IT Asset Management

The People Factor: How to Make Your ITAM Tools More Productive

By Steffani Lomax

When you buy sports equipment, such as golf clubs, a tennis racquet, a soccer ball or a basketball, you can’t get the most out of it without some training on how to use it. Even if you own the best equipment, you need to learn how to use the “tool” to your best advantage and understand the strategy of the sport to optimize your performance.

It’s the same with ITAM tools. Many tools are very effective but complex. After you purchase a tool, there is still significant up front work that needs to be accomplished, as well as training and ongoing activities.

Tools are a key component of your ITAM program. They are essential for automating processes such as discovery, license and lifecycle management. However, these tools need to be deployed, run and managed by people. The human factor is critical to ensure that tools are working properly and that the data they generate is accurate and correctly interpreted.

Over the past 10 years, various research and industry analysts have stated that an effective ITAM program should rely 20% on tools and 80% on people and process. This formula can be applied to any tools implementation such as inventory, software license management or ITAM repository.

What makes the implementation of a tool successful? Success depends on good data, solid planning and skilled resources. The tool must generate complete and accurate data, but without good planning, an organization is unable to leverage the full benefits of the solution. People are also critical – not only for implementing the solution, but for reviewing, evaluating and normalizing data for accuracy and completeness. People play a key role up front and perform ongoing tasks to ensure that the tool is updated and generates accurate data.

How should an organization approach the rollout and management of an ITAM tool from a people perspective? Let’s say that your company just purchased a software license management system. What do you do next?

We have published a white paper that describes a 10-step process to make the rollout of an ITAM tool successful, from a people perspective. In the paper, we describe the roles, responsibilities and skills required to help organizations realize the maximum return on investment (ROI) from their tools. To learn more, you can download the white paper.

Building the New Business Case for ITAM ― Part 3: The Components of a Business Case

By Steffani Lomax

To continue with our series, what are the key components of a standard business case?

Executive Summary – states the reason for the business case and a high-level description of the recommendation

Business Requirements – describes the detailed needs of the business that must be addressed

Financial Analysis & Benefits – calculates the expected financial savings and/or cost avoidance and includes the Cash Flow Analysis, Payback Period and Return On Investment (ROI)

Alternatives and their Business Impact – presents additional options to the recommended approach and how these options will affect the business, both positively and negatively

Recommendations with Implementation Plan – outlines the proposed approach and specifically how it will be deployed

Timeframe to Realize Benefits – indicates the points in time that specific financial and soft benefits will occur

Typically, the financial analysis and benefits component is the most challenging section to create. In this section, it is important to include a Cash Flow Analysis, Payback Period and Return on Investment (ROI). Here are some specific tips:

  • The Cash Flow Analysis should consist of proposed as well as “business as usual” pricing, and answers to these questions:
    • What is the problem you are trying to solve?
    • What is the business opportunity?
    • What risks are associated with each option?
    • What is the risk of doing nothing?
    • What business value is generated from each option?

  • It is imperative to use your company’s standard Cash Flow Analysis model rather than create a new model unfamiliar to your Treasury, Finance and other Senior Executives.

  • Know and understand how your company views real and soft savings included in your Cash Flow Analysis.

  • Be aware of the business and budget planning cycle. Even the strongest financial analysis could be rejected outside of your planning cycle.

  • Produce both a summary and detailed version of the Cash Flow Analysis, retaining the detailed model for non-executive discussions.

  • The Payback Period should be 12 months or fewer, or the financial team may lose interest.

  • The ROI section should include an assessment of cost and savings, measure real and soft ROI, establish a value to these measurements and provide both the Net Present Value and the Internal Rate of Return.

  • Selling the Business Case

    Once you have completed the business case, it is time to present it to your leadership team. Selling the business case is just as important as building it. It is important to understand and counter objections, understand each stakeholder’s reservations and have a plan of attack to address each one. Work with your champion to continue to sell after the business case is approved. Finally, prove that the recommended pilot project is delivering the expected benefits.

    In conclusion, make sure that your business case addresses a pain point that the decision-makers are experiencing. Understand both the hot buttons and objections of your target audience and be in a position to address each one. Use a financial model to calculate the cost savings and factor in risk and compliance issues. Establish a pilot program that will quickly demonstrate value. Finally, measure and communicate the results of the pilot project to promote further executive buy-in and sponsorship of your ITAM program.

Building the New Business Case for ITAM ― Part 2: The Preparation Process

By Steffani Lomax

In my last post, we examined the cost savings and risks associated with ITAM. Now let’s review the process for building the new business case for ITAM.

Find a Champion
The first step is to find a champion. A champion is a visionary, evangelist and strong advocate for the business case. He or she understands the need for the business case and serves as a catalyst to raise awareness about the initiative. The champion provides a sense of energy and passion, demonstrates why the business case is important, rallies support for the cause and helps clear the path that lies ahead.

Identify Specific Gaps in Your ITAM Program
Once you have found your champion, identify the specific gaps in your program that need to be filled. Do you have enough skilled resources? Does your organization lack processes to track and manage IT assets through their entire lifecycle? Do you need more robust tools to discover IT assets, manage contracts and software licensing, and meter software usage? Do you have a repository in place that houses all your IT asset records? Is there adequate integration of existing processes and tools?

Know Your Audience
After identifying the specific gaps that need to be addressed, take the time to fully understand the point of view of your audience so that you can tailor a sales pitch that will resonate. Who is your audience? Do you have one audience, or multiple targets? The CIO, CTO, CFO, VP of IT Operations, VP of Procurement and IT General Counsel are examples of possible stakeholders who will need to hear and respond to your message. It will be important to identify and understand their pain points or hot buttons to build a convincing case. Consider building a unique sales pitch for each target audience.

Calculate the Cost and Risk of Doing Nothing
Presenting the cost and risk of doing nothing will draw attention to your business case. For example, failing an audit leads to unbudgeted and potentially unnecessary spending. Overpaying maintenance on software that is not being used creates an unnecessary expense. Entering into a negotiation with a leading supplier without complete, accurate information about your IT assets will probably result in unfavorable terms and pricing. Finally, being found guilty of non-compliance can lead to financial and legal issues for your company.

Recommend a Pilot Program
The next step is to recommend a pilot program that will demonstrate a quick win. Determining your compliance position with a leading software supplier in advance of an audit or contract negotiation presents a great opportunity to demonstrate cost avoidance. Performing a self-audit for IBM, Microsoft or Adobe licensing is a great way to begin since it will typically uncover some level of unnecessary spending. Is there a better way to demonstrate the value of your ITAM program?

Following the process we just described will help change the perception of ITAM from a cost center to an investment in the business. A cost center implies a reactive approach, while an investment involves the type of proactive approach indicative of the maturity level you will need to achieve with your ITAM program.

In my final post in this series, I will discuss the components of a business case.

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