8 tips on bridging ITAM and ITSM

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by | March 3, 2021

At ITAMOrg, we often hear that IT Asset Management (ITAM) is complicated and there is so much work to be done. So, where do you start? ITAMOrg CEO, Jan Oeberg will give an answer and tips on bridging with ITSM.

Well, when you are only focusing on ITAM, the full picture can become complicated, and the route is long and it will take a long time to get there. But – it really is worth doing it. And doing nothing to control your IT environment is simply not the way forward. There are so many risks and threats related to IT and lack of control, which can severely challenge your business. ITAM will be helpful, but it must be identified, managed, and controlled.

ITAM is not only about cost savings. Today, the single most important factor is risk avoidance. You must keep in mind that all recommendations from authoritative sources on IT Security recommend as the first step “get your IT Assets under control – which means identified, managed and controlled”. You cannot secure your IT environment if you do not know what you have and how it is used.

Secondly, you need to remember that ITAM is not everything. You can benefit by also having focus on your IT Service Management (ITSM) setup and consider how this can be helpful to implement ITAM in your organisation. ITAM & ITSM are like brother and sister who should work together towards the same objectives.

In the latest release of ITIL – ITIL 4 – ITAM has been adopted as one of the 34 practices. This and further tips on ITAM and ITSM integration is also covered in a blogpost at Purple Griffon.

ITAMOrg have listed 8 tips to get you started, which include bridging between ITAM and ITSM. Closer collaboration between ITAM and ITSM is key in support of the wider IT and business organization;

1.    Break down the siloes and see the potential
For many organizations, it could be a huge challenge to get started with an ITAM project – to get IT Assets under control and managed and an implementation of a lot of new processes.

But taking a holistic view on the operation and existing processes in your organisation, and you will properly conclude – it is much more about alignment and integration between ITSM, ITAM and IT System Management (ITSS).

Most organisations already have implemented ITSM with at least Request Fulfilment, Change Management Incident Management and Service Asset and Configuration Management (SACM) and to some level using ITSS monitoring tools to identify events and alerts happening in the IT Infrastructure. If you have got this in place, you are on the way to moving forward, so know we are talking about integration.

In the ITAM area there is a need for different tools to support the ITAM needs – keeping software, licenses and right to use (entitlements) under control and available.

Comparing the full list of ITAM processes with the full list of ITSM processes will identify the overlap, most of the ITAM processes would be handled by the ITSM processes. Then as an IT Asset Manager, you can focus on the remaining process, which is often broken down to IT Asset identification and data management, and of course focus on how to setup the integration between IT Asset Inventory / Repository and the ITSM processes.

So, breaking down the silos is about seeing the picture, planning your actions and getting aligned with ITSM.

2.    Keep it simple
One step by each other – not sure what this means? It’s best to keep in mind that building IT Asset Control is continuous and will never end. There will always be a need for maturing the content and controls together with changing technologies, which must be managed.

Getting started is about IT Asset identification, control and maintenance of your IT Assets and recognize there is a lot of it and with different technologies from end-user computers, servers, integrations, network etc on different platforms. My recommendation to you is to manage it step by step and make sure you have got the processes setup either by integration or definition/implementation of a new process so data would be maintained.
E.g., Identification of end-user devices including what is installed on the device. Enable the Request Fulfillment, Incident Management to help maintaining the data. Make your data available for those processes. Enable your software distribution process, which properly is part of your Request Fulfillment process.

By identifying the Hardware entities, you have your end-user devices under control, and it is part of your IT Asset Inventory and by ensuring the integration to the ITSM processes you also enabled the data maintenance. Typically, this will also be a CMDB containing the end-user devices, which also would be part of the SACM process.

You have finalized the identification of your end-user devices and can plan and move forward to the next level of hardware identification e.g., Servers

3.    Your Service Asset and Configuration Management System (CMS)
By identifying your different asset types, this will enable multiple CMDB, which will help you to manage and control your IT Assets. You have built your IT Asset Inventory.

It’s time to enable your CMS system and create a logical model, which will help you to setup the relations and dependencies between your IT Assets. E.g., user and devices, end-user devices and software, servers and business systems, servers and software, business systems and users etc.

From an IT Asset Management perspective, the CMS system is important because it identifies what is currently used and by whom, and secondly it also gives information about what is not used and maybe should be retired for disposal or re-use. Comparing the CMS with your IT Asset Inventory will help you to enable you IT Asset Repository with information of IT Assets not used and is available either for disposal or re-use. Your IT Asset repository must be available for at least the Request Fulfilment process.

The most important part of your CMS is the relationship between your IT Assets to identify the usage of IT Assets.

4.    Your Service Asset and Configuration Management System (CMS)
Setting up your CMS-system is very beneficial for the IT Asset Manager. It is now possible to optimize the IT Asset portfolio. There should now be a clear view of what is installed, operational and used e.g., an end-user has access to a lot of software installed on the device. From a business perspective this could expensive.

It is possible for the IT Asset Manager to report the usage of the software. Has it been used over the last 3, 6, 12 months? If not, there could be a potential cost reduction either by avoiding acquisition on new licenses because the software and license could be re-used, or the Software portfolio could be decreased. The fact is that the end-user will not notice which software is installed on the device unless it is commonly used.

So, this is about using your IT Asset data to optimize the IT Asset portfolio and create awareness about the usage of IT Assets.

5.    Support team to improve data
The IT Support team is an important part of identifying and maintaining IT Asset Information.

If the IT Support agent identify an IT Asset which is not registered, it’s time to make it done so it will be part of the Asset inventory. In the same way when an IT Asset is changed the information about this IT Asset must be updated.

Correct information in the IT Asset Inventory and CMS system is an important factor to support resolving issues by quick identification of the root-cause by having access to right and updated information and hereby remedies more quickly. That is beneficial for the IT Support and Business.

The IT Support Team are not the only ones who will benefit from the complete IT Asset Inventory, IT Security IT Security will have access through the CMS-system to identify security weaknesses in the IT infrastructure and can also act more quickly on security alerts and breaches

6.     ITAM data accuracy
Maintaining the IT Asset Inventory and CMS data is important. ITSM process integration to ITAM is a must. Incident, Request Fulfillment and Change Management should be enabled so the IT Asset Inventory is maintained by adding, remove or changes. This helps to maintain and ensure IT Asset data accuracy.

System Management tools help to identify any changes in the IT infrastructure. From an IT Asset Manager perspective, it would be helpful to setup integrations to the IT monitoring tools either to help maintaining IT Asset Information or at least validate changes in the IT Infrastructure. By enabling the monitoring tools, this will help to identify IT Assets not used or installed but not part of the IT Asset inventory. For example, the leave of an employee, the support team are removing the access rights, but the return of the physical asset is overlooked.

7.    Self-audit and control
When all or part of the IT Asset Inventory information is available and controlled, it is possible to mature the validation of the use of IT Assets.

It is not complicated. Most organizations already have enabled Self-Service portal solutions connected to Request Fulfillment process and Service Catalogue.

It is now possible to give users/managers access to this information related to them. An end-user can see the list of IT Assets where the user is registered as the owner of the IT Asset. A department manager can see a list of employees which are owners or users of IT Assets etc. Users and Managers now have the possibility to validate the current use of IT Assets and can initiate changes. This is IT Asset validation and optimization.

This is a simple way to validate and optimize the IT Asset Inventory portfolio and get feedback from the end-user and business organization.

8.    Optimization of IT Asset portfolio
Getting access to all the IT Asset Information and CMS data will help identify where the weaknesses are and where a potential technology refresh could be initiated.

The ITAM data on different levels will help identify the full scope of the refresh including hardware, software costs etc. A complete ITAM data will also help to identify opportunities for cost savings in the IT Asset Portfolio together with risk avoidance.

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