The Foundation of a Successful ITAM Program - In 5 Not So Easy Steps

If anyone ever tells you “It’s easy to establish a successful IT Asset Management (ITAM) program”, they are mistaken. It’s easy to establish an ineffective ITAM program, but what good is that? Let’s face it, establishing a successful ITAM program takes time, resources, money, and strategy with a solid foundation that your executives will support, and there’s nothing easy about all of that! Merriam-Webster states that “foundation” is the basis upon which something stands or is supported. Building a successful ITAM program starts with a solid foundation. You wouldn’t try to build a bridge without first knowing its purpose (is it for trains or automobiles?), where to build it, how tall it has to be, and how wide it should be. So why build an ITAM Program without first establishing a solid foundation with a strategy and plan that sets you up for success?

Is your ITAM Program operating in chaos mode? Are there not enough hours in the day to get everything done? Or maybe it has been around for years but provides little value to your organization because what you report is unreliable and untrusted. A successful ITAM program provides operational efficiency and financial management of IT hardware and software assets throughout the asset lifecycle. Furthermore, a successful ITAM program delivers visibility and control of IT assets while reducing costs and minimizing risk. For an ITAM Program to be successful it must be built for success.

On an annual basis executives typically devise plans unique to their business and these strategies become priorities and a benchmark for guiding the company forward. Connecting your ITAM program to the IT and business strategy is critical to demonstrate to executives how ITAM supports the organization’s goals. Once aligned, ITAM can be a means to turning information into knowledge, an enabler for decision making, and help departments collectively work towards reaching business priorities and goals. When the ITAM Program strategy shows key stakeholders and executives how it will help meet business and IT goals, chances of approval and support are far higher. Strategic alignment is the heart of the ITAM Program foundation.

It takes time to develop and implement a successful ITAM program, but time-to-value is imperative. In order to achieve this value your implementation needs to start with a strong foundation that sets the stage for success and allows subsequent phases to thrive. There are 5 key steps to building a solid ITAM foundation:

STEP 1: Define Corporate Controls and Policy

STEP 2: Process Integration

STEP 3: Data Management

STEP 4: Define Metrics & Key Performance Indicators

STEP 5: Create a Communications Plan

The foundation is the cornerstone of the Program on which the remaining phases are built. Once you have defined and fully grasped the details of these 5 steps, you will be positioned to develop and present the ITAM program implementation plan to executives and obtain buy-in.

STEP 1: Define Corporate Controls and Policy

Understanding the controls needed to govern the ITAM Program is the starting point. In order to implement a successful ITAM Program, a foundation built on approved controls supported by leadership is required and will set the stage for success. Without controls, governance, policy and the right team in place, the implementation is destined for failure.

The primary controls for the ITAM Program should include:

  • Establishment of a steering committee
  • Implementation of ITAM governance
  • Development and acceptance of a corporate ITAM Policy
  • Establishment of a quality ITAM organization
  • Definition of scope

The plan may ultimately be implemented with resources across multiple workgroups, departments, divisions, and possibly international locations. To ensure all associated resources are aligned with the ITAM Program goals and objectives an effective ITAM governance model with executive support is required. A top down approach with IT objectives driving the goals and activities of ITAM will guide the production of the information that IT stakeholders need to manage IT operations, and the information executives need to make strategic decisions and manage objectives. An organization needs a formal IT Asset Management governance program that supports the creation and execution of processes which manage all IT assets, both hardware and software, and mitigates the financial risks of audits or inefficient acquisition of IT assets. Furthermore, a clear definition of scope for your ITAM Program, supported by your ITAM Policy, will allow you to focus on the efforts that matter the most.

STEP 2: Process Integration

Effective IT Asset Management is underpinned by a comprehensive set of processes as well as the execution and management of such. Before the ITAM Program can be implemented, an organization must understand which processes are required to support the program strategy. The ITAM team must see if there are gaps between current process design and executtion compared to process goals, so the program can deliver the desired results. Once a process assessment is complete the organization will be in a position to develop a plan to close the discovered gaps so a quality program can be established. Like any set of processes, a periodic review is needed to ensure continuous improvement.

The ITAM program will not stand alone, that is, it must be integrated with other functional areas of the organization. These areas will provide input (data) and receive output (reports) from the ITAM program. For example, integration with Purchasing/Procurement is required to gather hardware and software purchase data to control IT asset costs and mitigate software license compliance risk. Likewise, integration with Finance is required to support internal cost allocations and chargebacks, and most importantly to tie into the Fixed Asset Register for proper depreciation of assets.

The key process integration activities include:

  • ITAM process assessment and gap analysis
  • Implementation of target state processes based on the gap analysis and closure
  • Finance process integration
  • Procurement process integration
  • Operations/Infrastructure process integration
  • Continuous process improvements

STEP 3: Data Management

It’s not about how much data one can obtain, it’s about the quality of data. Simply put, bad data means process breakdown which results in the proverbial “Garbage in – Garbage out”. A successful ITAM Program requires quality data from multiple sources across the organization and the integration of the data into the ITAM toolset. During the development of the ITAM Program implementation plan, the architecture and integration points to support the data requirements must be clearly understood.