This article serves as the diary of an IT Manager and the issues that he/she faces on a day-to-day basis without a dedicated ITAM structure in place within their organization. What you read is 100% based on real events, although company and personnel names have been changed, because otherwise it wouldn’t be a secret!
As an IT Manager I’ve been given responsibility for everything related to IT, and other aspects of technology like phones, tablets and other smart devices. Now, obviously being an IT Manager I’d expect nothing less. I work hard and I work long hours to ensure that everything is working well and that my team can keep up with the quick turnarounds that are required.
I have an issue though. My time is so stretched and my diary so full that software licensing and ITAM in general is something that I have to do outside of my working hours. “Why?” I hear your cry, “is it not part of your daily role?” Well, I’ve tried to make it just that; believe me I’ve tried. I’ve tried to get the backing of both my General Manager (GM) and Finance Director but to no avail. The general response has been ‘you want more money for what? No, we will not allow anymore budget for IT’ and the classic ‘we are small fish. Vendors and auditors won’t care about us. Forget about it!’ They are under the impression that auditors can’t audit us without our GM’s say so!
As you and I both know this is not an appropriate response, or the response I was looking for. I have created numerous documents highlighting the benefits of implementing an ITAM program, and the helpdesk staff and myself are addressing our licensing issues ad-hoc, away from our specified job roles. The only form of ITAM or licensing recognition that exists within the business is within our IT department. We can’t get permission from the GM to allow us to implement new processes or provide some form of education (only via email!) to our end users.
One of the major issues we are facing is the fact that we’ve inherited the licensing estate from various Heads of Departments. Software licenses were not initially purchased through IT; instead departments ordered their own software and licenses. I have now obviously changed this so that all software needs to be approved by me. The fact that they’ve inherited a situation that they’ve had no previous control over has resulted in a majorly de-centralized software catalog.
The lack of ITAM awareness or processes within the business means we have a platter of random software being installed. We haven’t standardized any of our applications, and we have too many legacy products (many pre-dating 1994) in use. As mentioned, we’ve inherited the licensing estate so previously the procurement of software has been all over the place with software spending coming out of random budgets so ‘ownership’ of software is often argued.
Due to the lack of processes and the lack of ITAM knowledge we cannot establish our baseline. I’ve populated our licenses into spreadsheets (at least it’s recorded somewhere) and I’ve started to organize our software cupboard with our boxed products. Due to our lack of budget I’ve been looking into free discovery tools, which will help us to identify our baseline and start to “see through the woods” and identify what our license position is. This process could be sped up should the powers that be give me a small budget for a student to catalog our software in storage as well as our paper licenses!
I know that there are options out there, but they don’t appear to come without a hefty price tag. As our IT budget is stretched as it is without taking into account an ITAM tool or the services of a Managed Service provider, I feel that our options are limited.
I’ve read on various media outlets and social media that we’re not the only ones struggling to implement an ITAM program and mentality. As I’ve been doing my own ITAM and software licensing research, I feel as though I could make a positive contribution to the business with the support of my superiors; and by maybe hiring an additional member of staff we could really turn this ship around.
So, where do I go from here? Well I’ve found a number of solutions to help ease the situation; solutions that any IT Manager with limited resources can utilize, which I will run through in my next article. In the mean time, if you have any suggestions of your own please be sure to share them.