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How Well is ITAM Integrated into ITSM?

Back in August I conducted a survey into how ITAM is integrated into ITSM. Thank you to all those who took the time to participate.

I believe there is a great opportunity to bring ITAM and ITSM closer together for mutual benefit. This survey asked how ITAM was positioned within the respondents company and the level of integration between the two disciplines.

In a nutshell: There is a desire to integrate ITAM and ITSM. But for the majority, they are separate or only partially integrated entities.

Where Does ITAM Sit In The Business? 

Firstly, respondents were asked their reporting lines. I was interested to see where ITAM sat as a business function in relation to ITSM. 45% said their ITAM function was a part of ITSM, 24% said it sat within a finance function and 17% reported directly to CIO/CXO. I can see the logic in placing ITAM in each one of these departments, but for long term value and efficiency I believe the best fit is either within ITSM or directly to the CIO. ITAM should be a proactive function – not just clearing up the mess and ensuring compliance but providing a dashboard of the costs and value of services so the business can change accordingly.

ITAM and ITSM Integration

Next respondents were asked the level of integration between their ITAM and ITSM functions. 55% said it was a completely separate entity, 24% said is was only partially integrated and 21% said that the two functions were fully integrated. As I have said before, ITAM can help ITSM quantify value and justify its existence, whilst ITSM can help ITAM be a proactive BAU process rather than being campaign led.

Anecdotally: 

  • “Very integrated.  ITSM works within and is included as part of ITAM as a whole.”
  • “Silo and decentralized”
  • “Partially integrated. ITAM is seen as license counting where as ITSM covers all ITIL processes.”
  • “ITAM and ITSM function as separate departments within our IT division of the organization. Mainly, ITSM delivers and supports hardware and software with end customers whereas ITAM manages contractual obligations and lifecycle tracking from acquisition to disposal. However, both collaboratively work on setting standards for IT equipment and software as well as addressing non-standard requests. ITAM owns the designation and policing of those standards.”
  • “It has been difficult for folks here to understand both the relationships between ITIL and ITAM, and the differences.  I continually rehash.  The repository should be linked to the CMDB, because they share some information, but they serve two separate purposes.”
  • “Getting tighter. We’ve started becoming a source of truth for contractual and inventory data into the CMDB”
  • “Systems are unconnected.  Teams report to different managers, but both report up to CIO.”
  • “Today, there is no integration. We are involved in starting 2nd generation of ServiceManagement (ITIL V3). Along with this, we are starting to create a Asset Management function, which will integrate with ITSM.”

Finally, ITAM Review readers were asked what they need help with regarding ITSM (This is the rudder which guides future content):

  • “Helping identify reasons to justify a closer integration between the two areas – the target audience is ITSM – persuading them to take ITAM seriously.”
  • “ITSM Management Tools, Trends, News, Studies and Experiences”
  • “Understanding the performance metrics for AM through ITSM processes”
  • “Building a strong business case for integration between ITAM and ITSM”
  • “Benchmark figures about maintaining ITSM products. I.e what does it cost to maintain Remedy vs Topdesk, vs HP ITSM etc.”
  • “Clarify the licensing metrics of each vendors. Have a place where people can share there experiences.”
  • “Understand how SAM can integrate with ITIL process but how much it should retain it’s own identity and visibility.  Its important not to loose it in the ITIL stable as we have spent years fighting for it’s independence and importance.  As for the Hardware assets, guidance on how to distiguish between Configuration Management and Asset Management and how they co-exist effectively and without confusion would be useful.”
  • “The dynamic of ITSM delivering software to end customers, and ITAM working to track and control the licensing. In our organization it is a struggle to clearly communicate the intricacies of licensing to our ITSM technicians for the thousands of applications we support. It is much the same for trying to communicate the severity of non-compliance.”
  • “The relationship between SAM and the ITIL framework.  (In our organization, service management falls under the CIO org, but asset management falls under the CFO org.)  I’d like to know how other companies have integrated the two.”
  • “Integrating the service desk, asset management and procurement into a communicating entity”
  • “How ITAM fits into the SACM space. A is for Asset which comes before Configuration. Which is true from a procurement perspective. However CI’s need to come before Change, Incident and Problem Management. Bottom Line, how to integrate ITAM into ITSM and win support of its needs for the business from a ITSM perspective.”
  • “Help us determine right tool that best fits our environment.  Is straight SaaS the way to go?  SaaS solution hosted onsite?  On-premise solution?  Who are the key vendors?”
  • “I agree with you.  I think there is significant overlap between ITAM and ITSM which are not commonly realized.  Your focus on this overlap would be helpful.”

ITAM Review Readers completed surveys during August 2011. 58 Responses (USA 59%, UK 14% Other 28%).

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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 is the Chief Agitator at the Campaign for Clear Licensing, a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the SAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770 and board member of Free ICT Europe which supports the ICT secondary market.

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

9 Comments

  1. Mark Boggia says:

    There is some evidence from other industry survey’s that dissatisfaction with tools is a factor in the poor level of integration; as most organisations appreciate the value in terms of reduced cost and higher quality service of integrating ITSM and ITAM. Interestingly Gartner now refer to ITOM IT Operations Management, for this converged space.

  2. Cary King says:

    Perhaps it is better if we consider that it is not, necessarily, advantageous for IT Asset Management to be integrated with IT operations. Perhaps the ITIL v3 idea of asset management being a part of configuration management be more thoroughly examined.

    There are portions of what are, traditionally, asset management – the distributed, physical in-house supply chain steps that seem to me fit very well with the SACM guidance. In fact, in most companies IMAC activities are performed by IT operations staff using their Service Management tool to report back some status data to the CMDB – location, user, configuration changes, etc.

    There are other portions of ITAM that seem to fit better with the centralized management functions of IT Finance, Enterprise Architecture, Service Portfolio Management, Contract Management, Supplier Management.

    Perhaps we might consider that the older paradigm of asset management as a single activity needs to be, instead, thought of as a service instead of as a functional group. The service can be independent, modular, and loosely-coupled to exchange appropriate data with other “services.”

    If we view ITAM as part of the centralized information resource management group that serves to manage the over 50% of the IT budget that is assets (and even more as we add Cloud and discrete outsourcing contracts)from a stewardship and logistics management point of view then the focus changes a bit.

    We might want to consider that, since we already “subcontract” tooperations groups to perform the IMAC and software release/management functions, then the place for ITAM’s real value is in the stewardship view.

    ITAM seems to me to offer unique value as the control point before acquistion requests are sent to corporate purchasing – according to standards set by Enterprise Architecture.

    ITAM seems to offer unique value as supplemental information for contract and financial managers for the biggest part of the IT investment portfolio – acquired hardware, software, telecommunication and services, including cloud.

    If the focus on ITAM is changed to be managers of compliance, control, accuracy and stewardship as performed by internal and external subcontractors – then that would seem to fit with the increasing use of cloud and outsourcing.

  3. A key to understanding the challenge of management focus and philosophy between the ITAM and ITSM Crowds is that ITAM focuses on or overlaps with a half a dozen or so ITSM processes from a financial perspective. (EG: Financial Management, Supplier Management, Service Level Management, Change Management, Request Fulfillment, Service Desk and of course Service Asset and Configuration).

    Yes ITAM focuses on full lifecycle management (Procure, Retire) but so does Service Management.
    From an ITSM perspective there are many life cycles to manage. (Data Lifecycle, Infrastructure Lifecycle, Application Lifecycle, System Lifecycle, Service Lifecycle and perhaps even Service offer Lifecycle)

    I have believed for years that the ITSM and ITAM communities are looking at the same processes from different angles, as opposed to looking at separate capabilities.

    In my view the primary reason they are separate today has more to do with organizational structure and task specialization then the processes themselves

    Troy DuMoulin

  4. Cary King says:

    Troy,

    I believe there has been ample empirical evidence of the great value to a service-oriented view of asset management that is well and tightly-integrated with the service management processes to which asset management adds value – the list you provide. Asset Management has repeatedly demonstrated value in enforcing EA governance in cutting costs and complexity of IT.

    What I’m suggesting is that there may be good reason to consider specifically rejecting the ITIL Service Asset and Configuration Management implication that Asset Management and Configuration Management should be a single process, function or organization within IT Operations.

    Before I’m branded as an ITIL heretic by the fervent ITIL clergy, let me communicate that it seems to me at this time that IT organization should consider an alternative to the implied ITIL guidance and that the asset management “service” should be modular and independent. Particularly from Configuration Management so that is not subject only to the limitations to the needs of IT Operations function.
    I conceive that IT organizations might wish to consider the value in ensuring that integration amongst the various “services” be loosely-coupled from other service management functions in accordance with service strategy guidance instead of tightly-coupled as so often occurs in practice. Certainly, that does not mean they should not share the same data model and database. Rather, that the data architecture they rely upon and the roles be clearly identified and separate from configuration management – something, it seems, not often done when the asset management organization resides within IT operations and configuration management.

    One of my key assumptions is that service portfolio management strategy may (I believe will), increasingly, use multisourcing and cloud as part of the service delivery mechanism. Stewardship of the assets in which the corporation has invested, along with the associated contracts and costs, may, therefore, take on a greater importance in support of the multisourcing / cloud approach as compared to the “home manufactured” traditional approach to services.

    A business maxim is that we can outsource the work, but not the responsibility. We will, I conceive, see Service Portfolio Managers seeking to manage the different productive lifecycles – Application Service, Infrastructure Service, Technology Product, and IT Asset – with other associated lifecycles (i.e., contracts, purchasing, fulfillment, service catalog, vendor catalogs, supplier management) as part of the multisourcing management needs.

    On the other hand, Configuration Management is one of the processes that may be largely outsourced – along with whole data centers. The need to manage assets (along with the associated contracts and costs) will, however, remain as part of governance and multisourcing management needs.

    IT Asset Management can only provide excellent value to the services it supports when it is integrated with those services. I’m simply suggesting that companies may wish to consider how multisourcing may affect which parts of the SACM / Asset management processes are likely to be distributed to individual service management teams or outsourced versus those centralized to support the stewardship needs.

  5. Jenny says:

    What is a Service Management Related Department?

  6. Cary King says:

    Jenny,

    Service Management Related Department?

    Since we’re talking about ITIL, most would define it as IT as it provides service to “the rest of the company.”

    Others would define it more broadly – I have a customer, for instance, that has a scope of supporting internal IT and their customers (dealers).

    Service Management is, to me, about the provision of a defined services portfolio to a defined market – however the organization may choose to define that market. Consistent, reliable (measured) execution is the value add.

    It appears to me that asset management is, in many companies, being combined with facilites, telephony, transportation, manufacturing floor equipment management, etc. Whether one views it as Asset Management (PAS 55), ITAM, ITSM, etc. there seems to be a convergence occuring – particularly through multisourcing.

    That was a strategy that Peregrine Systems identified more than a decade ago. I’m seeing ever more of it now – particularly in manufacturing companies. An IP addressable item becomes part of the asset or service management domain.

    It seems to me that all of these “good practices” have valueable IP that can be integrated into the adopted practices – ISO 9000/1, USMBOK, ITIL, ISO 20000, ITAMBOK, PAS 55, TAMBOK, IACCM maturity, EA, Lean, Six Sigma, Supplier Management, etc.

    It seems to me that focusing exclusively on a part of one set of guidance is unlikely to result in an ideal approach. That’s why I use several of these guidance pieces to contrast against each other in my work with customers.

    Development of processes that actually work seems to me to require that the actual workers are involved with defining their work. W. Edwards Deming wrote that, “Two basic rules of life are: 1) Change is inevitable, 2) Everybody resists change.”

  7. Steve says:

    Slightly discussed, duplication of effort managing two lifecycles for Assets and CIs. Newer ITSM toolsets look to combine Asset/CI data in the same record, not only does this remove duplication of effort but also removes the requirement to reconcile disparate datasets. Yes, agree the sub-process functions SAM, HAM and Config will still have their independent tasks/activities but ultimately the control of these Assets/CIs resides with ITSM not just to support ITSM Processes but also accurate service controlled information to support Business functions such as Finance, Commercial and Security. Added with the ability to generate Management Information reports from a single database as said ealier, the ability to measure costs of logical CIs such as Business Services, Business Systems and Business Applications. Asset lifecycle passes through Service before disposal, it makes sense to integrate ITAM with SACM, after all SACM is the umbrella joining the sub-processes together. ITIL v3 assumes more about Asset Mgt than it reveals – maybe if we dropped CI and Asset and just called them Service Assets as referenced in ITIL then some confusion may be removed. While I’m on it, ‘Service’ Assets does not mean only assets that go into Live Service but all assets that support Services throughout the organisation from development through to Live.

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