on core objectives, drive innovation, and maintain a competitive edge by maximizing the value of IT investments.

serhat can

Serhat Can

Co-founder, JumpCloud

Having an automated system saves costs. This is not only through reduced labor hours but also through improved asset lifespan due to better maintenance and routine checks.

Asset Management Automation Challenges

While asset management automation brings efficiency and accuracy, it is not without problems. For starters, the complexity of implementation can be a considerable challenge. Automation tools require technical knowledge and precise configuration to ensure they function correctly. 

Without appropriate expertise, organizations may struggle to deploy and manage these tools properly, resulting in poor asset tracking and data accuracy issues. Moreover, initial setup and ongoing maintenance usually come with high costs, which may be prohibitive for small and medium-sized businesses.

"Asset automation software can be costly, especially if you don't have a large number of assets to manage," claims Jon Molek, CEO & Founder, Best Offer Ohio. "I've seen many people fall into automating processes, even though they could be managed more effectively manually. In my experience, we adopted automation early on, but only because we soon found ourselves needing it to manage a growing number of assets. It ended up saving us time and improving accuracy, particularly in tracking property maintenance schedules and vendor payments."

My advice is that before committing to automation, assess your needs thoroughly. Identify the areas where it would provide the most benefit and consider how much those benefits outweigh the costs. If you see that automation would significantly improve efficiency, then seek out tailored solutions that can help maximize your resources.

jon_molek_Best offer ohio

Jon Molek

CEO & Founder, Best Offer Ohio

Another significant limitation is dependence on technology, which poses a risk of system downtime or failures, potentially leading to data loss or inability to access necessary asset information when needed. Not to mention the cybersecurity aspect. Since information about the assets is stored digitally, it is a potential target for cyberattacks. If the system is not secure enough, highly sensitive data may fall into the wrong hands. 

However, utilizing robust cybersecurity tools can safeguard company assets. These tools track and control activities across various devices, flag potential threats, and ensure the data is secure and compliant with privacy regulations. 

Lastly, while automation tools can handle repetitive tasks really well, they are not designed to cater to specific or unique business needs unless they are extensively customized, which could further add to the implementation cost and complexity.

How to Get Started With Asset Management Automation

Here is a step-by-step process to kickstart your journey with asset management automation:

  1. Assess Your Current State
    1. Inventory: Start by taking stock of all your assets – physical (equipment, devices), digital (software licenses), and financial. Create a comprehensive list with details like type, location, purchase date, and warranty information.
    2. Processes: Analyze your existing asset management processes. Identify areas with manual tasks, bottlenecks, or inconsistencies in tracking and reporting.
  2. Define Your Automation Goals
    1. Prioritize: Identify the areas where automation will have the biggest impact. Consider factors like time saved, cost reduction, and improved accuracy.
    2. Focus: Focus on core tasks like asset tracking, maintenance scheduling, and compliance reporting for initial automation.
  3. Research and Select Software
    1. Needs Analysis: Based on your goals, create a list of functionalities you require in an asset management software solution.
    2. Market Research: Research available asset management automation software solutions. Consider factors like features, scalability, budget, and integration capabilities with existing systems.
    3. Demos and Trials: Schedule demos and trials of shortlisted software to evaluate their user-friendliness and suitability for your needs.
  4. Implement and Integrate
    1. Data Migration: Develop a plan to migrate your existing asset data into the new software system. Ensure data accuracy and consistency during transfer.
    2. Configuration and Training: Configure the software to match your needs and workflows. Train your team on using the new system effectively.
  5. Monitor and Refine
    1. Track Performance: Monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) like maintenance completion rates, asset downtime, and compliance adherence.
    2. Continuous Improvement: Analyze data and user feedback to identify areas for improvement in your automation processes and software configuration.

Additional Tips:

Start Small, Scale Gradually: Don't try to automate everything at once. Begin with a few core processes and gradually expand automation as you gain experience.

Change Management: Communicate the benefits of automation to your team and address any concerns. User buy-in is crucial for successful implementation.

Data Security: Ensure your chosen software has robust security features to protect your valuable asset data.

By following these steps, you can effectively embark on your journey toward a more streamlined and efficient asset management system.

Tools

The toolbox for asset management automation is brimming with diverse solutions catering to various needs. Here are some key categories to consider:

Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) Software: These comprehensive platforms manage the entire lifecycle of physical assets, including facilities, equipment, and vehicles. They offer functionalities like asset tracking, maintenance scheduling, work order management, and inventory control. Popular EAM solutions include IBM Maximo, SAP Asset Management, and Infor EAM.

Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS): Focused primarily on physical assets like machinery and equipment, CMMS systems excel in maintenance scheduling, preventive maintenance tasks, and work order management. Examples include eMaint, Fiix, and Hippo CMMS.

IT Asset Management (ITAM) Software: These solutions manage the lifecycle of IT assets like hardware, software licenses, and cloud subscriptions. They track software usage, automate license compliance, and support asset deployment and disposal processes. Top ITAM solutions include ServiceNow Asset Management, ManageEngine AssetExplorer, and Aspera Asset Management.

Facility Management Software: These tools manage physical spaces and their associated assets. They handle work order requests for repairs, space optimization, and environmental controls. Popular options include Archibus, Planon, and iOffice.

Beyond these core categories, there are specialized solutions for specific asset types, such as financial or digital media assets. Remember, the ideal toolset depends on your specific needs and the types of assets you manage.

More Resources

The future of asset management automation is full of opportunities for streamlined operations, greater precision, and increased profits. Advances in Artificial Intelligence AI and ML are already paving the way for more sophisticated automation solutions, capable not only of managing assets but also of predicting their life cycle, real-time tracking, and risk analysis. 

This technological forecast, coupled with the rise in cloud-based systems, allows for a globally connected and meticulously organized asset management system.

Despite its promise, the future also holds significant challenges, especially concerning cybersecurity as the reliance on digital platforms increases. Necessary measures must be put in place to secure these automated systems and sensitive data from potential cyber threats. 

The future of asset management automation is promising and likely to revolutionize business infrastructure across all sectors.

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By Katie Sanders

As a data-driven content strategist, editor, writer, and community steward, Katie helps technical leaders win at work. Her 14 years of experience in the tech space makes her well-rounded to provide technical audiences with expert insights and practical advice through Q&As, Thought Leadership, Ebooks, etc.