The ITAM Review

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Secret Diary of an IT Manager: Getting started with ITAM

ITAM Basics

When getting started with ITAM you’ve got to first stop the rot!

I started my previous article trying to paint a rough picture of what our ITAM estate was like without giving too much away and blowing my secret identity. I was very grateful for the number of responses the article received on various forms of social media, and everything said has been taken on board and is greatly appreciated.

Stopping the rot

The first thing I did after the last article was to stop the ad-hoc purchases and general miss management of software and software licenses. I started to do this before, but I’ve really been focusing on gathering all of our license details from our various heads of department and also getting all of our invoices for software and hardware from finance. Whilst there were a number of mumbles and grumbles, lots of eye rolling and puffing of cheeks, I can safely say that I have received 80% of the department heads software, and invoices from the last three years from finance.

Carrying out this exercise has made me gain confidence that we are starting to get on top of the situation. I now have a much better idea of our entitlement and have started to populate the licenses into a simple database so I can see what our license numbers are.  Obviously this isn’t a quick win, but I am confident that we are stopping the rot and implementing strong foundations for a successful ITAM project.

Moving towards a centralized software estate

I mentioned in the last article that our software estate was very decentralized and all over the place. Having managed to acquire various licenses from department heads and invoices from finance I can see that we have been purchasing all manner of software (most of which I can bet on has only been used once or twice and is now just sitting on the machine doing nothing). I’ve started removing certain software from machines, software that was originally a free trial, unlicensed software, or software our helpdesk simply don’t have the expertise to support. We have been doing this manually as we haven’t got a tool in place to monitor usage. This is a slow process, but at least we are making a start.

I have also started to create a software library so that all users know what software is approved and available to them. I haven’t made this available yet to our users, as it is no-where near being completed, but I hope to have this document completed within the next few weeks. I am also adding a little description box for each application that describes what the software is and how it is licensed. I hope that creating this software library will help us move towards a centralized software estate and will also ease our licensing issues, help us save money and also reduce the pressure on our helpdesk staff with regards to support.

Getting the basics right

I’ve been creating and implementing basic ITAM processes and policies and getting the General Manager and Directors to approve and give their full support to the changes I want and need to make. We have had several positive meetings and they have approved a few basic policies and processes. I have now therefore started to implement and communicate these processes and policies to our users.

So far I have created a software use policy, software request process and software procurement process. These are really basic and I’m sure ITAM professionals would look at them and think they were missing key details, but it is a start and at least we have something official down on paper. I will work on updating these in due course, but I felt that it was important to at least have something in place, even if it is the basic of the basics!

Introducing ITAM to other departments so we can work together!

Along with creating the basic processes and policies I’ve also been involving other departments in the ITAM plan. I’ve gained the support of the finance staff (which is where our procurement team sit) and also the various heads of departments to ensure they support the new ITAM program and communicate the changes to their teams. I feel that the support of the other heads of departments is key to the success of our ITAM project. With them on board I feel that the implementation of an ITAM ethos will be made a little easier!

Whilst I have the support of other department heads, I still have to work on the Directors and other senior staff members. I have so far received support for the implementation of the basic processes and policies, but this is as far as I’ve got at the moment. I’m hoping that if I keep a record of the progress we are making, and am able to highlight the improvements in software related issues, then there may be further support down the line for a tool of some sort, or even help with implementation and education for our users. 

The next steps

The basic processes and policies have been active for a good few weeks now, and they are working very well. As I said in my last article, I am now approving all software and software maintenance requests for the company. This is allowing me to gain greater control over our software estate and also save money. Our software spend for May is down almost 50% on our spending for February, simply because I now have a say in what software is purchased. I should always have had a say, but we can’t change the past!

I feel as though we have started to build a solid ITAM foundation. We now have basic ITAM processes and policies in place, we have an approval system in place and we are also starting to get a grip of our current licenses. Once we have gathered the rest of the department’s licenses and populated all of the information into a basic database, the next step is for us to look at our install base and marry that against our entitlement. I’m fully prepared for a few shocks, as I know for a fact some people have purchased software on their credit cards!

Conclusion

We’ve made progress. It’s a start. We have a long journey and a lot of hard work ahead of us, but I feel as though we are doing the right thing. I have another meeting with our Finance Director and General Manager in a few weeks to discuss the possibility of having some sort of senior management support for the ITAM program. Ideally, I’d like a budget for a tool of some sort, even if it is just for our desktop infrastructure. If not, then I have found a few free tools that I’m currently testing. I’ll report my findings in the next entry!

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About The Secret IT Manager

An experienced IT Manager who can still remember a time when floppy disk’s ruled and ‘desktops’ took up a whole room. Now moved on to the digital age as an IT Manager combating a wide variety of IT-related issues including problems with tablets, which I'd only ever used for headaches in the past!

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