Starting a New ITAM Program – Taking Time to Understand and Be Understood

By Dan Nord

After managing IT infrastructure teams and IT Asset Management for years in the manufacturing sector, a sudden switch to the financial banking industry was the start of a fresh new beginning for me. IT Asset Management (ITAM) is, after all, “managing the business side of IT,” regardless of what industry the company is in. However, it is very important to take the time to understand any environment that is new before making assumptions.

Getting a new start developing processes can be very refreshing, but it also helps to have the patience and persistence to assemble a puzzle together with missing pieces. That is what it can feel like at times and provides great challenges and many rewarding experiences. Below are suggestions for getting oriented at a new company or industry, and beginning that challenge of implementing a brand new IT Asset Management program.

Where to Start

Get started through information gathering:

  • Begin to develop new relationships with all the IT, Procurement, and Accounts Payable associates that you will typically be working with. Take the time to explain what ITAM is as well as begin to gather information through these get-acquainted sessions
  • Utilize existing discovery and management tools in place to generate hardware and software listings that can be summarized
  • Collect as many different listings that already exist for hardware, software, vendors, purchase history, processes and all else related to ITAM items or activities
  • Discover the new environment by finding as many process flow, work instructions and roadmap documents as you can
  • Ask about past audit reports or findings related to how hardware or software licensing is being managed
  • Scrutinize existing security policies and standards to cross check your current understanding

As a next step, develop an IT portfolio overview snapshot. What you trying to accomplish is an understanding of the current state of the tools used to run your business. An overview listing will prove valuable for deciding the scope of what will be included in the IT Asset Management initiative. It can be helpful to list out the most common IT objects by categories:

  • Core business systems software and processes they support
  • Office / productivity applications (MS Office, email, etc)
  • Reporting and query tools
  • Facility, maintenance and building applications
  • Technical infrastructure (security, patching, monitoring, helpdesk, etc)
  • Database management systems used
  • Desktop, server, and architecture operating systems
  • Physical hardware brands, models, and types. Make sure you go beyond the traditional desktop and server hardware, and understand what unique IT hardware/machines are in your industry
  • Network and communications tools and environments

Identifying as many of the variations currently in use will help confirm your understanding of the environment, and can highlight risks and opportunities for establishing a more comprehensive ITAM program. This overview should be referenced many times while drafting an ITAM charter, and can highlight opportunities for “quick wins” in demonstrating the value of ITAM.

Develop an IT Asset Management Project Charter

It is important that any new initiative of the size and significance of an ITAM program development project be clearly documented and agreed upon by the ITAM manager as well as executive management. Using all of the fact-finding that you have already gathered, you can now develop a more meaningful project charter linking expected results to business objectives and goals. The outline of the charter might include:

  • Business case statements: Description and purpose of the ITAM project linked into the business conditions and environments
  • Goals and desired outcomes: ITAM goals and anticipated positive results including compliance, cost reductions, standardization, etc.
  • Benefits: An achievable, detailed list of expected results from implementing ITAM
  • Risks of the project: Attempt to identify possible risks, their probability and potential impact on the ITAM project. Identify any proposed mitigations you might preplan
  • Project dependencies: Include management support, culture, tool sets needed, etc.
  • Assumptions: Identify those that will impact timing, deliverables, documentation verification, etc.
  • Scope: It is very important to detail as much as you can on hardware and software items, processes, organizations and business areas that are both in scope and out of scope
  • ITAM project approach: Describe the high-level project milestones that demonstrate relative assumptions such as the proper prioritization and sequencing to achieve baseline needs and quick wins
  • ITAM standard and procedure deliverables: Highlight opportunities for clarification and consistency in how IT resources are being managed
  • Approvals and executive sponsors: This is a great opportunity to ensure common understanding of charter details and management buy-in.
Summary

As you are developing a new ITAM program from the ground up, it is important that you factor in your company culture, goals and objectives. Directly tying ITAM goals to business objectives will help you achieve the management support for a highly successful program. It is very easy to link ITAM to business objectives of reducing costs and complexity, managing risks, improving customer service, etc.

Taking the time to understand and be understood is valuable when launching an ITAM program as a means of increasing the success of the project. This approach ensures that the project begins with a focus on very quick wins that have a direct impact on the bottom line.

About the Author

Dan Nord is the IT Asset Manager for Old National Bank.