So, here’s the deal. IT asset management (ITAM) as a capability is something that can really help your organization to get a handle on what’s being used within your IT environment. Done well, it can save your organization money (including third-party spend), drive operational efficiency, and mitigate risk.
All too often though, people get bogged down in the detail of ITAM or find excuses (often myths) which prevent them from starting out on what should be a very successful ITAM journey. So, let’s separate the fact from the fiction, with some good old-fashioned myth busting.
Myth 1: ITAM Doesn’t Apply to Me
Real life: News flash people – ITAM applies to all organizations. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your organization does, or if it’s big or small – as a minimum, if you have software, you need to have the appropriate number of licenses in place and are subject to audits from the software vendor (with the associated fines for non-compliance).
Myth 2: ITAM Is Too Difficult and Expensive to Implement
Real life: The reality is that it’s much more difficult and expensive to deal with the outcome of not having the correct ITAM controls in place. Audits, fines, and reconciliation activities can all add additional stress on your IT department.
So, instead of looking at ITAM as a drain on resources, or an expense, change your viewpoint and look at it as an investment in service quality. By putting ITAM in place, you’ll avoid rushed, last-minute preparation for audits, fines, and rework and manual inventory tasks. As not only will you reduce the risk of being under-licensed, you’ll strengthen your service stability as you reduce the probability of service interruptions due to licensing issues.
Myth 3: We’ll Have to Start with ITAM From Scratch
Real life: Look at what your organization has in place already – you’d be surprised at how much ad-hoc ITAM you already do.
Does your service desk have a request fulfillment process to manage requests for new hardware and software? Do your tech support teams use asset tags to keep track of IT kit? Does your finance team have an IT purchasing process? Look at what you have in place already and build up from there.
Myth 4: I Do ITIL So That Takes Care of ITAM Right?
Real life: I’m afraid not. ITIL is an IT service management (ITSM) best practice framework that looks at running your IT and business services from strategy to continual service improvement (CSI). Whereas ITAM is a set of processes (plus people and technology) to manage, control, and protect your IT environment.
ITSM tools manage incidents, problems, and changes and include configuration management database (CMDB) if you’re luck. ITAM tools are dedicated engines that can track your assets and can reconcile software licenses to related services. Trying to compare the two tool types would be like trying to compare Batman with Ironman – two superheroes but from completely separate universes (in this case DC versus Marvel instead of ITAM versus ITSM).
Although some vendors help customers work in a joined-up way by offering tools that deliver both ITAM and ITAM capabilities.
Myth 5: ITAM Has Nothing to Do with The IT Service Desk
Real life: The primary focus of the IT service desk is dealing with incidents and service requests as well as handling communication with end users – so it lends itself perfectly to the ITAM cause.
Service requests are a great opportunity for bringing in ITAM best practice for hardware and software requirements. If you use manual processes to manage end-user IT requests, then your process might look something like this (OK, I might have exaggerated the ping-pong complexity a little – but maybe not?):
- Customer phones IT to request a new laptop.
- IT tells the customer that they need to speak to the purchasing department instead.
- The purchasing department logs the request and then contacts IT for advice on technical specifications.
- IT department replies to the purchasing department while juggling calls, emails, and queue management.
- The purchasing department orders a laptop.
- The laptop arrives and sits in the “goods in” area until someone has a chance to process it.
- The laptop is then sent to IT for configuration.
- IT asks the procurement team what software is needed.
- The procurement team checks in with customer.
- Procurement updates IT.
- IT realizes that more software licenses need to be purchased
- IT or the purchasing department purchase new licenses
- The software and/or licenses arrive.
- The laptop is built and sent to user.
Building request fulfillment into your ITAM processes, and using a self-service portal, means the experience would instead look something like this:
- An end user needs a new laptop. They browse the service desk portal and log a service request. The end user can select the hardware and software specifications from a service catalog. The ITSM tool automatically emails service request reference to the customer, sends an approval task to the person’s manager, and notifies the service desk.
- Once the request has been approved, both the customer and service desk are updated. The service desk analyst views the request and checks existing inventory via the ITAM tool. If the laptop is in stock and the software needed is part of a standard build, with available licenses, then the laptop is built and tested by IT. If new stock is needed, a request is sent to the purchasing team who raises the purchase order and orders new equipment (which is then given to IT to build and test).
- The laptop is delivered to the end user and, after confirmation that all is well, the service request is closed.
I don’t know about you, but I’d definitely prefer the second option!
Myth 6: It’s Too Much Work for Very Little Benefit
Real life: ITAM is actually one of the IT management capabilities where you can see benefits the quickest, and most industry advisory firms put the return on investment in terms of months rather than years.
A small snapshot of the benefits of ITAM includes:
- The ability to manage, control, and protect your IT environment.
- The ability to proactively purchase, build, manage, support, and retire your hardware assets.
- Being able to ensure that you meet software compliance rules and have the appropriate licenses in place.
- That having a benchmark for all your critical service assets means that you can anticipate end-of-life dates, and renew support contracts and licenses automatically saving time, money, and rework.
So, now that I’ve busted the top ITAM myths, what are you waiting for? What other ITAM myths would you like to see busted? Please let me know in the comments!