“Collaboration” might seem an overused management buzzword in IT right now, but there’s a reason why – we will often need to work together, across team and even line-of-business boundaries, to deliver better business outcomes. And IT asset management (ITAM) is definitely an area that will be hugely influenced, in success terms, by the level of effective collaboration involved.
To help with your ITAM initiative (or program), this blog offers up five tips for leveraging collaboration when starting out or improving your management of IT assets.
1. Think of ITAM Introduction/Improvement as an Organizational Change
If you’re just starting out with ITAM, or looking to formalize and improve upon your current ITAM activities, then you’re enacting a change. However, it’s not just a process-based change, or a technology change, it’s most likely going to be a change to the way of working, i.e. an organizational change.
And organizational change can be difficult, with this potentially amplified as the change impacts more and more people and teams, especially when organizational boundaries are crossed. For instance, in the case of ITAM, needing the cooperation of other lines of business such as procurement, finance, and human resources (HR).
Thus, much of the collected wisdom about better organizational change management (OCM), including reducing the resistance to change, apply to ITAM. For instance, the OCM tools and techniques that help with early involvement, effective communication, gaining buy-in, initial education, and continued guidance. Plus, the need for everyone involved to know the “what’s in it for me” before they will embrace the change.
Then there are other OCM, and project-management, best practices related to the rubber hitting the road, such as starting small and building on successes as you progress.
2. Agree Key Elements Across Organizational Boundaries
You don’t have to be a genius to understand that if you create something in your ivory tower, then it’s going to be hard to sell whatever it is to others (who don’t have access to that tower).
So, what do you need to agree? The short answer is just about everything, even if that agreement doesn’t require a high level of involvement by everyone concerned. And it’s important to consider this required involvement, and potential need for collaboration, at the outset.
Take the definition of what ITAM is (and isn’t) as a good example. On the face of it – after all it is called IT asset management – ITAM might appear to be an IT thing. But, as already alluded to with the mention of procurement, finance, and HR, there’s a need to fully understand the full scope and requirements for your ITAM capabilities – including the corporate risk management and governance requirements – before committing any definition and operational parameters to paper (and circulation).
Plus, there’s always the possibility that the inclusion of more “players,” as part of the collaboration, will open up additional use cases for the ITAM processes and data and the benefits these will realize.
3. Create Business-Level Metrics and KPIs
An IT organization might be proud of, potentially even excited by, the fact that their IT asset database is 95% accurate. But in the absence of additional, business-level metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) – plus critical success factors (CSFs) – the response of “95%? So what?” wouldn’t be out of place. Because database accuracy alone doesn’t make for a better business.
There is, of course, a need for database accuracy; but the real value of database accuracy only comes when the data it holds contributes to some form of business-level success. And to measure this success will require collaboration – from understanding the status quo – the starting point (and baseline) – to crafting a portfolio, or basket, of metrics and KPIs that ensure ITAM activities are delivering against a potentially wide spectrum of vested interests (and requirements).
Importantly, this collaboration around performance measurement is required upfront – as part of the initial planning. Why do we need to state this? Because, unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for metrics to be decided upon after the fact – and not only can this make it potentially more difficult to agree them, but it has also missed the opportunity to agree baselines and suitable short-term success targets.
4. Balance the “What’s in it for me?”
It’s very unusual in life for there to be winners without losers. Or for everyone to get everything they want and need. It’s the other “C” word: Compromise.
While collaboration across organizational boundaries will help everyone get closer to what they need from ITAM, there’ll often be instances where some, if not all, of the people/roles involved need to compromise for the sake of the business as a whole.
For example, IT support might want the procurement team to move extremely quickly – to help meet modern-day end-user expectations of the speed of new service provision (which is now often next day delivery). Whereas finance might want to ensure that costs are minimized (or at least optimized), and those responsible for governance might need to ensure that the business isn’t left exposed to any risks associated with rapid order processing. For instance, software license management errors.
Ultimately, your ITAM policies, processes, and practices need to find the right balance across the various business stakeholders.
5. Pin Down ITAM Roles and Responsibilities
Your ITAM program will have a lot of moving parts. With those parts spread across various lines of business and teams within the organization. And yes, it’s an obvious thing to state – those moving parts will not always work well together, to create a well-oiled ITAM machine, if there hasn’t been agreement on, and a clear definition of, the involved ITAM roles and responsibilities.
For example, who’s responsible for holding the proofs of license in a manner such that they’re easily accessible (for use within software vendor audits)? We bet you can imagine a scenario where some are held by procurement, some are held by IT, and some are lost to the wind.
Thus, the agreement, documentation, and communication of the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved (and not just any core ITAM team members) will help ensure that expectations are set and the ITAM program works as intended.
So, that’s our five tips for using collaboration to improve ITAM success. What would you add? Please let us know in the comments.