By Tom Watson and Akash Mehta
Most companies institute a new ITAM system very infrequently. Accordingly, the likelihood of missing important requirements is high.
We know, because we frequently help initiate ITAM systems for companies. We’ve seen the negative consequences that derive from organizations neglecting the fundamentals. It’s vitally important to get it right, right from Step 1:
Every enterprise will be a bit different, but in our experience, the following are always included:
a. People. People are, of course, fundamental to any business. As part of an ITAM strategy, you want to identify the individuals who are part of the process, and what role they play in the process.
b. Departments: Once we’ve identified the individuals, you need to record the departments in which they’re involved, and the tasks assigned to those departments.
c. Cost Centers: One of the major goals of ITAM is to lower costs, so it’s important to clearly identify the areas of operations that are the source of those costs.
d. Locations: It helps if you know where the assets are, so it’s necessary to build in reporting processes that track by location. You’ll want to consider the level of detail to be included here, which could include everything from the facility’s address to an asset’s specific placement in an equipment rack.
e. Models and Catalogs: Another fundamental is determining exactly what to name a particular asset. Most of the time, this will be assigned by the manufacturer of the product, in the form of a model number.
f. Vendors: Last, but not least, you’ll need to identify the vendors with whom we do business. You’ll need to know who’s providing the hardware and software assets, by name and company.
Okay, once you’ve decided what information you want to track, it’s time to find out who should provide that information. Let’s look at the best sources for each set of data you’re seeking.
a. Active Directory and/or HR: The best place to obtain accurate data on people and departments is through an existing active company directory. The company Human Resources department is an excellent source for the most up-to-date information in this area.
The active directory and HR department can also be tapped for data regarding cost centers, but we’ve found that it’s also important to bring in the financial departments, responsible for cost accounting.
It’s a similar story with locations. While HR and an active directory can be used, it’s a good idea to check into resources provided by the corporate real estate department, if the company has one.
b. Models/Catalog: As we mentioned, model numbers are most often established by vendors, but the way they’re recorded can be proprietary to the company for whom the new ITAM system is being set up. That’s why it’s important to use an inventory discovery tool and, if applicable, the records derived from the previous asset management system.
c. Vendors: It’s in the best interest of vendors to provide all the information requested regarding past and ongoing orders, different invoicing systems and the like. The company’s vendor management team can lead the way in this endeavor.
The best way to make certain your foundational data requirements are met is to interact personally with the teams responsible for providing it.
It’s in these meetings that everyone can get on board with the priorities of the ITAM initiative. The teams can be made aware of their importance as providers of the “source of truth” for the data they deliver.
This is also where you’ll be best able to determine the specific fields that will be necessary to populate in the ITAM system.
Working with the departmental teams will help you decide whether the ITAM system should integrate with the department’s data directly, or be provided through data extracts.
Finally, you’ll be able to establish the frequency of data updates necessary to ensure system accuracy.
These meetings can also go far in answering the important question of how much of the foundational data should be managed in the ITAM system.
Foundational data is key to the success of the asset management system. If this data is not clean and up-to-date, it cannot be relied upon.
We cannot stress enough the importance of taking the time to plan. In most major initiatives, the biggest percentage of time is spent on building or re-engineering processes, and on gathering requirements. While this is critical, components we’ve covered here, such as identifying the sources of data, are just as important. Fortunately, this part of the planning process is usually among the least complex and time-consuming.
“Excellence is achieved by the mastery of fundamentals.”
Author: Tom Watson
Tom Watson is AMI’s President and CEO. He began his career in high tech in 1996, as a software engineer for his own software company. After a subsequent stint at IT Asset Management firm Micropath as senior architect for that company’s asset tracking system, he founded AMI to develop hardware asset tracking technology solutions for enterprise IT Asset Management customers.