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Defining Roles for ITAM in a Midsize Company

This article has been contributed by Oren Gamble.

Oren Gamble

Oren Gamble

A quick scan of job boards shows that the larger a company is, the more likely it is to split its Information Technology Asset Management (ITAM) functions into different teams, one for hardware and one for software. In a large company there is sufficient work to justify employees being dedicated to one aspect of ITAM. Some companies even employ a Vendor/Audit Manager and Procurement person within ITAM. Accordingly, a small company’s ITAM group may consist of just one or two employees, making it necessary for each team member to be able to diversify. The ITAM department at a midsize company must determine if it is worthwhile to delineate roles like a big company or if it is more prudent to combine roles like a small company.

Wearing multiple hats

If the number of hardware and software assets, as well as a company’s total number of employees, are not great enough to justify a large ITAM group, then there may be no other option than to combine roles. This is especially true when maintaining segregation of duties requires multiple people working separate tasks on inventory tickets. An inventory ticket may not take much time to work, but having at least two people involved limits liability. The workload at a midsize company cannot justify someone exclusively performing the function of inventory clerk.

There are certainly benefits to diversifying the responsibilities of each ITAM member. Workers stay busy; there will always be some task that needs to be done and each person should be more capable of assisting other team members just by being familiar with more aspects of ITAM. It can also be easier to stay engaged when the work is not monotonous.

Meeting organizational ITAM goals

Per the posted survey results from a recent webinar, the two most prevalent primary drivers of ITAM in an organization are Compliance and Cost Savings. Meeting organizational regulations, such as securing data and segregation of duties, or in the United States keeping compliant Sarbanes-Oxley, are not options, so a company needs to maintain a sufficient staff to meet this goal. But even for those companies, ITAM must show ROI through cost savings. Traditionally, ITAM can achieve this through harvesting software licenses, getting competitive quotes, avoiding a negative audit outcome, etc. But keeping staff low and workers efficient and multi-tasking is an easy metric for directors to understand.

But there are hidden costs of having each member of ITAM split focus between hardware, software, and any other functions. By combining all aspects of ITAM, the group can be come reactive rather than proactive. This becomes more pronounced when ITAM is treated as a service, prioritizing the end-user experience over serving ITAM objectives. Chasing inactive objects can go from being a priority to something that gets done if there’s time. Creating requests to remove unapproved software may be done when time can be found in-between other tasks, resulting in stale data being used and/or accepting some unpalatable risks. And this is just during the course of normal business. What happens to all of those ITAM tasks during a large project, such as a company-wide PC refresh? Any company that has embraced ITAM should weigh these considerations and acknowledge the sacrifices that come from either decision.

Creating agile and adaptive teams

If a company can split its crucial ITAM tasks between fewer employees, it should. The difference in skillset required for an analysis of a license agreement and an installed software report is no greater than that between analyzing that same installed software report and deployed printer trends, which indicates that the distinction between which tasks are done by a particular member do not have to be so rigidly defined along hardware and software lines. Yet many companies insist on making that distinction. In fact, there are reasons to encourage ITAM groups to blur those lines. An employee who is familiar with PC naming conventions, model types, and inventory movement from the hardware side may recognize and use data about an aged device from a software scan that would seem insignificant to a user who is only aware of the installed software implications. The extra familiarity also creates a more agile and adaptive team whose members are more easily able to cover each other’s tasks. With solid, defined processes an ITAM group can benefit by having its members touch varied aspects of ITAM.

This article has been contributed by Oren Gamble.

Do you agree with Oren? How best can ITAM responsibilities be distributed in smaller or mid-sized companies? 

About Oren Gamble

Oren studied English and Journalism at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. He previously worked as a writer and editor for a business-to-business magazine and website and then applied his analytical and documentation skills to performing IT Asset Management for a financial services company. Connect with Oren on LinkedIn. 

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