Asset Management | 9 MIN READ

7 ITAM Myths That Desperately Need to Be Debunked

IT asset management (ITAM) is all about ensuring that your organization’s most valuable assets are being tracked and used as efficiently as possible. Unfortunately, recent industry discussion about ITAM has involved more conjecture-laden myth-building than it has clear, digestible information.

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In a business world so dominated by the volatility of technological evolution, the importance of ITAM has skyrocketed, but so too has the confusion around implementation. “Most organizations do not have a formal ITAM program,” claims Gartner Senior Director Analyst Pamela Wheelwright, “but [they] recognize the need to implement one in support of their digital business objectives.”

Without that foundational knowledge, ITAM practices and any related change management processes can’t reach the fine-tuned level of efficiency that most businesses crave. Instead, there’s a lot of falsehoods masquerading as truths, misinforming professionals in many different sects of the IT industry.

In this blog post, I’m going to set the record straight on some of the most common myths I’ve heard and read about ITAM, some of them used to legitimize reasons for avoiding implementation. In so doing, I’ll be shedding some light on what ITAM really encompasses, as well as the value it can bring to your operations and business practices.

Let’s get started!

 

1. “I Don’t Need to Bother With ITAM”

Let’s get this one out of the way first: ITAM matters to everyone, regardless of what industry you’re in, how many people your organization employs, or how much revenue it generates per year. When done well, ITAM helps you cut costs, reduce growth-related risks, and boost productivity in a major way.

A really simple example of this is software licenses. All businesses now use a variety of hardware (PCs, mobile devices, servers, etc.) to accomplish everyday tasks, which means they need an appropriate number of matching software licenses. Otherwise, they could be hit with fines for non-compliance.

Another example is the inevitable scenario where software becomes obsolete. Without a set of ITAM practices in place, you won’t always be informed of compatibility issues or upgrade deadlines. Worse still, relying on archaic software can result in added downtime, which costs some companies millions of dollars every year.

Bottom line? No successful digital-first organization forgoes ITAM processes.

 

2. “We Use the ITIL Framework, So We Don’t Need ITAM”

Even if your organization is already using an ITIL approach to IT service management (ITSM), a set of well-defined ITAM practices is still crucial to efficient IT asset usage.

I’ve previously discussed the difference between ITIL and ITSM on the blog, and many of the same principles apply when contrasting the former with ITAM. In short, it’s not about choosing one over the other–it’s about fostering an IT service and development environment that allows ITIL, ITSM, and ITAM to coexist harmoniously.

As Gartner points out, ITAM practices encompass the business and technical aspects of managing your assets, whereas ITIL represents the practices that inform ITSM in a more conceptual way. In other words, ITAM is specifically concerned with assets, while ITIL takes IT services into account when looking at the same objectives.

Like a well-balanced meal, using ITIL in conjunction with ITAM and ITSM leads to the best possible results.

 

3. “An ITAM Solution is Going to Be Too Expensive”

Depending on your organization’s needs, ITAM apps, platform registration, and integration options may not be inexpensive. That said, it will still be far less costly than the alternative, which entails being behind the technological curve in your industry.

Let’s bring it back to my previous example of outdated software. Besides the possibility of devastating IT security breaches, this survey found that U.S. businesses alone lose an estimated $1.8 trillion due to the repetitive tasks brought on by using old tech assets. Less time spent on value-adding initiatives can mean a huge dip in company-wide productivity.

There’s also the customer experience angle to this specific example. It’s not news that customers will take their business elsewhere if their expectations aren’t met, and your organization can’t reach that outcome by relying on assets that just aren’t useful.

Having a solid ITAM foundation takes the guesswork out of knowing which assets are still performing at a high level and, in the long run, can prevent your organization from losing giant sums of money.

 

4. “An ITAM Solution is Too Difficult to Implement Right Now”

As with any big changes to the way your (or any) organization operates, implementing an ITAM solution will only be as difficult as you make it out to be. In fact, it’s probably easier than you think.

I get it. No one likes change. However, as businesses continue to invest in technology at a record pace, that change is out of everyone’s control. Having ITAM processes in place to make adding new assets and managing the lifecycles of your existing ones will go a long way in smoothing that transition.

Ignoring the importance of ITAM because of perceived implementation difficulties is, in its own way, represents a crippling lack of urgency. As John P. Kotter writes for the Harvard Business Review, “in many cases, executives become paralyzed by the downside possibilities.”

He continues: “Management’s mandate is to minimize risk and to keep the current system operating.” Without ITAM practices, accomplishing both of those with respect to assets like hardware and software will be next to impossible.

 

5. “ITAM Will Solve All of My IT Support Problems”

The short version of this myth-busting answer? No.

Again, ITAM’s primary purview is your tech assets and the relationships between them, as well as how they help your organization work towards accomplishing larger business objectives. There are so many other support elements involved in successful IT service management that ITAM couldn’t possibly be a one-size-fits-all solution for everything.

In the same way that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for other aspects of a business, your IT service desk needs support from all corners of your ITSM system, with ITAM being just one part of that big picture. In fact, “one-stop-shop” apps usually don’t come with the flexibility and customizability that non-generalist options can offer your organization.

Efficient asset management can certainly be a big help to IT support agents, but you can’t rely on ITAM alone to cure all the ills in their domain.

 

6. “Implementing an ITAM Solution Means Starting From Scratch”

Those who are fond of perpetuating this ITAM myth are usually individuals or organizations who aren’t familiar with their existing IT infrastructure.

Before implementing an ITAM system of any kind, you must first know your asset and service inventory inside and out. What are you already using? What processes are already in place, even if they need to be tweaked or refined? Once those and other related questions are answered, you may be pleasantly surprised by how much ITAM you’re already engaging in.

Let me put it another way: If you wanted to install new windows in your home, does that mean you have to tear the entire structure down and start from scratch? Sure, paint, moldings, and other elements may need alterations as a result, but adding those new elements doesn’t mean the existing foundation is no longer useful to you.

Before diving into the first or next chapter of your ITAM journey, make sure you do your homework. If you don’t, not knowing enough about your infrastructure can hurt you.

 

7. “ITAM Doesn’t Really Add Any Value”

Finally, we come to the last and possibly biggest myth of them all: that ITAM doesn’t add any (or enough) value to a business’ daily operations.

This isn’t a new trend in the tech community either. According to AXELOS, only 41% of ITSM professionals see a “clear alignement” between specific goals for their asset and service management teams and any overall business goals. The same study also acknowledged that 60% of professionals called ITSM “instrumental” in hitting those targets.

It’s clear that something’s got to give in that equation. CIO’s Barclay Rae addresses how altering the perception around ITSM and ITAM can debunk this myth once and for all:

“[...] The concept [of ITSM] needs to be recognized as service management rather than just IT service management, which is about the business, governance, consistency and, above all else, value (VOCR – value, outcomes, costs, risks…). Service management needs recognition higher up in organizations for what it delivers [ …] It simply can’t be done ‘on the cheap’. Digital transformation thrives on new technology and the opportunities it offers. However, this still requires people to make it happen, working together to achieve real success and value.”

The same can be said specifically of ITAM, a set of business practices that consistently offer a lot of potentially unsung value to organizations who take them seriously.

 

Conclusion

There are plenty of myths about ITAM that have muddied the waters with regards to what it does, why it’s important, and the kind of value it can bring to a business. Hopefully, those myths have now been properly debunked.

With organizations in every industry becoming increasingly reliant on various tech assets to accomplish everyday tasks, having a system in place to manage those elements is critical. Further to that, ITAM directly impacts how quickly IT service desks respond to support tickets, as well as how far you can reduce costs related to hardware, software, and more.

Most importantly, the actionable, transparent information that ITAM practices provide is a major cornerstone of any successful change management strategy. The importance of that relationship, as with other aspects of your business, will only continue to be underscored in the next decade. Will you be on the right side of the ITAM narrative?


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Originally published Sep 26, 2019 12:00:00 PM