Sharing Is Caring, and Other Lessons From ITAM

Sharing can be a difficult concept for children (and some adults) to grasp. The punishment for not sharing can be harsh in the professional world. Employees who can’t effectively share ideas, findings, and resources often don’t last very long.

Sharing is at the heart of the fourth stage of Ivanti’s ITAM/SAM Attainment Model:

  • Level 0: Unmanaged
  • Level 1: Initial
  • Level 2: Managed
  • Level 3: Shared
  • Level 4: Optimized

Level 3: Shared is characterized by the ability of ITAM/SAM managers to collaborate effectively with other domains by sharing data through team meetings, executive dashboard reports, tool integration, and other areas. Visibility across IT domains supports higher level objectives that lead to efficiencies that, in turn, enable IT to deliver on its strategic roadmap and transformation efforts.

The advantages at this level are huge. The ongoing investment is typically in additional headcount, which makes it worth attaining. In fact, at this level, costs, risks, and timeframes start to decline, while service quality increases. Many of the reactive problems around governance and policies associated with lower levels, have been solved. The major focus is on staffing and encouraging communication through effective teamwork. In some organizations, this will require a cultural shift away from thinking domain-specific control—or “hero culture”—to an open approach to information and data sharing. Enabling this type of collaboration at the staff level may require rewriting job descriptions or performance reviews to ensure staff follow senior management’s lead.

It may be necessary to update processes and tools as new technologies continue to enter the organization. However, most of the heavy lifting— from a time and cost perspective—should already have been done at the Managed level. At this point the focus is on enabling continuous delivery of business services, regardless of whether the services are running in the cloud or on-premise in software containers located in data center. Security, Service and Support, Business Units, Disaster Recovery, Enterprise Architects, and Strategic Planners are all collaborating to understand each other’s challenges, direction, goals, critical success factors, and key performance indicators (KPIs), and to share data across the domains.

Metrics also undergo an evolution at this level. They become service focused, and are based on the ability to better analyze data. Most organizations will have service level agreements in place with their internal customers—for example, the time to fulfill an asset-related request—but the SLAs will align to support increased visibility. This will lead to the creation of vendor performance scorecards as well as SLAs that go outside traditional ITAM/SAM to support disaster recovery and business continuity planning.

From a financial perspective, at this level, organizations will best be able to achieve consistent savings across various IT budgets, both corporate and the business unit. Consistent savings aren’t only hard dollars associated with negotiation strategies and purchase price, but extend to management costs for hardware, software, and services that support business outcomes directly. Delivering on this requires having an ITAM/SAM strategy that includes data center, cloud, and hosted assets. With data center representing a significant percentage of IT spend, being able to discover all servers, virtual machines, software containers, and the installed software provides much needed visibility.

It’s no surprise that enterprise software spend is growing because it’s being used to gain technical advantage with business intelligence, data analytics, mobility, technology modernization, security, cloud adoption, and many other drivers. Organizations are looking for more flexibility from their software suppliers. The ability to run software in containers, virtualized or hybrid cloud, or move it among public cloud instances, requires that software not be tied to a server or a geography, providing mobility as needed.

One of the biggest challenges IT faces is how to overcome the perception of being a utility or a budget line item that doesn’t enable business outcomes. This viewpoint is gradually eroding as more companies are adopting a digital business strategy.

When the discussion about IT effectiveness is backed by financial details, the tone of the conversation changes quickly. Chargeback and its financial twin, showback, are used to demonstrate to the business how much IT really does cost. The network infrastructure needs to be maintained and updated and application performance monitoring identifies problems proactively to remediate them. Yet the business sees only purchase cost, not the infrastructure that supports IT.

By “showing back” the costs to deliver a service, business units can be more judicious about the SLAs they expect from IT. If costs don’t align with expected return, the project must be reevaluated. Cost control can be realized in one report. Chargeback, while not widely implemented, is another mechanism for IT to elevate itself above a utility, especially when the business is looking for IT to enable a new project.

Automation and integration are the hallmarks of this level. All of the different areas in collaboration may be integrating their domain-specific tools into a configuration management database (CMDB) that is owned by service delivery.

At this level, costs can be easily budgeted, risks are expected, timeframes have shortened considerably, and service quality is high. The business has confidence in IT’s ability to partner with it and help it deliver on its goals and objectives as a team.

Is your organization operating at the Shared level? Click below to download Ivanti’s ITAM/SAM Attainment Model and learn exactly where you rank.