When IT asset management (ITAM) projects succeed, it’s because they capture and integrate data, not because of a particular ITAM tool. ITAM projects most often fail because of unclear manual processes for updating data, data that provides inconsistent answers, a lack of data or an overload of data than cannot be managed by the asset management team.
To make it easy, start with a clear understanding of what the ITAM team needs and how to get it as easily as possible. Make sure your organization can answer the following five questions:
- What data does ITAM need to be effective? Before you start building your ITAM system, make sure you have a clear understanding of the outcomes you are trying to achieve. If you want to manage a concurrent user license, for example, then be sure you are capturing concurrent user data.
- Where is the data located today? And what is the golden source of data? Much of the data ITAM needs already exists within the organization, but the quality will vary depending on the processes and protocols and from which team it comes. Be sure to identify all the possible sources of data, differentiate between reliable and unreliable data sources and establish different data sources that can be used to corroborate data. Automated data collection from management consoles like System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) will read hardware details from a computer’s BIOS, which is a reliable but imperfect source, since the BIOS can contain incorrect details or a change to the motherboard can impact the external serial number.
- If the data does not exist today, how can you source the data tomorrow? Creating data just for ITAM purposes means that ITAM must then maintain it. Look for other sources of data, including external sources, such as software vendors and re-sellers that can feed updated license data back into ITAM. Preferably find multiple sources of data to corroborate your data as the vendor’s data is still prone to error or omission, particularly in cases in which entitlements have been purchased by multiple entities.
- How can you update the data on a timely basis? Define what “timely” means to your organization. Is it daily, weekly, monthly? Then work out the mechanics of automating the updates so only the exceptions require manual updating. A mature approach will set a cadence for updating data and a cadence for dealing with exceptions and reviewing data quality. If you let data get out of control, it can be very difficult and costly to get it back in control.
- What processes will best support ITAM? Instead of creating a raft of new ITAM-specific processes, build ITAM requirements into your existing processes, so it is a seamless part of your organization that reduces the need for overhead efforts. For example, when an organization automates the generation of new asset records based on data captured during the purchasing process, it can create an asset at the point of ordering, invoice, physical receipt or payment. Rather than expecting your staff to manually create an asset record, use the details from the manufacturer’s purchase records about what is being or has been shipped – including make, model, serial number and configuration – to automatically create an asset record.
In this example, making data capture part of an existing process improves the accuracy of the data, reduces the manual effort required to create asset records and helps an organization compare what was shipped against what was received. For security-conscious organizations, it also helps identify installed assets that did not arrive via the purchasing process. If ITAM can create quality asset data, that data also can be shared with the configuration management database to reduce the effort required to create configuration items.
Before you start worrying about buying an ITAM tool, think about ITAM data and building the right processes into your existing workflow. ISG helps enterprises build ITAM processes and protocols, so you capture better data to manage your environments and IT budgets. Contact us to discuss how we can help you.