Today more than ever, businesses are under scrutiny by stakeholders to create value. CEOs actively seek out new revenue opportunities, and they also look for innovative ways to reduce costs. Effective IT Asset Management (ITAM) can help on both fronts.
But that can’t happen without the solid foundation of an integrated, single view of the organization’s IT assets (including software) and related data. Oddly enough, many organizations today are not capable of answering even the most basic questions: how many assets do we have, where are they located, who owns them, and who is using them? That’s where ITAM comes in.
ITAM programs help managers cut IT costs by giving them a better understanding of their current inventory, increasing asset and process efficiency, supporting negotiations with vendors, and implementing usage-based charge-backs to help manage demand. ITAM programs also help align technology with business needs and improve overall service delivery. And from a risk and compliance perspective, they can help improve the management of confidential customer data, and prepare the IT organization for contractual and financial compliance audits.
Achieving these benefits requires an in-depth understanding of the IT assets within the organization, as well as rigorous processes to continuously update and validate asset information.
Why don’t most organizations have an ITAM program in place? Two reasons: first, most don’t have the integrated processes in place to track and monitor required information, and second, most IT leaders underestimate the scale and complexity of the challenge, and fall short in developing the necessary strategy. They look instead to software tools to solve operational and process issues, neglecting the strategic nature of the program.
ONE BITE AT A TIME
Effective ITAM programs require both strategic and operational responses, not just a focus on technical components like installing tools. While the technology is an important element of operationalizing the program, policies and processes make up a much larger part of the challenge – as much as 80%.
Another challenge companies face is their desire to have a ‘Cadillac’ program while working with unrealistic plans and timelines. That makes it especially important to focus up front on defining the overall implementation strategy and communicating that strategy to stakeholders as changes occur. This baseline provides a tool to monitor progress and align expectations. A slow and steady approach works better because it allows organizations to focus on the success of a few core program components, rather than swinging for the homerun and striking out.
Even with a solid strategy, there are other challenges, especially when the ITAM program is driven by multiple functional integration points throughout the asset lifecycle. Meeting this challenge requires capturing relevant asset data from many related systems and processes, managed by numerous stakeholders. Not only are ITAM managers forced to meet multiple user needs, but they often rely on the integration of processes and data they do not own.
Successful organizations position ITAM as a meta process which seamlessly links into the processes managed by the related stakeholders (e.g., HR, Finance, Procurement, LOBs). This is achieved primarily through cross-functional requirements-gathering and gaining stakeholder buy-in by delivering functional benefits (e.g., vendor management for Procurement, chargeback for Finance).
To improve the chances of succeeding in establishing ITAM capabilities, here are some tips to keep in mind.
• QUICK WINS AND EARLY SUCCESS:
Focus on fixing a specific problem for a specific stakeholder (e.g., upcoming lease expirations for leased assets to the contract/leasing group).
• ONGOING EXECUTIVE SUPPORT:
Identify a champion and secure long-term support and funding.
• DEFINED PROCESSES:
Map out the processes and focus on data control points. Identify when asset status can change, and determine how data in the repository will be updated.
• DATA INTEGRITY AND GOVERNANCE:
Identify multiple methods to validate data (e.g., random audits, auto-discovery, vendor reports) and implement these controls and checkpoints.
• LIMITED ASSET CLASSES:
Focus on a discrete set of asset classes or locations, and expand over time.
• GRADUAL INTEGRATION:
Integrate with one or two other functions (e.g., Service Desk, Procurement) and save less valuable/more complex integrations (e.g., Fixed Asset & HR data) for later.
Start with high level/aggregate metrics (e.g., number of desktops in repository) and then drive out detail as business need arises.
Curtis VanWalleghem is a Senior Consultant with Deloitte and is a member of the firm’s IT Asset Management team focusing on developing the service offering and delivering ITAM programs to clients globally. He can be reached at [email protected]
Steve Cryer is a Senior Manager with Deloitte and has extensive experience in developing corporate and business IT strategies within the financial industry. He can be reached at [email protected]