If you want a digital business to succeed, you need to know the software, hardware, and cloud infrastructure running it. IT Asset Management (ITAM) is all about knowing what you’ve got, where it is, who’s using it, and how much it costs. However, it is more challenging than ever, in this day of cloud computing, ubiquitous virtualization, and the Internet of Things (IoT), to know everything that’s running on your network. We will give you a solid understanding of ITAM principles, and practical advice on leveraging ITAM efficiently and cost-effectively.
ITAM is best understood as a set of business practices built around record-keeping and maintenance. It combines and deals with contractual functions, discovery and inventory, and financial activities. On one hand, ITAM seeks to accommodate and represent all the various contracts for licenses, subscriptions, and services (such as SaaS applications) within an organization in a coherent and consistent way. On the other hand, ITAM also looks out onto an organization’s networks to sniff out, discover, and compile as complete a list as possible of what IT assets it actually sees in use, along with who’s using them, what for, how long, and so forth. Finally, ITAM also tracks financial activities around those assets—including costs of acquisition, licensing, upgrades, maintenance, and so on. Simply by assembling, combining, and correlating these three bodies of data, ITAM helps to create a current and consistent record of IT assets within an organization.
With this information at its disposal, ITAM can do much more than document contracts, assets in actual use, and financial information. More importantly, ITAM seeks to create an environment to help make the most of the IT assets under its purview. Thus, ITAM provides tools to help organizations optimize their spending. ITAM also seeks to support lifecycle management for those assets from requirements analysis and evaluation, through procurement and deployment, to ongoing maintenance and upkeep, to eventual retirement and disposal or destruction. (Of course, that lifecycle never ends because new assets keep entering the system even as old ones become obsolete or age out of the system). Ultimately, this makes ITAM an essential element in an organization’s strategic decision-making process. As alternatives are weighed, selections made, deployments undertaken, and so forth, ITAM provides valuable data to help organizations make good technology choices and improve their returns on such investments over time.
Making ITAM Work
Once the ball is rolling and ITAM has been established in your organization, it’s time to put its tools and technologies to work. One part of ITAM is Software Asset Management (SAM)—best understood as the software part of the overall ITAM practice—works best when all its elements come together under a single software umbrella.
The SAM approach starts with paperwork on one side (purchase and license or entitlement records) and actually discovered software on the other. These two inputs go into a normalization and reconciliation process. This is where the ServiceNow Content Library really shines because it can identify millions of software and hardware titles, including versions, releases, and levels. It can also handle discovery, procurement, and lifecycle data. When usage gets compared to purchases, licenses, and entitlements, it’s easy to determine if there is an excess of licenses or entitlements for one or more items. It’s also simple to identify items for which no licenses or entitlements are on record or where usage outstrips supply. Once those situations are identified, SAM can define actionable workflows to correct whatever imbalances might exist.
Eighty percent of an organization’s software spend is likely to go toward the top few publishers. These are the same vendors who perform audits on their customers. Thus, SAM’s reconciliation (and remediation) capabilities represent a quick and easy way to put the technology to work to help manage costs. This also helps reduce the risk of unexpected costs, penalties, and reputation damage—a definite win, no matter how you look at it. But for the business cases put together for SAM, such as reducing waste, eliminating outlays on unused or underused software, and doing away with redundant or unneeded software, SAM can also deliver clear and unambiguous wins. If ITAM is supporting the HR onboarding process, document the efficiencies gained by running ITAM on the same platform as the HR system. The better you define and meet your metrics for success, the better the results will be for your organization.
Read Part 2 of the Achieving ITAM Success Series, Managing the ITAM Process.