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The ITAM Consultant – Skills and Experience

Motivated Evangelist, Practical Fixer or Control Freak? What have you got in your ITAM toolkit?

Motivated Evangelist, Practical Fixer or Control Freak? What have you got in your ITAM toolkit?

I receive quite a few ITAM related CVs across my desk in the average week, so I thought I would share what I consider to be the most redeeming qualities for ITAM professionals and how those qualities have changed as the market has evolved.

We see Licence Management as a specialist subset of ITAM, but the people we tend to hire these days have a completely different profile to those we might have hired a few years ago. We’re now very much looking for data oriented people – it’s all about the data.

Whilst licence management is probably the ultimate data challenge, compliance calculations still depend on ‘hardware’ aspects such as CPU/core/socket, virtualisation relationships, clustering, asset status/environment and the underlying contents of multiple desynchronised discovery sources.

Hardware data reconciliation has an impact for configuration management as well as licence management. It also has major knock on implications for outsourcer billing, internal chargeback and support, amongst other significant areas. Configuration programmes are now stressing these ‘golden record’ activities.

So, much of ITAM and licence management benefit now needs complex data to be acquired, managed and brought together.

In my opinion the six key qualities of ITAM professionals include:

  1. Analytics – the self-discipline to work through dry documentation and spreadsheets, extracting key information, analysing and modelling. Forensics and the focussed detail to work through the bones of a contract or dataset.
  2. Licensing Smarts – awareness or working knowledge of software licensing models, metrics and calculations
  3. Contract Smarts – awareness or working knowledge of asset related contract, financial and procurement terminology
  4. A Licensing Niche – It is advantageous for ITAM professionals to have in-depth skills and experience with at least a few vendors under their belt e.g. Microsoft, Oracle, SAP
  5. Work Ethic– a customer first work ethic. The discipline to strive for the right result for the customer and the staying power to get the job done, often in the face of unreasonable demands
  6. Consulting – the ability to truly consult with clients and deal with relationships and situations holistically, more on this below

The ability to consult

Quite a few ITAM professionals cut their teeth in Large Account Resellers (LAR), or large end user organisations.

LARS often allow ambitious individuals to pick up considerable licensing expertise and exposure to customer requirements and the negotiation cycle. It is not unusual for former licensing account managers with a couple of years experience with SAM to enter the UK consulting market with a £60-£70K price on their head. Plus bonus.

Unfortunately licensing expertise alone is no longer good enough. ITAM professionals also need the knowledge of licensing with that of IT service provision and complex technical environments. And they need to be able to educate and lead, not just react.

The ability to consult is critical. IT Asset Managers in large end user firms tend to gain a lot of experience fast, and earn less than LAR commercial folks. However, they often don’t want to travel and frequently don’t have the personality and/or motivation to join professional services firms. Nothing wrong with that of course; it just makes recruiting for ITAMS harder.

It is often difficult to pinpoint the strengths above on a CV but it is definitely demonstrable in a remarkable ITAM professional – it is a mixture of project management, commercial savvy, technical knowhow and the gravitas brought by experience of working with senior people close to the money.

Motivated Evangelist, Practical Fixer or Control Freak?

We have witnessed the emergence of three definite styles in the ITAM market:

  1. The motivated evangelist, strategy, consultant, relationship builder
  2. The practical fixer, the detail person, the analyst
  3. The control freak and project manager, with specialised knowledge

One style is not better than the others and most individuals will have a mixture  – but our experience tells us that in a team, all three are needed to deliver effective, efficient ITAM and/or licence management programmes

Skills Shortage

In the UK we’re facing a real shortage of ITAM professionals. At my firm we’ve started to take the approach of delivering more services off site, which allows us to build knowledge and our teams in a structured environment. Personally though, I want to avoid offshoring but unless government make it easier and lower cost for businesses like ours to train newcomers, perhaps this is inevitable?

The industry is very much on the up and we urgently need more bandwidth and skills to cope with increased demand. Building your ITAM skills and experience is not an easy path but those wishing to invest time and effort into this market will be rewarded with a satisfying career and the opportunity to make a difference.

Whether you are a seasoned ITAM professional or newcomer to the industry I welcome your feedback, and I wish you all the best.

About Paul Sheehan

Paul is co-founder of IT Asset Management Solutions (ITAMS) and heads up the consulting team and delivery operation. With over 25 years of industry experience, he takes an active role as Managing Consultant and strategic advisor to the company’s medium to large clients.

In recent years he has been instrumental in developing and delivering tailored managed services for licence management in collaboration with enterprise clients.

6 Comments

  1. Rory Canavan says:

    Excellent read; I would be interested to know what efforts are being made by the education sector to highlight SAM as a career to aim for

  2. Ryan Hardcastle says:

    Unfortunately I doubt there is a lot of effort. The main reason being that ITAM / SAM is quite a niche skill-set and it’s not likely that mainstream education will be able to do it justice.

    ITAM and ITIL in general fall into their own category under Professional Services. It isn’t ‘sexy’ enough to be considered IT as the layman understands it, and it is too complex to be under ‘generic management’. It’s a hard sell to the younger generation, who I would suggest, consider piracy to be the norm.

    In my experience most of those that haven’t come from a sales background have either come from a datacentre / systems management role for HAM and most SAM / licensing people have “fallen into it”. At least that was how I got into it!

  3. Claude Njoh says:

    I really appreciate all this development, as newcomer forecasting ITAM skills,I have the same interest to know what is in place about education to meet the aims.

  4. John Tomeny says:

    Rory, in the US, The International Association of IT Asset Management (IAITAM) has teamed up with William Howard Taft University to create a “Master of Science in Information Technology” – with a concentration in Asset Management (MSITAM). You can read about it here: https://www.iaitam.org/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?Site=IAITAM&WebCode=MSITAM

  5. David Foxen says:

    A great read.

    Rory, in response to your comment, I would say that SAM will never be highlighted by the education sector. Until I started working in IT, I didn’t even know SAM existed! I think that SAM does need to be taught at GCSE/A-Level ICT! If I’d have known about it at school, then I would have been able to start my career in SAM a lot sooner than I did!

  6. Guest says:

    Paul, contradiction here ” A Licensing Niche – It is advantageous for ITAM professionals to have in-depth skills and experience with at least a few vendors under their belt e.g. Microsoft, Oracle, SAP..”
    You either have in dept skills and experience with one vendor niche or else you don’t at all… Generalist ITAM consultants claiming expertise on more than one vendor are notes experts, but generalists and should not be tasked with ownership of high spend vendors…
    that said, one might get away with it for low value desktops SAM.

    Interested in thoughts from others

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