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Asset Management

Asset management integrates the physical, technological, contractual, and financial aspects of information technology assets.

An IT asset is any company-owned information, system or hardware that is used in the course of business activities. Assets can be many different types of items in a company.  ServiceNow has over 126 categories of assets available in their base system.

Benefits of Asset Management

  • Control purchased inventory and usage while reducing costs
  • Manage the asset life cycle from planning to disposal of strategic assets
  • Achieve compliance with relevant process, standards, and regulations
  • Improve the end-user experience with faster procurement and deployment of assets

Difference between Asset Management and Configuration Management (CMDB)

One of the confusing parts of ServiceNow is why there is a CMDB and Asset Management. The reason why can be summed up in this statement:

Asset management and configuration management (CMDB) are related, but have different goals. Asset management focuses on the financial tracking of company property. Configuration management focuses on building and maintaining elements that create an available network of services.

Once you have that CMDB framework, use Asset Management to make it even more valuable. Put a cost to Configuration Items, make sure servers and laptops are deployed and retained properly. Build the CMDB using discovery, but pay with it using Asset Management. 

What is the difference between an Asset and Configuration Item (CI)?

Asset

  • Track the financial aspects of the item purchase, cost, and depreciation of the item.
  • Contracts, Maintenance, Warranty, and Licensing tied to the item.
  • Inventory tracking is expected to meet obligations.
  • Document the status of the item, build, and decommission status.

Configuration Item

  • Record the technical attributes of the item
  • Relationships to other Configuration Items
  • Associated with an Incident, Problem, Change, or any task.

Read more about how Assets and Configuration Items are synchronized:

GETTING STARTED

Identify Assets

Another year of inventory soon!

I grew up in my parents hardware store in central Minnesota. As soon as I was able to count, I was participating the yearly manual counting of every item in the store. 

For some reason, I enjoyed the process of counting and learning what every item did in the store.   I had my first wife try it one year...she did not have the same enthusiasm.

The good news is that for IT departments, there are modern innovations to really help automate this process:

After you get the data imported, you can start to analyze it.  Asset Management has a starter homepage available for usage.  It is located in the Left Nav Bar under Asset > Overview. Roles that can view the Asset Overview page are admin, asset, and sam.

Asset Overview

Categories, Models, and Classes

If you are using ServiceNow Discovery, a lot of Asset Management is created for you.  However it often requires some additional configuration.  Models in particular sometimes require some normalization and refinement so you can get proper reports.

  • Models. Models are specific versions or various configurations of an asset, such as a MacBook Pro 17".
  • Model Categories. Categories of asset models can be items such as computers, servers, printers, and software.  Model categories associate CI classes with asset classes. The model category configuration determines if ServiceNow should create an asset from a CI and if so, what class of asset. This is straightforward how the Model Categories work. If you a certain CI, for example, Computer [cmdb_ci_computer], to create and update an related asset, it must have a model category.
  • Asset Classes. The default asset classes are Hardware, Software License, and Consumable. These general classes can be used to manage most assets. Creating a new asset class requires defining a new table and creating a corresponding application and module, then adding the new asset class to new or existing model categories.  Read about it here

Model Categories

Models

Table Structure

Asset Management uses a variety of tables and it is tough to keep up with all the tables involved.  The most important table to remember is the main Asset [alm_asset] table. However reading about the tables helps show how Asset Management works:

  • Asset [alm_asset]: Stores general, financial, and contractual information about assets.
  • Asset Entitlement [alm_entitlement_asset]: Enables ServiceNow to categorize the Asset Entitlement table and enforce how entitlements behave.
  • Consumable [alm_consumable]: Stores data about consumable assets (previously known as parts).
  • Default Stockroom [alm_user_stockroom]: Stores the relationship between a user and their default stockroom.
  • Fixed Assets [alm_fixed_assets]: Stores fixed assets, which are containers that can hold multiple assets.
  • Fixed asset to asset [m2m_fixed_asset_to_asset]: Stores associations between fixed assets and assets.
  • Hardware [alm_hardware]: Stores general, financial, and contractual information about hardware assets.
  • License Entitlement [alm_entitlement]: Stores entitlements that permit users or machines to use a software license.
  • Software License [alm_license]: Stores general, financial, and contractual information about software license assets.
  • Stock Rule [alm_stock_rule]: Transfers stock or sends an email message to the asset manager when a specified asset drops below a set threshold.
  • Stockroom [alm_stockroom]: Stores information about stockrooms.
  • Stockroom Model [alm_m2m_stockroom_model]: Tracks all models that have ever been stocked in a stockroom. This table is automatically populated.
  • Stockroom Type [alm_stockroom_type]: Stores general information about stockroom types.
  • Transfer Order [alm_transfer_order]: Contains data about transfer orders, including the state and stockrooms.
  • Transfer Order Line [alm_transfer_order_line]: Contains data about individual assets being shipped with a transfer order.
  • User Entitlement [alm_entitlement_user]: Enables ServiceNow to categorize the User Entitlement table and enforce how entitlements behave.

ASSET MANAGEMENT PROCESS

After you get the initial data imported and updated the best you can, then you can begin using asset management in your daily work!

Asset Management Process

Asset Management Process

Acquisition

If you are hooked up to Discovery or another integration to import assets, this setup is much easier for you.

You can create assets manually if you don't have an automatic asset creation or have assets that are not automatically discovered.

You may also use optional Purchase Order and Receive Assets functionality to order assets from an vendor and keep track of that within ServiceNow.

Asset Detail

  • Financial. Capture financial information such as invoicing and cost center chargeback.
  • Disposal. Track disposal reasons, resale price, and retirement date.
  • Depreciation.  File the depreciation information on the asset.
  • Contract.  Leases, Warranty, Support Group and contract info
  • Entitlements.  Software licenses and other hardware entitlements tied to the asset.
  • Other Asset Relationships.  See consumables like keyboards, monitors, and peripherals tied to the asset.

Manage assets by counting software licenses, viewing assets that are in stock, setting asset states and substates, and analyzing unallocated software.

Deployment

Acquistiion and Deployment blend together at times.  However there is a point when you adjust the asset state and mark it "in use".  

Along with simple state field adjustments, the process for deployment may be dramatically different (and complex) for companies.  Some may use a workflow or orchestration to update other systems, generate tasks for people to complete tasks in the deployment process.  It can be as complicated as you want it.

Utilization

Once you have the asset ready to be used, you can use a variety of method to track utilization.

  • Transfer Orders. Transfer orders move assets between company stockrooms.
  • Stockrooms. Stockrooms are places to which assets are assigned.
  • Stock Rules. Stock rules are defined criteria stating that when inventory of a particular asset in a particular stockroom reaches a specified threshold, a certain number should either be transferred from another stockroom or ordered from a vendor.

Maintenance

There are many different tasks to keep your asset management system with reliable data and great functionality.  Here are couple tips:

  • Asset Sync. Assets and Configuration items will likely need adjustment in the sync process. Read about that here
  • Focus on Quality, not Quantity. It is often tempting to push everything you have into asset management. However this doesn't necessarily insure maximum value.  It will make things difficult to find and the user experience will suffer.  Also it is advised to only create an asset when you are using it for financials. I say to concentrate your efforts on making each asset great, not a great number of assets. 
  • Watch Update Frequency and Sequence.  If you have multiple discovery sources and integrations that feed into Asset Management, it is good to watch how they update field data the order.  In some cases, discovery sources may compete with each other, flipping field values back and forth with each update. 
  • Avoid Duplicates. One of the worst things that can happen in ServiceNow is duplicate records.  They are difficult to remove and cause havoc with reporting and ease of use.  Read how you can look for it here: Duplicate Record Scripts

Retirement

The opposite of the deployment phase, retirement may involve some state field changes and different processes to retire and decommission the asset.  Like deployment, this can also be as complicated as you would like.

MORE INFORMATION

Here is an additional video on Asset Management