It Ain’t Easy Being an IT Asset Manager
IT assets sometimes feel more like a liability. For IT asset managers, it’s all about visibility. The larger the organization, the bigger the problems. Even for small to medium-sized companies can suffer from asset overload, particularly when it comes to cloud applications.
The biggest challenge with cloud applications is that there are just so damned many in most organizations. Every person across the enterprise may have their favorite app(s). Then there are the standard apps, such as CRMs. Put them all together and you have yourself one fine mess. A mess, that is, if you don’t have that visibility I mentioned.
IT asset managers don’t have a crystal ball. They may have a home-grown app or spreadsheets they try to maintain, but without the entire employee base on board, it’s like raking leaves in the wind. You don’t make much progress. Keeping track of “most” of the apps isn’t good enough. One rogue app can cause intense collateral damage. You need stellar SaaS management software to capture it all in real time.
Gartner hosted an interesting webinar not long ago that specifically speaks towards this chaos. Even though they list 19 different stakeholders with some obligation in managing IT assets, guess who they squarely place the bulk of the responsibility? You guessed it - IT asset managers.
What, exactly, is the role of a successful IT asset manager? Gartner gives us seven responsibilities, each of which contributes to bringing much-needed order to this complex ecosystem.
Gartner’s 7 Roles of an IT Asset Manager
An IT asset manager’s role may seem obvious, yet Gartner found seven specific and distinct responsibilities a manager should tackle. Whether you are an IT asset manager looking to improve your processes and value or you are looking to become one, Gartner offers expert advice as to how you can make a real difference in your organization, no matter its size.
1. Set and Communicate Policy
Would you be surprised to know that most employees aren’t sure of any asset purchasing policies, or if there even are any? According to The Balance, most employees don’t even understand what is considered an asset. If you want to start moving the needle, you need to communicate clearly and effectively.
Of course, this will require policies to actually be in place. What is it you are trying to accomplish? How will it benefit not only IT but the rest of the company? IT has much to gain with effective asset management, but so does finance who must report on the cost of these assets. Business managers need to know which apps their employees are utilizing. Procurement needs justification as to which apps justify renewing. Communicate the value of these policies in the language of each business unit and you may just find champions sprouting up across the company.
2. Coordinate Governance, Processes and Reporting
Now that you’ve determined what policy will be established and communicated, it’s time to ensure these policies are enforced. This will start with standard processes and guidelines everyone is to follow when it comes to downloading and paying for any SaaS applications. Many SaaS apps offer a free trial so employees don’t see the harm, but even free apps introduce risk to an IT asset manager.
Governance over the processes and policies will only get you so far. You must have accurate (a.k.a. real-time) reporting on more than just what apps are part of the estate. You must know who owns them, who is utilizing them, how frequently they are being utilized, which features are being used most, when they renew, etc. It’s common for reporting software to only count logins. If your organization uses single sign on or automatic login, you still have no idea if the app is actually being used - even though it’s being paid for year after year through renewals. Reporting matters so make sure it’s detailed enough to give you the visibility you really need.
3. Identify, Assess and Quantify Risk
How can you measure risk if you don’t know what’s in your asset ecosystem? Until you gain the visibility I keep mentioning, you are at what InfoWorld deems as a constant risk of data breaches, hacks, broken authentications, just to name a few.
Given your IT asset landscape, what are your specific risks? Remember, they can come from the inside just as much, if not more, than the outside. How likely are these risks? What are the biggest priorities when it comes to risk? How much will these vulnerabilities impact the business? Catalog your risks regularly so you are always on top of the “what ifs.”
4. Facilitate and Track Remediation
If your risks are well understood, you can move onto remediation if something happens. As the term goes, however, it’s not a matter of if, but when. No system is foolproof, but you can dramatically decrease your exposure if you have the accurate and real-time reporting across the enterprise that we mentioned above. Are you getting the importance of reporting?
As an IT asset manager, it’s your job to not only set the policies and enforce them but to pick up the pieces when something doesn’t go as planned. It isn’t a fun job and can suck up all of your time, but if you have a plan in place beforehand, you’ll be more apt to accelerate this process so it’s somewhat tolerable.
5. Assign Assets and The Responsibility for Managing Them
Even though it’s your job to manage IT assets, it’s also important to delegate. Some assets are only used by one department or team. Other SaaS applications are used cross-departmentally. It makes sense to assign certain assets to others who can more closely monitor them. They will need to have access to the same reporting as you and either make decisions based on that data or work with you to come up with the best course of action.
To whomever you assign these responsibilities, it’s essential everyone is working from the same playbook. Those policies, procedures and standards you set earlier must be enforced so your team of managers gains the authority and respect they deserve.
6. Provide Evidence of Compliance
With everything now in place, business leaders will want proof you have all of this under control. Guess who will be your best friend? Yep, reports. Those reports are your justification that IT assets are being managed across the company. They will show not only business leaders as to why IT asset management is critical but everyone who is required to comply. You’ll get less pushback and greater adoption when everyone can see just how important tracking IT assets is to the company.
These reports shouldn’t be in static spreadsheets. They shouldn’t be in disparate reports. They should be in one place, accessible to all stakeholders, from one screen. Anyone with a question about IT assets should be able to have their answer in seconds, not days. One last thing - be sure everyone who is supposed to be using the IT asset management system is actually using it. Ban spreadsheets. Enforce a standardized reporting tool.
7. Make the Team Work
As IT asset manager, you are the leader. The team captain. You can only be as strong as your weakest player. Getting your team to work together for the common good is essential. When everyone is using the same tool, which becomes the golden record of truth, it’s hard to veer off track. Communicate the value often by sharing key metrics that prove things are working. Provide metrics as to how many hours have been saved through strict adherence to the IT asset management policies and processes.
IT asset management hasn’t always been easy, but if you stick to Gartner’s recommendations, your job will get much simpler.