Just about every aspect of IT service management (ITSM) requires a balance of people, process, and technology. This is especially true with IT asset management (ITAM).
While modern ITAM technology is comprehensive, sophisticated, and highly configurable, that software needs to be matched to the best process for the specific organization, and the people establishing and operating IT asset management must focus on delivering value to the business, from what is at its heart, a technical process.
This is no simple task since it requires an understanding of how the IT asset management process will benefit others, and therefore a degree of empathy for a wide range of roles that will use the asset data and information.
So what can you do to increase your chances of IT asset management success?
Modern IT asset management technology can be set up to capture the widest possible range of data and decompose it to the finest granularity. So resist the temptation to push the technology to its limits without an understanding of how the detailed asset data will be useful. Instead, be driven by what data is actually going to be used, and do not collect data at a significantly finer level of detail. The more detail that is captured, the greater the ongoing overheads of maintaining, analyzing, and retaining the data will be. And spotting trends and relevant knowledge within the IT asset data will be significantly harder.
In order to manage the above, balance the technological focus with less technical people. In short, do not allow someone who loves to collect data control the design of the IT asset management process. There is nothing wrong with the “train-spotting” kind of person who loves to collect data just because they can, but do not encourage them to do that with your ITAM resources.
The last data collection tip – when in doubt, do not create new ITAM categories and new levels of asset breakdown. Only do so when you can see how the extra data will deliver useful information and valuable knowledge that can improve the way other processes within the organization perform. That, of course, requires you to be aware of where the IT asset data is used, and how it’s used.
The major value of an IT asset management process lies in the creation of data that’s held in one place but used in many. This is a single instance, or source, of ITAM truth, that’s believed to be accurate by the range of processes, and teams, that benefit from it. It should be a key priority when establishing the ITAM process and, even more importantly, the ongoing maintenance and improvement of it must support the whole range of users, and not be changed or molded to just one part of the organization’s ITAM needs. Keeping the widest possible range of confidence in the IT asset data’s accuracy and relevance is more important than exactly meeting one team’s needs. Thus, compromise is essential (which leads us to the next tip).
ITAM is a major exercise for an organization. To deliver the very best value, it must be a compromise across a range of requirements. There are many options and questions to be asked in setting up your ITAM, and even experienced IT asset management practitioners will get some of those questions slightly wrong the first time – since every organization is a bit different, and since the answers always depend on the specific organization and those differences. Expect to learn from your early efforts. Run one or more pilots and learn from them, incorporating the lessons learned into the wider ITAM implementation.
As with all process and technology implementations, first establish a list of everyone you wish to benefit from the exercise and ensure that you gather their requirements, constraints, hopes, wishes, and fears. Once will not be enough – you’ll need to keep on doing so, since they will experience change and those changes will affect the best ways to get your ITAM as near perfect as you can. This is potentially harder than with most other ITSM processes or tool implementations because of the wide range of users of the IT asset management process output. Be aware of how much effort it will take, and take the time and effort needed to get it right.
Because ITAM is delivering that single truth to a range of other processes and teams, the value can too easily become invisible to the organization’s CFO. Put – and keep putting – effort into establishing the actual value delivered by ITAM. This probably means working with the internal users of the IT asset data and documenting the benefits that they get from it. And to show that the benefits are worth having, you’ll need to be able to show what ITAM is costing. So be sure that you can gather and show the total costs of ITAM: tools, people, overheads, and anything else consumed by the initiative.
Despite the need to provide that single, central truth, it’s still perfectly possible to adapt the level of ITAM coverage across an organization. For example, the level of detail does not need to be exactly the same everywhere. If it’s felt, and justified, that more detail would be worth the cost for the components of key critical business services, then that’s good practice. Similarly, perhaps more frequent IT asset data updates are needed in the more volatile parts of the business or the infrastructure.
Although the IT asset management process and technology belongs to the ITAM team, data entry and usage will be spread widely across the organization. Ensure that you are aware of who needs access and make sure that the user interface is suitable for such a wide spread of users. It’s far too easy to build a sophisticated ITAM system that is not intuitive for many of the less technical people who will need to use it.