The ITAM Review

News, reviews and resources for worldwide ITAM, SAM and Licensing professionals.

The Problem with ITAM


Working in ITAM may feel like we’re hitting a brick wall but is up to us to find solutions to overcome it

I was recently discussing work with a friend, and we were talking about the issues currently faced within their sector. It was the usual lack of jobs in the market, not a lot of money for investment in roles and also wages issues. He then turned to me and asked, “So what’s the problem with ITAM? What issues do ITAM professionals currently face?” I had to stop and think for a second. ITAM is a niche, so in some respects the challenges we face can seem disjointed from your usual department/sector problems. Here are the current problems ITAM face as I see it:


Organisations Still Not Waking Up To ITAM

There are still a number of organisations that have not ‘woken up’ to the fact they need an ITAM structure within their organisation. This is clearly evident in the article that we recently posted about a small business being fined by the BSA. There are a number of reasons this may be the case, with the Secret IT Manager highlighting some examples of the issues faced. Issues may include:

  • Lack of senior management support
  • Lack of finance
  • Lack of awareness
  • Blasé attitude towards software and software audits
  • Lack of ITAM education

Obviously it needs to change within organisations, but surely there is another way to alert organisations of the benefits than for the reactive approach post audit? More awareness and education is needed, but how can that happen if organisations eyes are closed? It’s certainly a challenge that ITAM faces, and needs to be addressed as soon as possible. There needs to be an ITAM program within all organisations.


The Supply and Demand Issue

There may be some organisations that still have their heads in the sand, but there are those that have realised the benefits of ITAM and want to start their own ITAM program. Now they have a difficult decision to make. Do they directly hire an ITAM team, or do they get the services of a managed service provider (MSP)?

In my experience the majority of ITAM practitioners, those that really know what they’re talking about and have a passion for ITAM, have already been snapped up by the MSP’s or are now consultants. There are a number of reasons for this, but the biggest one is the fact that organisations simply cannot compete financially with MSP’s. They also cannot provide the training and knowledge resources that some MSP’s can provide. Some organisations simply don’t have the funds to hire an MSP or a consultant to sort out their ITAM estate, so are left between a rock and a hard place.

This in turn means that organisations are left either hiring someone who is inadequate for the job that possibly hasn’t had any ITAM experience in the past, or completely abandoning the prospect of implementing an ITAM program. This is a dangerous road to go down. ITAM is a complex process that needs to be understood fully to be successfully implemented and managed. But what other choice do organisations have?

There are no ITAM practitioners out there waiting to be paid less than what they could earn as a consultant at an MSP or as an independent. For some, it’s either forget about an ITAM project all together, or hire someone that hasn’t got the experience or knowledge and hope they can be educated to practitioner level. At that point they will then leave and the organisation will be back to square one!


Vendors and Licensing

Another problem at the moment are software vendors. They are changing their licensing models and dictating to (and in some cases bullying) their customers into moving to models or applications that they may not need, or don’t want to move to. Organisations and its users don’t really have a choice though, as the vendors make out like you need them more than they need you. That may be true, but vendors need the users a lot more than they let on!

The changing of licensing models is another sticky patch within ITAM. ITAM professionals need to be on the ball, with their ear to the ground to keep up with the changes. If they are working directly for an end-user and not through an MSP, this can be challenging, as the only resources they have are online ITAM media outlets, or their own research for each vendor. Obviously, they are never going to be able to keep up with all the vendors they deal with, but the main vendors software and licensing news should be tracked.

With vendors changing licensing schemes it also means that ITAM and Licensing professionals need to know as much about the changes as possible so they know what the use rights are, how to license their estate and what impacts the changes may have on deployments, patches and updates. The licensing market is forever changing its goal posts, and ITAM professionals need to change their approach to ensure they score between those posts!


Final Thoughts

As I explained to my friend there are a number of issues currently facing the ITAM sector at the moment, and some of the issues are quite unique compared to other areas of a business. As the pick up on ITAM keeps increasing, these problems will either sort themselves out or become magnified. There are no doubts that future issues will arise within ITAM, but it’s up to us as ITAM professionals to find solutions and over-come them!


I’d love to know your thoughts. What do you think are the key issues currently facing the ITAM sector and it’s professionals? Leave me a comment below!


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About David Foxen

David Foxen is a Software Asset Management expert and enthusiast. He had a vast experience of successfully implementing SAM, SAM tools and also made huge cost savings. A member of the ISO Standards WG21, David is a massive ITAM geek, so uses any opportunity to talk about the subject to who-ever will listen. He believes that the industry needs to share its knowledge and success stories to help the SAM industry mature and become more effective. Always willing to help, his primary goal is to make a difference to organisations and the SAM industry so everyone will know how epic SAM is!


  1. Jon Hall says:

    I think “ITAM is a niche” is a problem statement in itself.

  2. Marcel Shaw says:

    You make great points. Personally, I am on a mission to raise awareness about ITAM, Why ITAM, How to approach ITAM, and the cost of not building an ITAM solution. I hope to see more people talking about this subject like you are doing. It is very important to track your IT Assets. Thanks for your Blogs. They are very insightful.

  3. James Moy says:

    I think your points are pretty good. Particularly on your supply and demand. I think between The ITAM Review and IAITAM there are enough members/subscribers that are pretty much make up ITAM practioners. Is ITAM a niche? I think so. Not many folks can do what we do. Most people think its just inventory control and don’t understand the discipline until and audit shows up or when someone asks “where’s all the equipment?”. Let’s size this up, managing hardware (all platforms), which means desktop, server, network, telephony, storage, virtual, mobility, etc…depending on your granularity, there are sub components to be concerned about. Then you add software and its variations of it. So now you have contract management in all its wonder. Then throw in the software manufacturer’s “how to count”, just to make it interesting.

    I agree with the changes on licensing models…it’s becoming less clear again. Used to be easier somewhat before cloud and virtualization.

    There are jobs in the ITAM sphere but limited to analyst roles for building an entire program. Not many firms willing to pay for the proper role to build the program.

    My two cents worth.

  4. I agree that some organizations/senior execs do still struggle with seeing the business benefits of ITAM – and even those who understand the rewards, they may see the effort required to achieve them better placed elsewhere in the business. So it really boils down to creating a compelling business case that’s utterly clear on the potential ROI and outlines the simplest solution to achieve that – which of course I would argue is enabling an in-house expert ITAM team by using an MSP for at least part of your program. However, to echo another point of yours, if there is no ITAM team in place yet, who creates that business case? It’ll either take a forward thinking business exec to kick things off, or an enthusiastic employee to be proactive…either way there is plenty of quality information out there to help build the case.

  5. Robert says:


    nice article

    For the most part I agree with your opinion. And especially – that SAM is a niche in organizations.

    However, I disagree with the argument of lack of awareness.

    The answer to our basic questions
    – How many computers
    – How many licenses
    – What we use

    This is something natural and necessary in the daily management of IT. Therefore, I think that – organizations are aware of the needs of the process, but they are not able to fully implement the ITAM why:

    – The main task of IT departments is that the systems – RUNNING (business must work). Therefore, other areas are deposited.

    – Collective responsibility in the organization for licenses cause its total lack. However, it gives a false sense of leadership in order.

    – And many other reasons that also you mentioned

    greet and sorry for my english

  6. Chris Evans says:

    ITAM is only a niche because it is something that most IT staff don’t want to do. It requires dedication, commitment and worst of all (techies run screaming ….) administration.

    It is an initiative which is often started in an organisation ‘because we should’ with no real understanding of the breadth of the task, the resource required to get it off the ground and the continued management support and enforcement to keep it moving.

    It takes such an aligning of the stars to get the basics right that the new tech like cloud and virtualisation runs the real risk of pushing ITAM achievement so far towards the horizon that it falls off the edge of the map entirely.

  7. Clint Bankes says:

    This hit the nail on the head as I was hired to implement ITAM and could be labled as “someone that hasn’t got the experience or knowledge and hope they can be educated to practitioner level”, as it is put.

    We are in the process of implementing ITAM and because there has been no focus on this in prior years we are in the exact situation described in this article. The organization has admitted there is a need for ITAM, but because the resources pushing this need have such a little voice it is passed over time and time again with no real traction.

    I have educated myself and continue to do so but ITAM can only be implemented as fast as the organization allows as there are many changes that have to occur for this to happen. Processes, structure, culture, etc. are all things that have to happen and without 100% commitment the value can’t be seen.

    It’s been over a year and we are still working on setting up an asset repository…

  8. I’ve witnessed great noise be made about how important SAM was, while at the same time only 1/5 of the resources were available to deliver ALL of ITAM (Financial, Contract, Procurement and SAM) compared to those for the the five (in-scope) ITSM processes. Plus the deliveries were tied together. You’re point about education would be more applicable in this case as senior management were backing the ITAM initiative (in word), but not having the understanding of the size of the challenge did not ensure the correct resourcing.

    You’ve hit the key points in your post, however, a reason for ITAM losing out may be in not (currently) having the visibility and marketability of ITIL/ITSM. It doesn’t help when vendors for ITSM solutions claim to have ITAM covered in that system, often as an after thought.

    Then there’s the “sound of silence”, too many of the corporations that fail their SAM audits are signing the appropriate deal but including silence from the vendor. The true scope of fines and revenue impact from SAM is not being reported to the wider community giving a false sense that things are not as bad as they are.

    Something similar can be said around the disposal of physical assets, IT hardware doesn’t end up polluting developing countries through adherence of appropriate ITAM process….

  9. David Foxen says:

    Thank you for your feedback. I think the issue is that ITAM does not have complete awareness both internally and externally.

    Robert – I agree with your comments regarding IT hardware issues and pollution! Major organisations do need to look and address the ‘green balance’!

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