To have an effective and successful ITAM project an organisation needs to centralise and standardize their ITAM estate. This helps the ITAM team have a better overview of the ITAM estate, and also have more control over the hardware and software assets that the organisation currently has, and will procure in the future. It also helps save time, money and resources, as the organisation will have a centralised and standard list of hardware, software and various processes that are related to ITAM. This can also help reduce SLA (Service Level Agreement) times for software and hardware requests.
What is centralising?
Centralising is when an organisation assigns overall responsibility for something within a central location or department. For example, an organisation may decide to assign the ITAM department based at head office with the overall responsibility for the ITAM function, rather than having ITAM teams scattered across the world and various offices in charge of various elements of ITAM. This helps an organisation maintain control and have complete transparency over the hardware and software assets.
What is standardizing?
Standardising is pretty self-explanatory. It is when an organisation standardises the software, hardware, mobile assets, processes and policies that are related to ITAM. This results in an approved list of software that an organisation uses, or one or two hardware manufacturers that the organisation will procure hardware assets from.
Organisations usually provide a list of standard hardware and approved software via some sort of SharePoint system or on a shared drive for all employees to see what software and hardware they are eligible to have. For any new hardware requests that are not part of the standardised approved list, then there must be a procurement process in place for any such requests that are not part of the standard list. There should also be strong business justification for purchasing non-standard hardware.
New software requests can be dealt with slightly differently however as there is a huge library of software on the market today. Standardising software should be an on-going process whereby new requests for non-standard software should be considered in full by the ITAM team, and then if there is a demand for the new software it should be put forward for consideration for the standard software list.
We have offices all over the world; can we centralize our ITAM estate?
Yes, of course you can. However, it is important to remember that there may be different cultures within different regions that may have an impact on ITAM. The procurement methods used in one country may be different to those used in another. It is then important to make sure that the organisation creates processes and policies that can be used globally, to ensure that all offices are following the same methods for managing their ITAM estate.
It is important to take into account other peoples views and methods for managing the ITAM estate just so when the ITAM team moves more centrally they are more likely to be receptive and helpful to any changes that are made. If you do not listen to regional offices and make them feel as though their views have been considered and taken into account, then they are less likely to be helpful and ‘on-board’ with a new centralised way of doing ITAM.
How? Where do we start?
To start centralising and standardising your ITAM estate, you must first understand how each regional ITAM or IT department works, and what the current processes are. Communication and understanding is key at this point.
Firstly the organisation needs to communicate with all IT Offices that will ‘report’ into the central ITAM function. This may be a lengthy process, but it is a required one. It is important to understand how various offices are currently managing ITAM, and how they procure software and hardware assets. Speaking to different IT staff around the world will help the ITAM team have an understanding on what processes are currently working, what needs improvements and what is not being done at all. Conducting this form of internal research will allow the ITAM team to devise ITAM processes and policies that will work globally, rather than individual policies and processes for each regional office.
Once the ITAM team have an idea of what global processes and policies they would like to implement, they must then physically document what they would like to implement globally, to ensure they get feedback from local IT departments. It is then up to the ITAM team and local IT to liaise with each other to ensure that everyone is happy with, and will follow a standard, central ITAM process or policy.
The whole point of centralising your ITAM estate to is take off some of the pressure, responsibly and workload from local IT to a dedicated and expert ITAM team. The newly created processes and policies need to be communicated with all members of staff, and the new centralised ITAM team need to make themselves known as the ‘go-to-place’ for anything related to software, hardware or software licenses. This can be done via interactive workshops hosted by the ITAM team, a video or article on the intranet or SharePoint, or Q & A meetings with the new centralised ITAM team.
Standardising hardware and software can be a lengthy process, but the rewards are there for all to see. It is important at this stage to analyse existing hardware and software contracts to see if there are any that are up for renewal. This is the stage that the organisation should be looking at any ITAM solution that has been previously implemented to get an idea of the software that is currently installed. It is also important to use an inventory tool to establish what hardware manufactures and specification of hardware is installed within the environment.
To standardise software an organisation must first have visibility of what software is currently installed within the organisations estate. This can be done using a variety of tools, including dedicated SAM tools, inventory and discovery tools or even through the use of active directory (AD) systems. Once the organisation has the ability to analyse its install base and software that is in use, it can start to paint a picture of what applications will be on the standard, pre-approved list for all employee’s to use.
The start of the standardising process is to automatically standardise heavily used software such as email, word processing, PDF creation/editing or graphic design. Once you have decided what vendors and software will be part of the approved standard list, you can start to migrate any users using non-standard software onto the standard versions (once you have purchased the required licenses of course!).
Standardising your software estate can make the overall spending of software significantly cheaper and easier to manage, but it also helps other areas of the business such as the service desk support end users more effectively and quicker. Having thousands of different applications and vendors to support is a near impossible task, so having an approve list of software vendors will help the support staff provide expert support on a few applications.
Standardising hardware on the other hand is an altogether different challenge. The organisation may have a mixture of different hardware vendors already deployed throughout the estate. What the organisation should do, as it is part of ITAM best practice, is to have a single vendor for desktops and laptops, a single vendor for mobile devices and then a single vendor for any other forms of hardware such as printers, scanners etc. Using a discovery or inventory tool will provide the organisation with a list of different models and manufactures that are currently installed.
The organisation has two choices. Either leave the different hardware vendors machines out in their environment and gradually migrate over to a standard vendor or look to put their hardware estate out for tender. This basically means that they will contact hardware vendors, test various technologies and negotiate a deal with the manufacturer from them to provide the organisation with all of their hardware assets. The organisation can then dispose of the mismatched hardware in the legal ways, some methods will enable them to recoup some money back from the hardware if they are still in good condition.
Depending on the willingness and existing structure of the organisation, it can be a challenge to both convince the business to centralise and standardise their ITAM estate, but also to then make the required changes. For global organisations with a complex structure it may be difficult to get all of the required senior managers on board with the new way of doing things. Based on experience organisations do not like change, even if it is for the good of the company.
If an organisation is willing to make the required changes and start centralising and standardising their ITAM estate, then it is a process that will take time. Major changes like this do not happen overnight, and experience says that the ITAM team will need assistance from a project management team to assist them with the changes. It is worth it though!
Need help with finding the suitable SAM tool to standardise your software? Come along to our Tools Day on 20th November where you can get up to speed on the latest developments in ITAM tools innovation, raise queries with software tool vendors directly and connect with industry peers. Register here. It’s free.