As an ITAM consultant I have been helping organizations with IT Asset Management process improvement and HP Asset Manager implementation for more than 10 years. Within this capacity I have primarily served as an architect and PM making sure the implementation of technology improves, enhances and facilitates sound asset management business objectives and processes. Based on this experience, I wanted to share my perspective on some of the keys to the successful implementation of ITAM software along with some of the common pitfalls. This is not an exhaustive list, but understanding and applying these concepts will help ensure your ITAM implementation is successful.
First and foremost it is important to understand that implementation of ITAM software in and of itself will not achieve desired results or business value. This is obvious to most organizations that are looking to invest in an ITAM tool, but nonetheless worth mentioning. Often organizations mistake IT discovery for IT Asset Management. Automated discovery of your computing environment is one aspect of IT Asset Management, but alone will provide little value.
IT Discovery misses what I believe is one of the most critical aspects of IT Asset Management: that being coordination between IT procurement and IT asset management. Organizations must understand that asset management begins when assets are acquired/procured and not when they are deployed on the network. Asset Management begins when you purchase and take ownership of an asset. Your purchasing department must not only be involved in any ITAM initiative, but should be a key stakeholder, if not the business owner of the entire ITAM lifecycle. This doesn’t necessarily mean your purchasing department will have to invest significant time and resources, but they will need to be involved in the process. If procurement is not interested or does not want to be involved in the implementation of an IT Asset Management solution, I would suggest not bothering to make the investment in a tool-only solution.
Over the past couple of years it seems that Software Asset Management (SAM) is the primary business driver for organizations looking to invest in ITAM applications. SAM is the process of making sure you are in compliance from a licensing perspective and that you are not at risk of incurring penalties if you are audited. At the same time, SAM seeks to minimize software costs by purchasing only what is required. This interest has been driven by increased vendor audits as software companies look for ways to increase profits in a stagnant economy. SAM can be fairly complex as software vendors continuously adjust licensing models in an effort to maximize profits. When approaching SAM I believe three things are critical.
First, start small. Trying to get a handle on compliance for every software title in your organization at once is not realistic. You should target those software titles or vendors that will provide the most potential value. What do you spend the most on? What has the highest risk of audit and potential penalties, or where could you potentially reduce your investment?
Second, define clear processes for software purchasing and capturing information on software purchases as they occur. SAM involves comparing two sides of an equation (what you own or are licensed for vs. what you are actually using). Discovery can only help with the second half of this equation. Knowing what you own goes back to ensuring your purchasing department is involved in the deployment of ITAM software and that processes are in place to capture the data as new software is acquired.
Finally, do not assume that SAM is a discipline in and of itself and can be solely targeted. SAM involves aspects of purchasing, contract management and hardware management. To know what software you are using you need to know where it is installed and running. It’s impossible to understand that unless you also have a good handle on your hardware. Often the hardware on which software runs impacts the required licensing. Additionally, the process of retiring hardware will ideally involve reclamation of SW. SAM is not a standalone process. A complete ITAM process that includes hardware and contracts is necessary to manage your software.
The last point I want to make with respect to ITAM critical success factors is the importance of data standardization. ITAM is all about managing data, and the old saying “garbage in, garbage out” could not be more applicable. Data includes the way you classify IT assets and all the organizational data that you would typically want to associate to IT assets such as: Departments, Employees, Locations, Cost Centers, Cost Types, Projects, etc.
Your IT asset classification structure will provide the mechanism for reporting on assets and using the data to make sound investment decisions. This classification structure is often hierarchical and based on the Model of the IT Asset. Don’t underestimate the importance of defining and maintaining this classification data. Standards should be defined for naming and creating models, and the maintenance of this data should be centralized to the extent possible.
Organizational data is another area that often presents challenges when trying to implement ITAM software. Every organization wants to know who owns, who’s using, where an asset resides and similar data. Unfortunately, most organizations don’t manage all this data centrally, and they end up being multiple sources of data that need to be merged. Prior to starting an ITAM initiative or deployment understand what organizational data is important to track, and spend some time understanding what sources of data exist within your organization for maintaining this data.
Obviously, this list is not exhaustive, and I have only touched on some of the topics. That said, understanding the importance of what I’ve described and avoiding common mistakes in these areas will provide a great start to an ITAM implementation.
About the Author:
ITAM Practice Manager
Walt has been with Evergreen since it was founded in 1997. He has spent most of his career helping customers implement IT Service and Asset Management solutions. Walt is ITIL Foundation certified and is a PMP. He currently leads Evergreen's IT Asset Management practice where he oversees the delivery of ITAM solutions. This practice focuses on leveraging HP Asset Manager and DDMI Technologies to help customers improve the IT Asset Management processes.