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6 Ways to Build a Business Case for Inventory and Auto-Discovery

This article is based on a slide deck I used when I was punting software back in the year 2000. The ‘hexagon’ slides originated from a company called ‘Centennial’ (acquired by FrontRange) and were used to highlight six key areas that companies can explore to build a business case for inventory and auto-discovery technology.

The terminology has changed, buzzwords have come and gone and the platforms have mushroomed in the last decade but the principles remain the same.

Companies can easily build a solid business case using each one of the six segments, or a combination. Having six ways to justify a business case is not necessarily a blessing, I’ve seen projects shudder to a halt as a committee of stakeholders argue over ownership. In my experience it is best to pick one solid argument and run with it.

1. Strategy

Firstly, providing accurate data to enable informed decisions. Company A buys Company B, the new CIO wants to know what he is taking on, how to merge the two IT operations and how to deliver efficiencies. Inventory allows the organization to take stock and make decisions based on fact – not fiction.

2. Financial

We spent a £1 Billion on IT last year. Where did the money go? Identify applications at end of life. Identify machines at end of lease. Only renew contracts for assets you are actually using.

3. Projects

Accurate information to support application upgrades, operating system migrations and restructuring. e.g. We’re moving to Windows 7, we need to see which devices are ‘capable’ and consolidate our software applications in preparation for migration .

4. Security

Track Installs, Moves and Changes and see if they agree with schedule changes or policies. Identify unwanted behavior, applications or users. An accurate view of network attached assets.

5. Support

Resolve support calls quicker with accurate information and diagnostics on the devices being supported. This was justifiable a decade ago, it is even more justifiable nowadays with the development of self-service when an operator might begin investigating an incident when not in direct contact with the user.

Service desk administrators can also increase the ability to remotely manage a machine and use the  diagnostics associated with the incident to identify problems. e.g. If that machine experienced issues with the new service pack – it is likely that others users will experience similar difficulties – lets quickly identify which machines have been upgraded….

6. Compliance

Collect data to support license management. On the one hand avoid compliance risk, on the other hand avoid over-purchasing and inefficient purchasing of software. Monitor and manage compliance with IT policies.

As Bill Snyder mentioned during his session at the Gartner summit today, “Inventory is foundational”. Good inventory data that you trust allows you to take control of assets and 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. Similarly ISO/IEC 19770 refers to ‘Trustworthy Data’, all of which is underpinned by good accurate inventory data and associated processes.

An independent review of seven market leading inventory tools will be published soon. Subscribe to The ITAM Review monthly newsletter to be notified when it is published. 

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About Martin Thompson

Martin is owner and founder of The ITAM Review, an online resource and community for worldwide ITAM professionals.

Martin is also author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management.

On a voluntary basis Martin a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the ITAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770.

Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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