In the style of the ‘7 Habits’ series of motivational writing, The ITAM Review decided to run a feature to discuss and analyse the 7 Habits of Highly Effective IT Asset Managers (Read the original LinkedIn discussion thread here).
Our goal from the outset was to try and pin down some essential best practices and highlight some of the most productive workflow methods pertaining to our corner of the technology industry.
While asset management must embrace fundamental considerations relating to process improvement and inventory management, today we also see compliance and accountability concerns coming to the fore.
As IT carries on its progression from merely being a business ‘function’ to a true strategic business enabler, we need to know what makes a great asset manager and be able to examine how his or her actions can lead to enhanced performance of assets across the application lifecycle management process.
Serena software’s commercial VP David Hurwitz has suggested that one effective habit that he has seen people pick up is ‘longer-term thinking’, responding to the fact that asset management is not static.
“Applications on a desktop can change over time, or a user may change roles,” said Hurwitz. “Each change may have an impact on that asset’s support requirements. Picking up on this, ‘longer-term thinking’ should therefore be built into ITAM processes. It not only helps improve overall support for assets and service to these users, but it can also help you save on costs, as software licenses can be taken back or redeployed rather than additional ones being bought.”
So the efficiency message is clearly core then. If anything, it comes down to efficiency as well as adaptability and the ability to multi-task. That is the suggestion made by Steven Wynants, a senior specialist at Toyota Motor Europe Brussels, who asserts that an IT Asset Manager should be able to switch between roles.
“Sometimes you’re playing a more controlling role (when challenging users). At other times, you play a supporting role (during contract reviews or audits). The challenge is to get the right balance between both and to get accepted in the organisation as playing both roles, as your customers will probably be the same in both cases,” said Wynants.
Talking of multi-tasking, think about the ‘total scope’ of the IT Asset Manager today and ask yourself what other IT role requires knowledge of these disparate departments: desktop; server; networking; procurement; accounting and finance; warehousing and central supply; security; legal and human resources. This is the reality highlighted by Ilan Justh, a software compliance coordinator contracted at a leading automotive organization in the Greater Los Angeles Area.
“We have to understand how each of these areas impact the company and how what we do, in turn, affects them. In addition we need to be cognizant of new emerging technologies and rules. We need to attempt to determine where the industry is going and finally we need to be detectives i.e. we have to figure out the where, how, when, why and what of the technology challenge in front of us really represents. We need to see patterns and process in a large report and be able to see trends from a few tealeaves. This is why I love this job!,” enthused Justh.
It is clear that good IT Asset Management procedures require excellence in procedural planning. As BT business analyst Angela Chalmers points out, the original 7 Habits concept stipulates the importance of beginning with an end game in mind. In IT Asset Management this means that if you’re engaging with a vendor either for an audit or a contract negotiation, you need to be very clear about joint expectations of outcomes so that you can analyse exactly what position are you trying to get to and when.
Habit 3 – First things first, stress importance not urgency — this one’s hard when you’re working in a constant stream of emails, phone calls, IMs and new work requests says Chalmers, but a keeping a list of jobs in priority order at the start of each day helps the focus.
Chalmers highlights Habit 5 – First understand then be understood — “Create an atmosphere of positive problem solving. I think this one is my favourite. You’ll achieve more if you work together with colleagues from other departments and vendors rather than approaching each meeting as if its a confrontation,” she said.
ITAM Review analyst Kylie Fowler is outgoing and gregarious when it comes to an Asset Manager’s most important credentials. She stresses the need for communication, the ability to connect with people… and the skills and contacts to connect people with people, plus the ability to prioritise and always be open to new ideas.
“Actively seek to improve what you do and how you do it. Prioritise and recognise that ITAM doesn’t have to be done NOW unless something has gone horribly wrong. But it does have to be done sometime, so help others prioritise it appropriately according to their priorities. Be constructive when things go wrong – playing the blame game doesn’t help anyone – focus on lessons learned and getting it right next time,” said Fowler.
Fowler also points out, very crucially, that it is important to manage your risks as you don’t need to know the serial number of every mouse, or the status of every file installed on every machine, but you do need to ensure risks are communicated and that people will act to mitigate them appropriately.
“Don’t expect to know everything – things constantly change in this business and it’s impossible to keep up. However you do need to know how to find out what you need to know, and you also have develop a feel for when someone else is feeding you inaccurate information – I call it my bullsh*t radar!,” she added.
Fowler is joined by Martin Chalkley, owner of COnsultandomi Ltd, in the opinion that the ability to build a great ITAM team around you is one of the most important aspects of any ITAM manager on an individual level. Your role is to bring all the people and processes together and add a dash of ITAM flavour, not to try and do it all yourself.
“You need to be an excellent networker, you need to know where the assets are, who is using them and what their forecasted requirements are. This means an appreciation for matrix management where a number of people feed you information who are not your direct line of report. You also need to understand what ICT trends may affect the way you manage assets (BYOD springs to mind) and remember that software assets sit on hardware assets — oh and like Kylie says, build a team!,” said Chalkley.
So it’s simple and straightforward, yet complex at the same time. This snapshot of IT Asset Management excellence is not an exhaustive how-to analysis, but it is probably the best “elevator sell” you’re likely to read this month (if not this year). As a result of drawing in the collective opinion of readers and members of The ITAM Review we have gathered some invaluable consensus on what key attributes we should look for in best practice processes that govern our niche of the technology ecosphere. Good work team – thank you!