“But things like improper documentation, miscommunication with staff and unreliable data are all examples of issues that can compromise the success of an IT Asset Management (ITAM) program and lessen its effectiveness for an organisation,” Ivanti’s IT asset management (ITAM) evangelist, Patricia Adams told iTWire in an interview.
Adams has been a research analyst/director with Gartner from 1996 prior to joining Ivanti in May 2015.
She is widely regarded one of the world's foremost experts in IT asset management and understands this discipline from a business, process, people, and technology viewpoint.
1. Insufficient governance
One of the biggest mistakes made comes in the form of insufficient governance. Within many organisations, the foundational work required to ensure the success of the ITAM program is simply not completed. Often, the IT asset management team knows it has a problem but is unsure of how to get the C-level attention required to fix it. Without support and direction from executives, the program risks failure.
In these situations, it is important to build a tactical roadmap of what needs to be done, but also to include a strategic roadmap that aligns with the technology and budgetary priorities of senior management. In this way, the asset management team will be able to gain consensus on exactly what problems exist and the steps that will be needed to overcome them.
2. Incomplete process documentation
All organisations have processes in place, but far fewer have them fully documented or regularly train staff on process execution. This can lead to a lack of reproducible activities when staff change or the organisation's structure is altered.
It also means there is no documentation that can be shared both within teams and with the wider business, making it hard to explain what ITAM is and why it’s important. It also means there is no baseline from which improvements can be measured. Completion of detailed documentation for all processes will overcome these issues.
3. Lack of metrics to measure effectiveness
Proving that your ITAM program is adding value to your organisation is difficult unless you have the metrics to support it. You need the ability to know where you are, where you want to be, and the progress you are making in the interim.
Effective metrics required include details of asset prices, maintenance costs, inventory accuracy, installed base of software, and total cost of ownership calculations. It is also good to have the mechanisms in place to track estimated future spending requirements as an organisation evolves and grows.
4. Believing processes are static
Processes should be standardised but at the same time must not be inflexible. They need to be able to be adjusted based on the specific requirements of group or department, or if the business goals change.
Exceptions to the standard processes should be expected and need to be documented so they can be clearly communicated in the future. This tends to occur among senior management who often require the flexibility to work in different ways and in different locations.
5. Never revising asset-related policies
Processes are not static and policies should not be either. Policies need to reflect the current business environment and must be revised as the business changes.
This is important when it comes to creating policies that apply to third parties and contractors. These groups need to understand what is expected of them when they make use of company IT assets.
All these policies should be accessible and readily understood, rather than buried within HR manuals. Any revisions and updates should also be noted so they are clear for everyone who is effected.
6. Failure to communicate asset management policies
For an ITAM programme to be effective, it is important that its function and goals are communicated correctly across the organisation. This can be achieved through a variety of options from notices on the intranet to corporate policy training sessions conducted on a regular basis.
Not knowing policies does not exempt people from following them, so such regular communication is vital. It also strengthens the buy-in of staff as they understand why the policies are in place and the benefits that they provide.
7. Creating policies that apply only to staff
While ITAM policies have an impact on all staff, including internal IT, they also need to be extended to a wider audience. Third-party contractors and vendors must also be included to ensure the policies cover everyone who is making use of the organisation’s IT assets.
There is also a need to cover temporary workers. While they may only be working in the organisation for a short period, they too need to understand the IT asset policies that are in place. The policies need to cover a range of areas including acceptable use as well as what happens if there is loss or theft of hardware.
8. Confusing the asset repository with the CMDB
An asset repository contains the physical financial and contractual data relating to assets. A Configuration Management Database (CMDB), on the other hand, contains information about the actual configuration of items currently in use.
The two are therefore very different and must be compiled and managed separately. Trying to combine them in a single system can lead to mistakes.
9. Relying on incomplete discovery data
It is important to ensure that the discovery and inventory management tools used to cover the entire group of asset types, from mobile to data centre as any assets that are missed initially can go untracked for extended periods of time.
Once identified and recorded, assets can be tracked using barcode scanning or RFID systems. Tracking should also be extended to cover spare parts to ensure they can all be accounted for.
10. Never normalising management data
IT asset data needs to be regularly reviewed to ensure it remains accurate. It's one thing to capture it in the first place, but ensuring it remains an accurate log of everything in the organisation required ongoing effort.
Normalising also ensures that users or assets that have ended up being recorded twice can be removed before issues are caused at audit time.
By being mindful of these factors, asset management teams can ensure they are providing an accurate and up-to-date record of all IT assets across their organisation. This will ensure maximum value is obtained from capital investments always.