Were you recently given the role of IT Asset Manager for your corporation – if so, congratulations!
However, while this sounds like a wonderful new opportunity, you are a little concerned because you’re not sure where to begin. You have a general idea about the concept of IT Asset Management (ITAM); however you have no real hands-on experience. Suddenly you are responsible for managing and optimizing tens of thousands of hardware and software assets and you ask yourself, “What do I do now?”
Does this scenario sound familiar? Whether you move into the IT Asset Manager role from within your company or from the outside, you need to understand the roles and responsibilities of ITAM, and where to begin. Let’s examine a recommended approach that will maximize your opportunities for success as a new IT Asset Manager.
Before you get started, it is important to understand the meaning of ITAM. Here is the ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) definition.
Asset Management is all of the infrastructure and processes necessary for the effective management, control and protection of the assets within an organization, throughout all stages of their lifecycle. – ITIL v3
But what does ITAM mean to your organization? In addition to managing and controlling hardware and software assets, what information does the organization and executive team need to know? Do they need to understand the terms and conditions of software contracts? Do they need to know license entitlements, deployments and usage? Do they need to understand the compliance position with their leading software suppliers to manage an increase in audit requests? Are they preparing for significant contract renewals and negotiations? Are they searching for areas to cut costs and mitigate financial risks? It is critical to fully understand the challenges and pain points within your company to enable you to prioritize the initiatives of your ITAM program.
Once you understand the specific business requirements and drivers of ITAM, the recommended next step is to conduct an internal assessment of your ITAM program to gain an in-depth understanding of what the organization is doing today to manage and optimize IT assets. Is there a formal program in place, or are assets managed on an ad hoc basis? How is the current program perceived to be working? It is important to review the ITAM program from the standpoint of people, process and technology.
From a people perspective, identify the organizational structure and skilled resources currently in place. Are the existing resources able to analyze and interpret contract terms and conditions? Are there resources that possess licensing experience with your high-value software publishers? Can your licensing resources analyze, interpret and normalize data, then perform a reconciliation of entitlements to deployments? Do you have tools analysts who can run, configure and fix tools? Finally, are there staff members who understand how to design, document and train staff on ITAM processes? In addition to having the right resources in place, the team must be able to interface with other internal departments such as Finance, Contracts, Legal and Procurement, because each of these departments participates in or influences some aspect of the ITAM function.
You must determine whether there are processes in place to follow an asset through its full lifecycle. If so, are these processes followed and working? In addition to the asset lifecycle, there should be processes in place for asset re-use or harvesting, audit preparation, compliance and contract negotiation, to name a few.
From a tools perspective, it is important to have solutions in place to automate processes so that your ITAM program is not entirely manual. Are there discovery and license management tools in place? What about an Asset Management Repository? Are you confident that these tools are generating complete and accurate data?
Once you have completed the tasks necessary to assess your current ITAM program, you should take the time to document your findings.
Now that you have identified the state of your current ITAM program, it is time consider the vision for the future. What does your program need to look like to meet all the requirements of the business? You must determine if your ITAM organization needs to report on entitlements, deployments, usage, over and underspending to make business decisions, or if you require real-time alignment with changing needs and functions as a strategic asset to support overall business objectives. The latter will involve more time, money and resources, so you will need adequate sponsorship and funding to achieve this level of ITAM program maturity.
Once you have established the future vision, identify the gaps in your current ITAM program. Do you have the right skilled resources to perform the required functions? Do you have processes in place to track an asset throughout its full lifecycle, from the time it is requested until the time it is disposed of or decommissioned? Are there adequate tools in place to generate the required data? Is there integration of processes and tools as well as between the various departments that are involved with and impact ITAM? The findings from this analysis will pave the way for the next step.
The results of the gap analysis will form the foundation of the roadmap that will take your ITAM program from where it is today to where it needs to be. Depending on the complexity or amount of detail that is required, you can either create a roadmap of activities or an in-depth design that functions as a detailed playbook to enhance your ITAM program. Whether an ITAM roadmap or design, the document should address the following issues:
Organizational Structure and People: This section describes the ITAM team and organizational reporting structure, with specific roles and responsibilities, including job descriptions.
Process: This section describes all the processes that need to be designed, documented and implemented. An ITAM Program Design includes instructions on how to build the required processes.
Tools: This section describes the types of tools and functions that are required. An ITAM Program Design will include the process for evaluating tools.
Integration: This section describes the integration of process, tools, systems and data sources.
Communication: This section outlines a plan to communicate the new and improved ITAM program to all of the departments and teams that will be involved and/or impacted.
Kick-off: This section describes a meeting and announcement to officially launch the new ITAM Program.
Prioritization of Projects: It is important to identify initiatives that have the opportunity to demonstrate “quick wins,” such as preparing for a high-risk software audit or contract negotiation. If the initiatives demonstrate cost avoidance or savings, this will help secure increased executive support and funding for the ITAM program to enable continuous improvement.
The next step is to implement the roadmap or design that you created. This implementation can take several months to get everything up and running, especially if you are making significant changes to personnel, process and technologies.
After a few months, evaluate how the new ITAM program is functioning. Test processes to make sure they are working and being followed, and analyze the data generated by tools to make sure it is accurate. Monitor how the employees are adhering to their job descriptions.
If you found areas that needed improvement when you measured how the program was working, document these required changes and assign the appropriate team members to make the adjustments.
As you achieve wins, document and present them to the leadership team to demonstrate that the support and funding they have procured is generating benefits for the company. Create a “buzz” amongst the executives and internal community around all of the efficiencies, cost avoidance, savings and risk reduction that your ITAM Program is generating.
By following the 9-step approach above, you will become a successful and confident IT Asset Manager, and you’ll earn the confidence of both the executive team and the staff responsible for implementing your ITAM program.
This successful start will make it easier to secure the funding your program requires for continuous improvement – and your leadership team will be grateful that they chose you as their new IT Asset Manager!
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