Blurring the Lines – The Top Tier of “To-Dos”

By Stephen Becker, CSAM

This article is a guide to understanding our function as a whole and the main functions that we must remember to include in our daily duties.

Today’s IT asset manager runs a very blurry line that encompasses many skill sets and responsibilities. We have to be competent in multiple fields as well as a solid understanding of how to develop our careers moving forward. There are a few primary business functions an IT asset manager could possibly fall under that would, at least in some sense, describe our functions and value in a simple to understand manner.

IT Asset Management

Caring for the assets, ensuring lifecycles, doing all the day-to-day things that we should be doing is most of our business. We take discovery data and compare it to entitlement data and lifecycle parameters and create pretty reports.

We create compliance reports and we ensure the number of licenses owned is equal to or greater than the number of deployments we have in play. We have to review and understand all updates and the possible license implications that come along with those updates. We need to know how to properly dispose of IT assets when that time comes along as well.

But that isn’t all we do, is it?

Financial Management

Let’s face it folks, we are in the IT finance business. Everything we do should revolve around a key set of financial metrics that can be demonstrated in a way that brings value to a company.

In a traditional SAM role, we are charged with ensuring we have enough licenses to legally run software at our companies. Having the mindset to look at licensing agreements and other possible options for bulk or enterprise licensing is also a valuable skill to have. Remember, when you care for the company’s finances, you are at the top of your game.

Vendor/Publisher Management

Yes, this is a blurred line. Now we are getting into relationship management as well. While we may not be in the contract management teams or the commodities teams, we play a vital role in their success.

If someone working a contract with a publisher does not understand licensing terms and restrictions, and we have not stepped in with our knowledge and skill set, we are setting our companies up to fail. We must be involved in purchases, involved in decommissions and involved in the proper negotiations when it comes right down to it. If we know a publisher has a better option for us and we use that metrics calculator we all have built into our heads to justify changing a contract, or pushing back on a license agreement and asking for better terms, we are making money, not spending it frivolously.

IT Management Management

Yes, you read that right. IT management teams want to see good reports and they want to tackle some of the toughest issues facing us today, like mobile device management. As IT Asset Managers, we often find ourselves having to answer questions with the never popular “we just cannot do that.” This creates anxiety in a management team. When the IT management teams or the finance management teams ask a question, you have to remember that they think in numbers. It’s a positive number or a negative number.

Policy Management

Notice that I did not say “IT” Policy Management. We have to understand and manage policies on all different levels to truly make a positive impact. We have to be involved in financial, security and other policies as well so we can get a big picture view of all assets in the company. That view will guide us to better value.

IT Police Force

As we all know, being the software and hardware police is not a glamorous job. If we were all able to appropriately enforce hardware and software policies, a lot of us would be looking for work. This is the toughest challenge I have had to try and wrap my mind around lately. How can we implement and maintain great asset records and reporting without the authority to enforce the law?

We should be encouraging our employers to incorporate the enforcement piece into our buckets. If we fail to enforce the rules, there will always be something out of whack in our reporting. When it comes time for a publisher audit, I’m sure there will be that extra bead of sweat trickling down our brows as we wonder about the unknowns.

There are more buckets that we all fit into from time to time, but these seem to be the top tier. As we grow and mature our ITAM programs, we need to be aware and involved in all these functions at least from a high level in order to provide the value our companies expect of us.

I leave you with one question. Where are you in your ITAM program maturity?