Without adequate information, no one is capable of reliably and consistently making the right decisions. For a military general this means knowing where their troops, equipment, and resources are. For an IT service manager it means knowing where their IT assets are and knowing the relevant facts about them. This means IT asset management (ITAM) is an essential element of the IT service manager’s toolbox.
Accurate ITAM information is the glue that holds the IT service management (ITSM) processes together within an organization. The asset data is the shared source of true knowledge that is essential for processes to work together – like a single clock from which everyone takes their time. Just as a group of people cannot work in an integrated way without a single source of accurate time, also ITSM processes – without a single source of accurate IT asset management data – cannot integrate their efforts either.
The incident, problem, and change management processes rely on IT asset management information to understand the implication of the tickets logged by end users, to help find underlying faults, and to establish the potential impacts – for good and bad – of proposed changes. The accuracy of that data is vital to the effective performance of these processes. In fact, not only must the data be accurate, but those using the data must believe it to be so, or they won’t be confident in its use and this will negatively impact on their work performance.
More technical support areas also need to access that single true source of asset data. Capacity management personnel, for example, are not able to suggest what additional or changed resources will be required unless they have a clear and accurate picture of the current resources. And they will also benefit from the historical records that IT asset management maintains. Spotting how things have changed in the past is the basis of most methods used to predict the future.
That combination of ITAM’s current and historical record is also of value elsewhere, including financial teams. Establishing where and why the organization’s budget has been spent needs accurate IT asset management information – in what and when new items appeared, and how they are being used – so that the IT budget can be allocated to each service in order to derive accurate costing.
Availability and IT continuity management also rely on accurate ITAM information in order to be effective and, above all, they must all be working with the same data if the outputs from the various ITSM processes are to integrate properly into a cohesive, effective, and efficiently-maintained set of IT services across the organization.
And while it’s nice to have useful IT asset data, and for just about every aspect of IT operations to appreciate and benefit from it, good ITAM can have even more important contributions to make. For example, business compliance – with the ever-increasing regulations and industry requirements – is not optional, but rather compulsory, for just about every organization these days. The range of requirements being imposed on industries as diverse as financial, medical, transport, and food production is increasing each year. Meeting those ever-stricter requirements rests heavily on accurate and up-to-date knowledge of an organization’s assets, especially the IT assets upon which depends the data processing and most of today’s delivery to customers.
Then there is IT compliance, particularly with software licenses. Whichever way you look at it, not having IT asset data, and undertaking associated software asset management (SAM) activities, exposes organizations to unwanted risk. If under-licensed, an organization is exposed to make-good costs, fines, and potentially corporate brand degradation. If over-licensed, the organization is wasting business funds on licenses that it doesn’t need. Plus, of course, an organization could be both.
So without adequate IT asset management, organizations will find it hard to survive and impossible to thrive. Fortunately, achieving and maintaining the necessary level of IT asset data coverage and data accuracy is getting easier as modern IT asset management tools speed up detection, and provide a firm base for reporting and connecting with the wide range of processes – both within and outside of IT – that can use asset data to improve their performance and contribution to the organization.