Asset Management maturity doesn’t come with age. Remember the Cheez-It® commercials where a block of cheese is being tested for their maturity? In the first scene the cheese tells a joke, and the tester dutifully checks “Not Mature” on his clipboard. After some time passes, the next test shows the cheese politely replying to questions, and the tester, this time, is able to check the “Mature” box.
IT Asset Management isn’t like that.
Asset Management doesn’t mature just by getting older. It requires a well-defined strategy, accountability, an approach/method for delivering results and a daily commitment to improvement.
Let’s look at four key areas to evaluate the maturity of your ITAM program:
- Strategy – What are your goals and objectives for the IT Asset Management program? Are you just tracking assets in a big database? Are you just monitoring the data feeds to and from various sources periodically with no real understanding of the value? Or do you have a set of goals and objectives, a strategy that defines where your ITAM program has been and is going in the next 6 months, 18 months, 3 years?
- Governance – What governance structure is there for ITAM? Governance should support the processes that support the ITAM program. It should also identify the goals and oversee the development the program strategy. It must oversee/support development of streamlined and efficient processes and ensure adherence throughout the organization.
- Business Processes – Do you have any? How are assets received? Is there a process for properly disposing of assets when they’ve reached end of life? How are non-discoverable updates captured, such as status changes or location updates? Are processes documented, uniform across all departments, communicated effectively and reviewed regularly?
- Single Source of Truth - The ITAM tool should be the single authoritative source for all IT asset data within the company, and anyone who needs some asset information should look to source that data from the ITAM tool. Is this your organization? Or do independent asset sources continue to live and breathe throughout your organization, often with conflicting data?
You may be questioning the value of a current ITAM program, so let’s examine a few areas where an established ITAM program can benefit the organization:
- How many different sources of asset data exist across the company? Asset data is similar to HR data in that it is used by many different systems and processes across the organization. When there isn’t a single “source of truth,” not only do groups waste valuable time managing their own set of data but it’s more difficult to integrate their systems with others.
- Software license costs, and the costs associated with noncompliance, continue to present significant risks. Do you know what software is licensed? Do you know what software is installed? How often is it used once installed? How is this driving business decisions? An established ITAM program goes beyond just reporting compliance, instead driving cost avoidance by harvesting unused licenses.
- How much do the IT assets really cost? Is the corporate standard Windows server costing the company money? Related to the answer to this question is understanding how many assets are used by critical applications that may no longer be supported. Imagine the value of knowing exactly how much you were paying a support vendor to breathe life into old servers that are hosting your accounting system. There’s much more to understanding the true cost of an asset than just its purchase cost.
- Does your Finance organization know whether they are accurately charging back for both dedicated and shared IT assets? Do they maintain a separate set of asset data, and if so, how well does it reconcile with the IT asset repository?
- Are assets that reach the end of their useful life properly disposed of in a way that meets government regulations and eliminates risk to your organization? The potential exposure, both financially and to the company reputation, if IT assets are found to be disposed of in violation with environmental regulations is enormous. What about data security? Giving the old desktop to charity is a noble act, but ITAM procedures should guide the cleansing of disk drives to prevent confidential information from falling into the wrong hands.
Too often, an IT Asset Management project kicks off with the boldest of intentions, and within a few years the result does not match the original intentions. In other words, your ITAM processes are just getting old and not better with time.
But all is not lost: redefine the strategy, focus on developing strong business processes across the entire lifecycle, commit to a single source of truth...
Then, hold the program accountable for results - - and the ITAM project WILL provide significant value to the organization.
About the Author:
Richard VanderHoek, Senior Consultant - Evergreen Systems
Richard has been with Evergreen Systems for over 4 years, and has more than 14 years of experience in implementing IT Asset Management programs. He has also managed IT Asset Management programs for two Fortune 500 companies, which allows him to understand the business value of ITAM.