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Five pillars of a proactive ITAM practice

This is a chapter from a book entitled “Software Asset Management (SAM) ~ the first ninety days“. I plan to publish each chapter online before publishing the whole book as a low cost ebook or paperback. I welcome your feedback and criticism along the way. Please either leave a comment on the individual chapters or get in touch. A summary of all chapters can be found here.


Five pillars of a proactive ITAM practice

Speaking to different organizations around the world practicing IT Asset Management, I’ve noticed two approaches to how IT Asset Managers get involved in the purchasing and procurements process.

The two extremities are as follows:

  • Proactive – fully engaged prior to IT purchases being made
  • Reactive – reconciling after others have completed transactions

World class ITAM practices have a blend of both, but ultimately the more proactive our approach to ITAM can be, the more of a strategic partner and leader in the business we can be (Think whispering in the ear of the CIO to aid major decision making).

Even though ITAM is essentially a governance process, you still want to instil a governance process that picks up issues ahead of time and assists the business deliver it’s projects and obligations – rather than just clearing up the mess afterwards.

Reactive Asset Management is the equivalent of waiting until the end of the financial year to see if we kept within budget. Proactive asset management helps every step of the way so we know we’re within budget and can help in steer the ship through the choppy waters of modern IT.

Inputs and Outputs

So what does mean in practice?

If our IT environments were perfectly static and never changed, we wouldn’t have jobs. We’re hired to manage the flux. If you align to the key sources of change within an organization, you are more likely to stay on top of them and meet your ITAM responsibilities.

You can summarize the main changes to IT environments as follows:

  1. New projects and systems are deployed
  2. Existing infrastructure is upgraded and tinkered with
  3. Users make requests
  4. People join us, leave us and change jobs
  5. Stuff gets fixed, patched and rebuilt or gets lost

Once an organization has performed a baseline of IT Assets in the business, it is a case of keeping on top of the five main inputs and outputs. In the table below the five main changes can be addressed with five key strategies:

Changes likely to occur in an IT estate


Strategies IT Asset Managers can use to stay on top of changes proactively

Deployment of new projects and upgrades Whole IT estate PMO Alignment
Changes to infrastructure and production systems Primarily Datacentre CAB Alignment
End user requests Primarily Desktop, Laptop, Mobile Automated Request Process
People leaving the business, changing roles, finishing projects or otherwise not using IT assets anymore Whole IT estate Proactive Reclaim
Engineer/Support staff changes / IMAC Primarily Desktop, Laptop and Mobile Service Alignment

The five strategies in the table above are weapons in the IT Asset Managers arsenal that will assist in ironing out the wrinkles in your processes and also help you become more proactive. I consider these five main pillars or core disciplines in which to build an ITAM practice:

  1. PMO ALIGNMENT: ITAM should be embedded in the Project Management Office, Projects Team, or whatever the deployment of new IT projects might be called in your organization. The essence of the discipline of Project Management is to manage the risk associated with implementing projects – and IT costs going wrong is a significant risk. In an ideal world the ITAM function should have clear visibility of new projects before they even get approval or signoff, when they are just a twinkle in the IT architects eye. You’ll know when you are winning with new IT project teams when they come to you knowing that they’ll get more bang for their project budget if they get ITAM involved (Most efficient spend, best terms, most flexibility to suit the project and so on).
  2. CAB ALIGNMENT: ITAM should be entrenched in the Change Management process or organizations should have change management processes / CAB’s that are ITAM savvy, particularly with software licensing. The worst-case scenario is changes that need to be rolled back because of licensing errors (More common that people like to admit with virtualization projects).
  3. AUTOMATED REQUEST PROCESS: A well-oiled App Store or IT Request process. From my experience speaking with IT Asset Managers, after compliance and audits – the biggest drain on their time is software requests. You’ll get eaten alive by requests if you are not careful. The majority of the heavy lifting can be taken away with the use of a well thought out software and hardware request process that allows, choice, selection, management approval tracking and deployment whilst referencing ITAM checks and balances along the way.
  4. PROACTIVE RECLAIM: Periodically assessing all Assets in the business and asking the questions a) is it being used? and b) can I have it back? (Think of all assets ‘loaned’ to users on a piece of elastic which ‘twangs’ back to ITAM when not in use)
  5. SERVICE ALIGNMENT: ITAM should be closely aligned to Service Management teams. This is a catchall for the vast majority of changes that occur outside of new projects, the Change Management process or automated request process. Any other changes, particularly to end user systems, are likely to transact via the service desk. For example, an engineer might rebuild a machine for a user, she is primarily interested in fixing things as quickly as possible and satisfying the user, ITAM need to be embedded in their day to day workflows to ensure inputs and outputs to the estate are being captured and assets maximized.

This is a chapter from a book entitled “Software Asset Management (SAM) ~ the first ninety days“. I plan to publish each chapter online before publishing the whole book as a low cost ebook or paperback. I welcome your feedback and criticism along the way. Please either leave a comment on the individual chapters or get in touch. A summary of all chapters can be found here.

About Martin Thompson

Martin is owner and founder of The ITAM Review, an online resource for worldwide ITAM professionals. The ITAM Review is best known for its weekly newsletter of all the latest industry updates, LISA training platform, Excellence Awards and conferences in UK, USA and Australia.

Martin is also the founder of ITAM Forum, a not-for-profit trade body for the ITAM industry created to raise the profile of the profession and bring an organisational certification to market. On a voluntary basis Martin is a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the ITAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770.

He is also the author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management. In addition, Martin developed the PITAM training course and certification.

Prior to founding the ITAM Review in 2008 Martin worked for Centennial Software (Ivanti), Silicon Graphics, CA Technologies and Computer 2000 (Tech Data).

When not working, Martin likes to Ski, Hike, Motorbike and spend time with his young family.

Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.

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