ITAM – 4 Tips to Break Down Your Organizational Data Silos
With technology innovations occurring daily, it’s important for companies to ensure that their IT investment is working efficiently. To do this, a little something (or big depending on how long it is since you’ve taken an inventory!) called IT Asset Management (ITAM for short) helps you manage your IT assets throughout their lifecycle.
Good ITAM practice gives the IT department the opportunity to work smarter, and alongside ITSM (IT Service Management), which looks at efficient delivery of IT services, you can create a well-oiled machine!
In this blog, I will give you 4 tips on how to make the most of your ITAM by breaking down the silos.
KNOWLEDGE OF THE PRESENT
It’s common in the workplace for there to be several departments such as sales, marketing, and HR, all with their own targets and agendas, creating organizational silos within their own needs and tasks. Using ITAM, we need to break down these silos and look at the bigger picture. What are the generic IT needs across the board? How can we better manage our assets? Better asset management data, information, and knowledge about what is being used, what is being spent, and what risks exist allows IT decision-makers to make more informed decisions based on facts.
The more knowledge you have regarding your users, their main objectives, and their IT assets, the quicker you can resolve any problems that may occur. This will help to streamline your IT service desk and increase first call incident resolution.
Some of the simplest, yet most effective examples of breaking down the data silos involve giving access to tools and systems to enable your front-line service desk. This could be as simple as giving them access from within your Service Desk interface to your remote-control tools or even enabling them to see the real-time state of your devices to understand whether the person they need to support is at their desk. How much more effective could your teams be if they knew when the person they need to contact has returned to their desk rather than wasting time playing email/telephone tennis?
Planning without knowledge leads to bad decisions, negative perceptions, and can have a detrimental business effect. To this end, it’s important to look back at your IT historical data and review the products you are currently using to get the most efficiency from your IT budget. Operating system migrations, new application deployments, and hardware refreshes can all benefit by knowing what has happened before; to do this you need to ask some simple questions:
- Are we utilizing the IT assets we currently have?
- Where are we getting our assets from?
- What stage are the maintenance contracts in? Is there a better alternative?
- When are our contracts up for renewal? Do we need to renew?
- Where are our assets located? Have any come to the end of their lease?
- You also need to look at systems usage; you may have assets that are overloaded or in need of an upgrade. There may be peak times for usage on certain assets, and different employees may have access to different assets – again, knowing who has what and how they have historically used the assets will also help you manage your IT service better. A good asset repository will also allow you to keep a history of changes for future reference.
MANAGED REQUEST PROCESS
The ITAM repository should be unified with service requests to ensure costs are contained, the stock is managed efficiently, and end users are supplied with the correct software and services.
A well-maintained repository of IT assets allows companies to track installs, moves, and changes and to see if they agree with scheduled changes and IT policies.
This is an area where aligning ITAM, ITSM, and Endpoint Management can bring real business benefits. Software is an expensive asset that has serious repercussions if it is not tracked and managed correctly. Integrating your Software Request process into ITAM as well as automating the delivery/removal of software via your endpoint management tools delivers multi-level benefits by reducing risk from vendor audits, enabling service delivery without requiring multiple interactions by expensive IT resources. The result can be a much more streamlined process that ensures adherence to licensing while reducing or even eliminating manual interactions to provide enhanced customer service.
Going beyond software, the same processes can lead into Identity Management, ensuring the management of the full user lifecycle, including ensuring the correct security and access rights follow them through to reduce risk of exploit.
In every organization I have ever worked with, there have been under-utilized assets; it is so easy for the odd laptop to go missing from the inventory or be squirrelled away in a cupboard somewhere. So, it’s important to spend some time trying to locate how many assets you have, what is online, offline, and how many are in any location. This will give you the opportunity to relocate those underutilized systems and maybe save some pennies. We need to avoid what we commonly see where non-reporting assets are simply deleted rather than the reason for their non-reporting investigated.
I saw a perfect example of understanding the utilization of assets in a University that we were working with. Whenever new equipment was requested for one of the shared student labs it would simply be authorized for purchase because the only metrics they had available to them were when it was last seen online and if someone had logged into it. All systems showed as having been online each day and logged into. By simply linking up metrics, it was possible to discover that what was really happening was that all systems were being manually switched on each day so that no-one had to wait for a system to start up but that only about 60% of the devices were used by students concurrently. It looked like all devices were being used when all that was happening was that people happened to use every desk at some point during the day.
From that point, rather than having to purchase new equipment each time there was a request, it was a simple task to identify areas where there was a surplus of equipment and reallocate rather than purchase more. In the first 3 months alone, this saved over €20,000.
So, hardware savings were a quick win, software savings were an unexpected win (since fewer devices meant less licensing required), and then began the discussion of how they could be saving energy costs by not needing to switch on devices when they weren’t required!
ITAM practice allows you to understand what you have, where it is, who uses it, how it is configured, how it is used, and the value it is providing to the business.
Mismanagement of IT assets can lead to poor delivery of services and wasted budgets. Even the simplest act of disposing of a PC carries a security risk – we’ve all heard the horror stories of laptops being left on trains which had sensitive data on them. PCs are potentially a loaded gun that could make or break your business if information is not properly secured and data protected or devices not , disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way.
BUT the biggest asset of all is your people. If you engage your teams, keep them informed, and reduce the organizational silos within your business, you will find that an effective ITAM practice becomes an achievable and maintainable objective, helping you to shape and streamline your business.
About the Author
Mark McGinn is Managing Director of MarXtar Ltd, an international business with over 25 years’ experience of delivering IT systems and service management solutions. MarXtar’s Ivanti One Certified flagship product Enterprise Notifier delivers targeted, auditable, and actionable communications to desktops and mobile devices via the ENgage! mobile app. Learn more about MarXtar.