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The Importance of Effective HAM (Hardware Asset Management)

405092064_85c5e5833d_zAs we all know, there are huge savings to be made on software within an organisation through software asset management (SAM). But what about the hardware aspect? Are there cost savings to be made on desktops, laptops, physical servers etc? With effective Hardware Asset Management (HAM) there is the potential for big savings on hardware, as well as software, thus saving an organisation even more money through ITAM (IT Asset Management).


Hardware Asset Management (HAM)

Hardware Asset Management (HAM) is the management of physical components (desktops, laptops) and computer networks from the procurement stage to the retirement of the asset. HAM needs to be part of organisations overall scope and processes need to be aligned with other IT processes to ensure HAM is a big part of IT.

Just like software, hardware needs to be managed correctly to ensure the organisation is making the most out of the asset. Processes need to be in place to manage the asset from the point of request, to the moment the asset is retired.

Effectively managing hardware assets can also have an impact on the amount of time it takes to fix hardware problems. With the correct HAM processes in place, and a good education and understanding of said processes and hardware asset management in general, end users will see the time it takes to fix, request or procure hardware dramatically reduced. This in turn leaves the ITSM team to concentrate on other areas.


Hardware Lifecycle Management

Hardware assets have a complex life, just like software, but hardware needs to be managed in a slightly different way.

The main stages of a hardware assets lifecycle are:

  • Hardware Request
  • Procurement
  • Installation of company image/software
  • Deployment
  • Use (Any problems? Needs upgrading? Accidental damage)
  • Storage/Not in use
  • End of warranty or maintenance
  • Retirement
  • Disposal

Depending on your country there are a number of money making, legal ways to dispose of old hardware. There are organisations that will buy the old hardware from the organisation, and then sell them on as ‘refurbished’. There are also recycling companies, charity organisations and schools that the organisation can donate their old hardware to.

It is important to remember that you need to wipe any data from the hardware before the disposal of the asset. This needs to be part of the retirement process. Organisations can be fined large amounts of money if their data isn’t removed correctly or properly from hardware assets before being disposed of. Not only that, it is a massive security risk so it’s something that should be done anyway.



Hardware Asset Management (HAM) and Software Asset Management (SAM) go hand-in-hand. A SAM project will not work as effectively or successfully without having HAM processes in place, or some form of HAM management structure.

It is important to remember that with any projects that relate to new software, hardware considerations must also be addressed. This is especially true for any new software that is requested that isn’t on the approved software list. Technical software, or high-end graphics software, can require specialist hardware equipment to run correctly.

SAM processes need to incorporate HAM, and vice versa. As we’ve mentioned several times in this article you cannot do one effectively or properly without the other. Software has impacts on hardware (is the hardware spec powerful enough to run the software?) and hardware impacts on software (legacy software that only works on certain spec desktops). Interrelating the two disciplines and having an overall ITAM process that considers both hardware and software matters is the best way of effectively managing IT assets, whilst ensuring compliance is met for both hardware and software.


Cost Savings

Having HAM processes in place can save an organisation a fortune, both on hardware and subsequent software. Actively and correctly managing hardware assets throughout its lifecycle can lead to a reduction in the amount of money spent on the hardware during its lifecycle at the organisation.

  • Reduced maintenance costs
  • Reduced hardware budgets
  • Reduced software spend
  • Potential to save money through disposal processes

An important aspect is capturing the financial information about the hardware life cycle, which helps the organisation in making business decisions based on meaningful and measurable financial objectives. This also helps organisations to budget for the next years IT budgets in both software and hardware assets, thus giving a justification for HAM and also giving transparency to the IT stakeholders.

Managing hardware assets also helps on the yearly spend on hardware. Having a process in place to manage existing assets reduces the time and money spent on identifying the need for new pieces of hardware. Knowing the specification, location and department of where the hardware asset is allows the service desk to recoup any machines that are no longer needed, or from a user that has since left. It also helps keep a record of those hardware assets that are ‘in stock’ and ready for deployment. Having these processes in place helps save not only money, but also a lot of time on the service desks SLA’s (service level agreements).


Return on Investment (ROI)

By implementing a successful HAM estate you will quickly see a return on your investment, both financially and from a time aspect.


Financial ROI on HAM is a lot like software asset management. There may be big savings and cost cuts at the beginning, but as time goes on those savings will be minimal. With the right processes in place, the right tools and data, ROI on HAM long-term will be a steady reduction in money spent on hardware, and also a reduction on the IT budget for hardware. This money can then be spent elsewhere within IT, or another department altogether to help with the overall success of the organisation.


Having an effective HAM program in place, the organisation will save an awful lot of time on managing hardware assets. HAM processes will speed up SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) for hardware requests or incidents, and will generally make the hardware management a lot smoother. This will also reduce the time impacts on the end user who has a hardware related incident problem, thus reducing any ‘downtime’ they may experience.



Effective Hardware Asset Management can save an organisation time and money as a standalone process, but it is far more effective when incorporated into SAM and MAM (mobile asset management) processes and policies. If you are focusing on implementing SAM, then now is the time to start considering the hardware management aspects if you haven’t already. Processes need to be updated every six to nine months anyway, so make sure you marry your hardware and software asset management processes together.


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About David Foxen

David Foxen is a Software Asset Management expert and enthusiast. He had a vast experience of successfully implementing SAM, SAM tools and also made huge cost savings. A member of the ISO Standards WG21, David is a massive ITAM geek, so uses any opportunity to talk about the subject to who-ever will listen. He believes that the industry needs to share its knowledge and success stories to help the SAM industry mature and become more effective. Always willing to help, his primary goal is to make a difference to organisations and the SAM industry so everyone will know how epic SAM is!


  1. Your point about HAM and SAM going hand in hand is so true.

    They are so tightly integrated on the server side that they should really rename them to EAM, Enterprise Asset Management.

    Changes at almost any level in the technology stack can dramatically change the software licence costs as most vendors now include a hardware component in the measurement of their license costs (CPU, Core, Socket, PVU, etc)

    Inversely there are huge savings to be made on software licensing by reviewing the hardware design of existing solutions. Creating dedicated clusters to certain vendors or products, reviewing the backup strategy or moving specific applications from virtual to physical servers

    Gone are the days when decision around hardware and software could be made independently of each other.

  2. David Foxen says:

    Hi Piaras,
    Thank you for your feedback! I agree with you regarding hardware and software decisions being made independently of each other. They are both of vital importance to each other, so decisions need to be made with considerations for both.

  3. Ken says:

    David, do you have any recommendations or a list of service providers that will provide external professional services helping an organization to get their hands around HAM and SAM?

  4. HI Ken,
    There are are many companies who can help you, just look at the event sponsors or Tool Review on this site.

    I suggest you define your problem first in terms of cost and risk, which vendors are you spending the most money with and what areas are high risk.

    An estimate of risk establishes a budget estimate.

    Then see how ready are you to respond. Is it a resource issue, tools not suitable, time constraint, etc. Now you have an idea what to go looking for.

    With a definition of the problem and a rough budget you can now have a sensible conversation with a service provider.

  5. Salman Siddiqui says:

    Hi David , can you please suggest a group/forum I can join specifically to discuss hardware asset management ?

  6. Snr Consultant says:

    Hi David- I truly enjoyed your exceptional article about SAM and HAM. I’m currently working with HAM but knowing the distinction between the two is quite invaluable as i proceed with my project. Thank you.

    Senior Consultant – Business Process Re-Engineering / Requirements Engineering

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