Dipping your toes into ITAM consulting water

18 March 2013
6 minute read
Best practice

Dipping your toes into ITAM consulting water

18 March 2013
6 minute read

This article has been contributed by Kevin McGrew of AssetGurus.

IT Asset Management consulting is an exercise in showing domain expertise to IT managers with no time, no budget and no tolerance for sales speak.

Key to winning business is a familiarity with existing asset management tools and technologies.

Consulting is simply a process of showing an understanding of industry best practices and developing them within your client’s environment. All clients have different levels of ITAM maturity and different financial considerations.

The consultant’s job is to detect what real-world, implementable changes can be made, so they can keep pace with their competitors.

One major aspect of ITAM is maintaining an accurate inventory.  Firms often look to outside vendors to supply inventory counting services. All of these revenue sources can keep you and your consulting venture afloat, as long as you can always deliver what you promise to your clients. ITAM services vendors have a history of over-promising and underdelivering:  it falls to you to break that cycle.

Deploying asset management tools for small businesses

As a new voice in the business, your sales pipeline is likely to be filled with customers that fall through the nets put out by the HPs and IBMs of the IT services world. That means a diligent focus on small business, which also means small budgets.

Bringing a recommendation to a client with less than 2500 IT assets to implement a software solution with total cost of ownership of over $75,000 is foolish. All firms, no matter what the size, want to hit the sweet spot of $15-$20 to implement and manage each asset. Keep these ball-park figures in mind before submitting asset management tools proposals to your prospective client.

Realistic purchase prices for tools are the surest way to turn prospects into loyal clients — unrealistic suggestions are the fastest way to lose leads.

Inventory counting services and consulting

Understanding the scope of the project (desktops, laptops, servers, telephony, furniture?) helps you understand the corporate drivers of the project. If servers are the primary objective, you can assume IT is pushing for the project. If high-value items are the focus, the project may be coming out of finance. You need to tailor your inventory counting services pitch to suit the decision makers holding the purse strings.

Well executed IT inventory and audit is a product of people, processes and technology working in tandem to deliver results:

  1. People: Surprisingly, tech gurus don’t always work the best as an on-sight inventory worker. Those with the ability to ask questions and bring a willingness to learn fair the best in these dynamic, fast-moving, unfamiliar environments.
  2. Processes: Beyond understanding the choice of processes that CAN be implemented for ITAM, understanding WHICH process fits for your particular client is the heart of providing successful inventory counting services. (An example of a process that you hash out before the project begins would be ordering the targeted facilities.) By getting a complete list of all in-scope facilities ahead of time from your client, you can arrange them in travel-plan such that you eliminate backtracking and site-revisiting.
  3. Technology: The bedrock of IT data collection is typically handheld barcode scanners and 10 cent barcode label stickers. Efficiency is the name of the game. If all competitors are using the same core technology, then in order to stand out, you will need to master the peripheral tools that allow for you to provide services they can’t. We can assume that all bidders on a project are able to produce an Excel extract of data collected, but can all firms offer line-by-line reconciliation with finance modules?  What about IP address or Windows username collection?  Stand out from the pack by offering more from the data you collect than your competitors can.

Business process design

It is often the case, a first-time inventory will reveal that a client has no business-processes in place to formally manage the receive/move/dispose of assets in the enterprise.  You can expand your services repertoire by creating a roadmap for the flow of assets in the firm’s environment.  This can be as simple as a back-of-the-napkin diagram, or as complex as a multi-tiered Visio project.

Developing clearly defined lifecycle management processes comes primarily from experience and a working knowledge of how assets flow.

Key stakeholders in various departments can shed a lot of light on what is and isn’t being done around IT lifecycle management. Try and talk to the players that have stake in tracking these valuable items.

This can change from firm to firm, depending on the organisational structure and power-distribution among departments.  It falls to the consultant to suss out who has knowledge that you need to make effective recommendations.

Concluding thoughts…

Asset management tools cause migraines in the enterprise because they’re expensive, hard to use and are often dropped shortly after being implemented.

ITAM consulting revenue comes from saving your clients real money — your job is to find their pain and turn it into savings.

If you can bring projects forward that avoid major software licensing fees, and instead rely on basic best practices like regular audits and ongoing data collection, you will succeed.  By providing inventory counting services and IT asset audits, you become a hands-on expert to your client, rather than a high-minded source of recommendations and criticism.

Once you demonstrate domain expertise both in meetings with managers and personnel on the facility floor, you will get tremendous buy-in to implement your recommendations.  This will allow you to book not just the current project’s revenue, but ongoing revenue from that client when they return year after year.  A good ITAM consultant is hard to find.

About the author:  Kevin McGrew has been leader and CEO of 4 diverse, IT-focused consulting firms (B2B and B2C).  Responsible for overseeing the collection, verification, and reconciliation of 10 million IT assets over 15 years, Kevin McGrew has deep industry experience overseeing ITAM operations from the Fortune 50 down to the start-up enterprise.

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