Observing Best Practices is the First Step to a Mature ITAM Program

New IT Asset Managers should be cautious of being too eager before they learn the best practices of their trade.

Although custom processes may be necessary in some IT Asset Management (ITAM) programs, trying to implement them before using established best practices is like putting the cart before the horse. The International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers, Inc. (IAITAM) has outlined the best practices through its 12 Key Process Areas (KPAs) necessary for ITAM programs to run successfully.

“The KPAs are the foundation to any ITAM program,” said Dr. Barbara Rembiesa, President and CEO of IAITAM. “Custom processes definitely have their place. But the entire ITAM effort will collapse if the program isn’t built on a solid footing. You have to know the rules, and know how to use them, before you can know how to adjust them.”

Rembiesa said the first step in establishing a program using best practices is to become educated on what they are. The association expands on the KPAs in the IAITAM Best Practice Library (IBPL). The 13-book, 12-volume set is a practitioner’s guide to setting up a successful program. IAITAM also offers seven certification courses that cover foundations of IT Asset Management through specializations in the field, such as mobility and security.

Once a practitioner understands how these best practices achieve the desired goals, that person can begin to tailor a program to manage by exception and meet the unique needs of their organization.

“Some IT Asset Managers have assumed that setting up an ITAM program is easy, and that their way is better than the established practices,” said Rembiesa. “Those same practitioners are surprised later when the program fails. There is more to ITAM than counting computers and entering the data on a spreadsheet. The KPAs and other tools of the trade are complex.”

But other components are important, too, Rembiesa said. Obtaining executive buy-in to the program and using tools – such as an automated discovery tool and centralized repository – are necessary to ensure overall success. Each of these supplements supports the KPAs and creates a stronger program.

IT Asset Managers can adjust the best practices once they are in place. In fact, IAITAM encourages practitioners to do so.

“Organizations are not one-size-fits all, and because of that, neither are ITAM programs,” said Rembiesa. “Some are big, some are small. Some have one IT Asset Manager, while others have many. Their industries are different, their priorities are different, and their needs are different. Therefore, their ITAM programs are going to be different.

“But those differences still need to be fastened to the same framework established by the KPAs,” she said.

Unfortunately, some practitioners have had to learn the hard way that ignoring the KPAs can lead to disastrous consequences. The repercussions can come after an audit, but they also can happen after a cybersecurity threat, a violation of privacy laws, or improper disposal of hazardous materials. Each can have serious financial implications, but they also can affect an organization’s public or corporate image, destroy morale, and even prevent business continuity.

“I’ve said before that you cannot manage what you don’t know you have,” said Rembiesa. “You also cannot know what you have unless you are using ITAM best practices. Trying to run a program without them jeopardizes an organization’s bottom line, and trying to improve the bottom line is the entire purpose of the program itself.”