IT Asset Management (ITAM) is the discipline of managing IT assets throughout their lifecycle.
If IT Service Management (ITSM) is primarily concerned with efficient delivery of services, then ITAM is primarily concerned with managing the costs and risks of using the IT assets that underpin services. Like ITSM, ITAM should be considered an on-going commitment and practice rather than a short-term project.
It is important for the disciplines of ITAM and ITSM to be aligned within the IT department since most lifecycle stages of an asset are delivered or in some way interact with the Service Desk. ITSM is the source of asset changes; by working close together with ITAM the organization can ensure the risks associated with changes can be proactively managed.
A good ITAM practice enables IT departments to make smarter decisions, demonstrate value, and help reduce nasty surprises. In this article we explore 9 key ways ITAM can empower the IT department:
1. Smarter Decision Making
ITAM is the trusted advisor, whispering in the CIO’s ear.
Better knowledge about what is being used, what is being spent, and what risks exist can allow IT decision makers to make informed decisions based on facts. For example, at the highest level, if the CIO has to manage the merger of two IT departments during an acquisition, good data from ITAM allows the CIO to take stock and make decisions based on fact – not fiction.
2. Efficient IT Spend
Are we using our IT spend efficiently:
ITAM provides the answers to these questions and much more.
3. Preparation Prevents Poor Performance (PPPP)
Trustworthy ITAM data can underpin the preparation and delivery of new IT projects and upgrades. Operating system migrations, new application deployments, and hardware refreshes can all benefit by good real time data about current configurations and asset status. For example, preparing a move to Windows 8 can be a lot easier if we can see which machines are ‘capable’ of using Windows 8 in our environment before we even begin the project.
4. Forensics and Proactive Security Monitoring
A well-maintained repository of IT assets allows organizations to track installs, moves, and changes and see if they agree with scheduled changes and IT policies. A good asset repository will also allow you to keep a history of changes for future reference. Security teams can harness ITAM data to support other security practices and identify unwanted behaviour, unwanted applications, or unwanted users on the network.
5. Supercharged Support Desk
This one is a no-brainer. In simple terms - the more we know about the user and their IT assets, the quicker we can resolve their issue, period. IT support staff can resolve support calls quicker when they have up to date information regarding IT assets (not based on ancient spreadsheets) and accurate data to support their diagnostic processes.
6. Lower the Risk in Change Management
Good ITAM data can be called upon to reduce risks and mistakes in the change management process. For example, a request for change to a server might be approved from a delivery of service, security, and configuration management point of view – but will that change trigger an enormous licensing cost that will severely impact budgets?
7. Streamlined Service Request Process
If a service request portal for end users is the shop window for IT, then ITAM data is the inventory and stock management for the shop. The ITAM repository should be unified with service requests to ensure costs are contained, stock is managed efficiently, and users are supplied with the correct software and services.
8. Proactive Problem Management
If service desk administrators identify an issue being caused by a specific configuration, they can make use of ITAM data to identify users or devices that have a similar configuration and take proactive steps before the user even knows they have an issue. This is especially useful for users and devices that fall out of the scope of high-end services and systems likely to be managed in a CMDB.
For example, if a user experiences issues with using an application due to a service pack being applied – support staff can quickly identify who else has had that service pack applied and take proactive steps to reduce service issues.
9. Avoiding Nasty Surprises – Containing Compliance Risk
Finally, last but by no means least – ITAM helps us contain our compliance risks.
Any hardware, software, or services we introduce into the business come loaded with regulations, use rights, and contractual terms. Even freeware and open source software has limitations to use and legal obligations to manage. All these items should be treated as assets and managed throughout their time in the business – from initial request through to retirement, destruction or transfer of ownership.
Mismanagement of IT assets can lead to poor delivery of services, wasted budget, fines, and bad press. For example, even the simple act of buying a desktop PC for a business carries risk – the worst-case scenario is that the desktop PC ends up in a landfill site carrying company data – a loaded gun of compliance risk triggering data protection, information security, green waste regulation, and so on.
ITAM practices allow you to understand what you have, where it is, who uses it, how it is configured, how it is used, and the value it is providing to the business. Start practicing ITAM principles today and gain control of costs, reduce risk, and enable smarter decision-making.