One of the most familiar challenges in the world of IT is the chasm between IT service management (ITSM) and IT asset management (ITAM). A primary reason for this is because the goals of each discipline are fundamentally different. Historically, the IT asset management function has been responsible for tracking and managing the inventory, costs and contractual aspects of IT assets (including hardware and software). IT service management, on the other hand, deliver services related to those assets including deployment, patching, and configuration, as well as resolving problems and incidents that occur as part of their routine use.
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ITAM and ITSM therefore approach their roles from entirely different perspectives; ITAM takes an asset- and cost-oriented approach, and ITSM takes a service-oriented approach. And while this is perfectly reasonable, given their respective roles within the organization, it is also the main cause of the frequent disconnect between the two disciplines.
Unfortunately, this siloed approach winds up creating a drain on time, money, and resources. Furthermore, it results in the failure to capitalize on opportunities to improve the effectiveness and better meet the goals of each respective discipline. There are, however, ways to integrate IT asset management and IT service management so as to fully and effectively reap the benefits of each.
In the following use cases, you’ll see how two sets of goals (user support and asset management) which are in conflict with each other and, more importantly, how the ITAM and ITSM functions can be integrated to provide the greatest good to the organization.
Hardware and Software Details = Better End User Support
It is essential for service desk staff to have hardware and software data available to them so they can trouble shoot incidents and problems occurring on end-user machines. This includes information like installed applications, RAM, disk space, and other machine attributes. Therefore, when Janet, a graphic designer, contacts Jeremy at the service desk complaining that her machine is running slowly, Jeremy can see she only has virtually no available RAM on her computer due to the types of applications she’s running.
Ideally hardware and software information can be found directly within the ITSM solutions’ configuration management database (CMDB), which is imported directly from an ITAM solution or discovery tool. In the absence of technology integration, simply providing service desk analysts with hardware and software details is an important first step.
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Inventory Information = More Efficient Deployments
Let’s say Janet submits a request through the self-service portal for a new computer. The request is approved, and an existing computer in the warehouse is deployed to Janet’s office. The service desk has done its job. Meanwhile, the lease on that laptop has expired. Steve, the IT asset manager, believes the computer is still sitting on a shelf in the warehouse and, when he goes to process the return of the machine, it is missing. Now, the ITAM team will not only need to track down the machine, but the organization will also continue to pay on the lease until a new machine is ordered and deployed to Janet. This is an added inconvenience to Janet, who has already spent time organizing her files and folders on her new computer.
When IT asset management and IT service management are working together, service desk professionals have access to hardware and software inventory information, and they know which assets are in stock and available for deployment. For teams at a higher level of integration, an automated process can be developed that looks up availability when an end user makes a request via a self-service portal. If the requested asset isn’t in stock, a ticket gets sent to purchasing for fulfillment.
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License Availability Information = Reduced License Compliance Risk
Let’s take the above scenario one step further. Along with her request for a new laptop, Janet requests that Microsoft Office Suite and Adobe Creative Suite be installed. How does Jeremy fulfill the request if he doesn’t have information about what is available in the license pool? Without a system of checks and balances to ensure there are licenses available, your organization can easily drift out of compliance with vendor license agreements.
In a world where IT asset management and IT service management are well integrated, service desk professionals have access to this information, whether through the CMDB or a license management tool, so they know how many licenses for any given application are available. If all licensed software has already been deployed, a ticket would then be sent to procurement to purchase additional licenses.
Software Usage Data = Less Application Clutter and Sprawl
We can agree it’s important to provide service desk staff with software inventory data. Why not take it a step further and also provide software usage data, to provide the IT team visibility into what—and whether—deployed applications are actually being used? That way, when Jeremy builds Janet’s new machine, he can determine what applications aren’t needed based on her software usage history. Let’s face it: the ITSM team doesn’t want a bunch of junk taking up disk space if it’s not being used. And the ITAM team wants to save money by reclaiming and re-allocating software that’s sitting idle so they don’t automatically purchase new licenses when requests come in.
It is therefore important that software usage data is not only tracked, but also shared across teams—so that so that both ITAM and ITSM’s goals are met.
It goes without saying that in an ideal world, IT asset data can be accessed directly through the service desk software used by those delivering services and fulfilling requests relating to those assets. Better yet, the processes of looking up relevant IT asset data and determining the appropriate course of action (whether by fulfillment, procurement, or other) can be automated through the ticketing system.
But even without seamless integration of IT asset management software and IT service management software, a huge amount of value can be obtained if service desk staff have access to the types of IT asset data described above, even if it is via a standalone ITAM tool. This will demonstrate the power of the data, give your IT organization a strong foundation to build upon, and potentially pave the path toward deeper integration in the future.
Watch our on-demand ITAM webinar series to learn more about software audit preparation, managing hardware and software inventory, reducing software license costs, and streamlining IT asset reporting.