The ITAM Review

News, reviews and resources for worldwide ITAM, SAM and Licensing professionals.

Defining Our ITAM Identity

By Adrian Bridgwater, Editor. 

Can a LinkedIn discussion transmogrify into a technical analysis editorial piece? That is what I wanted to find out by starting some level of discussion on the ITAM Review’s LinkedIn conversation board when I suggested that it might be prudent to go back to basics and ask what we really mean by IT Asset Management.

I started off by suggesting that we look at the explanation provided by technology publishing house

 TechTarget, which classifies Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) as follows.

Enterprise asset management (EAM) is a broad term vendors use to describe software that provides managers with a way to view company-owned assets holistically.

It’s good, but not perhaps as deep as we might perhaps want, given the specialism of our readers and community on the ITAM Review.

Thankfully, Ralph Guarrieri was first to step up to the plate and offer some extra colour. Guarrieri is manager for global procurement and software asset management at Reed Elsevier in Philadelphia and he says that asset management is near and dear to his heart.

The three-headed monster

“I like the model of the three-headed monster. Head #1 is Inventory — Knowing what you have, where it is, who is using it and what division owns it. Head #2 is Entitlements — Knowing what you’re entitled to have deployed and in use, this is done by reconciling inventory with contracts and agreements etc. Finally Head #3 is Payments — Knowing where the canceled cheque is or the invoice or purchase order that shows you have indeed paid for the rights to use the deployed inventory. This, for me, is software asset management defined,” wrote Guarrieri.

At the time of Guarrieri’s comments I asked whether we could extend the analogy and ask what happens if we “fail to tame” the three-headed monster? 
Equally, how do we know when the beast has been domesticated and allowed to live indoors with the rest of humans?

Are we trying to boil the ocean?

The danger with this type of discussion is that once we all start trying to analyse and pinpoint our place in the global IT solar system, we risk going ever deeper into each point of interest to an increasingly granular level. I say danger like it is an inherently negative thing, but it’s not. As technologists we enjoy digging deep into the subject in hand, but we may need to set a cut off point for ourselves so that we don’t risk trying to boil the ocean.

Rory Canavan is a process and licensing consultant at Flexera Software in the English town of Warrington. He asks whether it would be worth deconstructing this a little further and asking what constitutes an enterprise? What number of seats are we talking about? What is the complexity of IT infrastructure? What range of vendors should we cover? He makes a good point, how deep do we make our analysis of asset management?

“Ralph Guarrieri’s analogy works very well, however I think we need a fourth #4 “head” if we are to demonstrate management — and that would be the reconciliation/optimisation of information. Otherwise we are merely talking about inventory /data collection,” wrote Canavan.

Rounding out our initial analysis here — and we do hope for more discussion please — is David J Keith, who is CEO at the Center for Infrastructure Management Advancement in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Keith argues that maybe defining asset management would be easier if we first defined the purpose and value of doing it.

“For many organisations ITAM is an advanced version of inventory and document management. For others it’s tracking and documenting the events affecting the asset throughout its lifecycle. For a small percentage it’s doing all of the above while collaborating with ITSM and ITFM for optimising the infrastructure hence maximising the value derived from the investment. Each of those three groups are correct, if it’s based on the vision and goals they need to accomplish,” wrote Keith.

He extends his comments suggesting that a good analogy might be having a goal to build a car instead of an asset management programme. “The kind of car you build and the capabilities it has are solely based on your vision and goals of what needs must be fulfilled. Do you need basic fuel-efficient transportation or do you need a custom-built build car to carry and protect a head of state? Either way it takes careful planning and proper execution.”

What is IT Asset Management in your world?

Keith is level headed about the subject as a whole and suggests that perhaps we should start from a position of asking, “What is IT Asset Management in your world?” From this point we might, just possibly, find a definition of ITAM (like when a “best practice” standard is created) that works best for the largest percentage of respondents and becomes the basis of our definition.

You can comment further on this article directly, or if you prefer to join the LinkedIn discussion you can access it from this link: http://linkd.in/GApbiB

About Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist specialising in cross platform software application development and data analytics as well as all related aspects of software engineering and project management.

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