IT asset management (ITAM) is a set of solutions for monitoring, securing and managing enterprise technology assets. ITAM is critical for controlling costs, streamlining IT processes and procedures, fulfilling compliance and audit requirements and maintaining a strong security posture.
CIOs and their teams today are facing a growing list of IT asset management challenges. They are struggling to manage the rising tide of assets required to run a modern enterprise – including hardware, software, SaaS, cloud infrastructure and connected devices (aka IoT). They are tasked with controlling IT spend, keeping assets up and running and properly secured, and delivering a premium employee experience. ITAM is the crucial solution that can help them deliver on all these promises. IT hardware asset management and IT software asset management are crucial in achieving this goal. The benefits of IT asset management software are clear – better security, streamlined employee experience, better security, and faster audits. That’s just the start.
A back-of-the-envelope calculation should give you an idea of the scope of what you need to accomplish and also what types of IT assets make the most sense to manage. For smaller numbers of assets, seven-figure systems are not worthwhile. For large numbers of assets, cheaper systems may lack the requisite features and capabilities.
Like any complex enterprise IT project, the appetite for spending and adoption is driven in part by executive participation. ITAM is challenging to implement even in the best of circumstances because it requires behavioral changes. An exec sponsor is needed to help push for the project.
Listing out the problems and challenges you wish to address clarifies both the selection and implementation process. The problems may be IT specific – managing licenses and warranties to avoid costly license overages – or involving other departments. HR needs ITAM to build seamless IT onboarding experiences. Legal and compliance needs ITAM to automate IT audits and compliance practices. Information security needs ITAM to be able to quickly map any breached asset back to a user and location. This is just a sample. A prioritized list will enable you to prioritize features and solution characteristics.
Understanding the processes you need to codify and identifying the key dependencies with other systems will allow you to whiteboard workflows and understand what’s required in your ITAM project. This map must include integration capabilities and challenges. To work well and automate processes, ITAMs should be closely integrated via API with other systems like endpoint management (Tanium), SSOs, employee directory services (Okta, ActiveDirectory, G Suite), and ERP tools (Oracle, NetSuite), IT ticketing (Jira, Zendesk, ServiceNow), and security and response (Palo Alto Networks). This map will also provide a useful baseline schema for your ITAM project and ongoing operations. The map will be especially crucial if your ITAM supports bi-directional data flows because then workflows can be triggered either internally or externally, opening up a much wider array of use cases.
Now that you know what you need to build, convert that into specific development or implementation steps. Note – many larger organizations such as ServiceNow require a year or more to build fully integrated ITAM solutions on their existing platforms. You should consider ease of implementation and whether your ITAM choice will enable development with commonly used languages or frameworks. From that plan, first build a pilot and test the ITAM out on a friendly group of employees.
While much of ITAM is automated, invariably, there are manual elements. ITAM also generally forces organizational changes. This means change management and an adoption plan are required. Find early users in each related organization (IT, finance, operations, HR, legal) who you think will do a good job evangelizing ITAM. Give them extra hands-on training and ensure they understand how the product works and its capabilities (specific to their role, as well).
The manual and playbooks are the institutional knowledge that will make your ITAM project easier to share and easier to manage over time. The manual and playbooks can serve as the ultimate arbiter of best practices for anyone using ITAM. Playbooks operationalize best practice with explicit day-to-day guidance. You should expect to refresh them every six months to ensure that they reflect the true state of ITAM and related systems.