ITAM Team – A Story About My Team’s Transformation

What is the make-up of your ITAM team – Here is my team’s transformation story

Probably the most common topic of discussion within ITAM is: “What is the make-up of the ideal ITAM team?”

These discussions typically focus to the number of staff members assigned to the team and what functions that team is responsible for.  In most cases, it seems the ITAM team consists of maybe two or three people to run their entire ITAM program.  In my case, our ITAM team at Mutual of Omaha consists of twelve (12) members.  You can imagine the surprise this gets from other ITAM Practitioners and the myriad of questions they have around it, especially since our environment is not the largest environment.

The ITAM team at Mutual of Omaha has not always be at ails of our team and the journey it took to get where we are today, I want to review what I learned from a survey of other organizations related to their ITAM teams.

I teamed up with Paul ‘Doc’ Burnham, another IAITAM Fellow, to conduct a limited survey to get some answers related to what other organizations’ ITAM teams looked like to see if there was such a thing as a ‘typical’ ITAM team. While I will not go into all the details, here is an overview of the results:

Survey Objectives:

  • Identify a defined set of questions to ask various organizations related to their ITAM team make-up and functions they performed
  • Identify organizations to survey
  • Analysis of the first set of results requires a minimum of 50 responses
  • Determine if any correlations can be made from the survey results

Survey Results:

  • Responses from 75 organizations of various size and complexity were tallied
    • Employee counts were: number of companies (employee range)
      • 3 (under 500); 7 (500-1,000); 16 (1,000-2,500); 24 (2,500 – 7,000); 17 (7,000-15,000); 10 (15,000+)
    • Team sizes were: number of staff (number of companies)
      • 1 (3); 2 (11); 3 (28); 4 (18); 5 (9); 6 (5); 12 (1)
    • No consistent correlations were evident; however, here are some interesting observations:
      • The more highly regulated industries (Financial Services, Pharmaceuticals, Insurance, etc.) did have most the larger teams
      • Several companies, in addition to conglomerates, had multiple ITAM teams, broken down by division or sub-divisions
      • The only function consistent across all ITAM teams: An asset repository to support the inventory management of desktop computers
      • 2nd most common function consistent across ITAM teams: An asset repository to support the management of enterprise desktop software license compliance

As you can see from the results from the limited survey, there was not a “typical” ITAM team.  This is true for the number of staff on the ITAM teams as well – with only one organization having over six members assigned to the ITAM team.  That was of course Mutual of Omaha.

So how did Mutual of Omaha end up with an ITAM team of twelve (12)?  It was not by accident I can assure you.  Here are some of the details on our transformational journey from conception (1999) to where we are today (2017).

The Mutual of Omaha’s environment consists of: 5,000-6000 employees, 15,000+ devices; and 3,800+ software titles.

I can break our journey of transformation into 5 distinct phases or eras:

  • Infancy: Years 1-3
  • Toddler: Years 4-6
  • Teenager: Years 7-10
  • Adult: Years 10-13
  • Mature Elder: Years 14+ – where we are today

Before I go into each of the phases/era, let me identify and define the function of each role:

 

Role Function
Capacity Planner (IS Asset Manager) Procurement, Budget, Contracts, HAM/SAM
Project Manager Coordinate activities around developing ITAM process and governance
System Engineer At the direction of Capacity Planners, SEs enhance ITAM tool data management capabilities / Build integrations between ITAM tool and Procurement-Human Resource system
IS Contract Manager Manage all IS Contracts
Report Manager Assemble IS asset data / Develop IS asset reports around HAM
IS Asset Administrator Assemble IS asset data / Build relationships between IS asset data and discovered hardware and software CIs / SAM reporting
Area Coordinator (around 4 Area Coordinators per area division – 12 area divisions across Enterprise – 48 persons) Track Hardware location for specific area / Ensure software needed for area employees was installed and functional

 

Infancy: 

In preparation for Y2K, the Information Services (IS) department was struggling to accurately identify all the company’s IT assets (hardware and software) that could possibly be affected.  This of course got the attention of Senior Management.

  • Key items: No defined single source of data. There were numerous repositories of data ranging from SQL and Access databases, to hundreds of spreadsheets, to tribal knowledge. This was compounded by the limited access to or even knowledge of these data sources.
  • Key actions/results: The first official ITAM team was created. The mission was to bring an ITAM program to life that included the discovery of assets and a repository of key asset data.
  • ITAM Roles and location:
ITAM Team – Infancy Era Silo Member
Micros Capacity Planner Mainframe Capacity Planner
Micros Capacity Planner Telecom Capacity Planner
Project Manager Datacom Capacity Planner
System Engineer Midrange-Micro Server Capacity Planner
System Engineer Area Coordinator (48)
System Engineer
  • ITAM Program – State at end of Infancy Era:
Implemented ITAM Function/Tools Functions Occurring in SILO Gaps in ITAM
HAM (very limited) Budget ITAM governance and supporting processes
SAM (very limited) IS Contracts

 

IS Asset Discovery
IS Contracts (very limited) All work performed manually Single Asset Repository
Budget Contract Management Processes
All work performed manually Contract Database
Common processes between ITAM team and silos
Automation
ITAM primarily Micros (desktop hardware/software) centric

 

Toddler:

The ITAM Program was implemented across the enterprise and showing great progress and value.

  • Key items: A single ITAM system was implemented to be a single source of truth; Gaps were quickly being identified that needed addressing to meet the ITAM Program objective. These gaps included processes, metrics, integrations for data, and personnel.
  • Key actions/results: ITAM team was expanded to address identified gaps; it expanded in personnel; and it was fully integrated with all the major systems (procurement, contracts, discovery, deployment, HR, etc.) across the enterprise. The ITAM Program was the “source of truth” for everything ITAM. Metrics were implemented to document the ITAM Program progress and value – which reported a validated value of over 25x back to the enterprise year over year.
  • ITAM Roles and location:
ITAM Team – Toddler Era Silo Member
Micros Capacity Planner Area Coordinator (48)
Micros Capacity Planner
Project Manager
Mainframe Capacity Planner
Telecom Capacity Planner
Datacom Capacity Planner
Midrange-Micro Server Capacity Planner
System Engineer
System Engineer
System Engineer
System Engineer
Asset Administrator
  • ITAM Program – State at end of Toddler Era:
Implemented ITAM Function/Tools Functions occurring in SILO Gaps in ITAM
Cohesive Team

 

Some work performed manually ITAM governance and supporting processes
ITAM system implemented Not all ITAM processes have been moved to ITAM team
IS Contract Management Processes (in development) Automation
Contract Database
Budget
IS Asset Discovery
Single Asset Repository
Relationships between IT assets and discovered Cis (in development)
Enterprise HAM/SAM (in development)
Integration between ITAM system and Procurement/Human Resource system

 

Teenager: The Break-Up

The ITAM Program was performing better than planned at the beginning of this era; but then all good things must come to an end.

  • Key items: ITAM was fully integrated with all the major systems (discovery, procurement and HR) across the enterprise. Reorganization and restructuring was in the air.
  • Key actions/results: Reorganization shuffled the ITAM team across three different management/division structures – starting with: IS Operations; then IS Security; then IS Operations (again); then IS Infrastructure. It seemed like we had no home and no one wanted us, so we referred to our team as the “Island of Misfit Toys”.
    • The end of the dedicated ITAM team – staff members were spread across various teams resulting in the loss of the cohesiveness and consistency that was once provided by the ITAM team
      • The “former” ITAM team members – Micros Capacity Planners, that went to the Micro Desktop Support Team were tasked to continue the ITAM Program based on limited control or influence with the other teams – basically “keep the lights on” mode.
      • Things quickly started to revert from a single source back to the silo mentality.
      • Over reporting of “value” occurred from the various teams, because each team wanted to report the ITAM value as their value
    • ITAM Roles and location:
ITAM Team – Teenager Era Silo Member / Team
Micros Capacity Planner Micros Capacity Planner / Micro Desktop Support Team – keep the lights on mode
Micros Capacity Planner Micros Capacity Planner / Micro Desktop Support Team – keep the lights on mode
Asset Administrator Asset Administrator / Micro Desktop Support Team – keep the lights on mode
Project Manager / IS Project Team
Mainframe Capacity Planner / Data Processing Team
Telecom Capacity Planner / Datacom Team
Datacom Capacity Planner / Datacom Team
Midrange-Micro Server Capacity Planner / Server Support Team
System Engineers (4) / Various IS Support teams
Area Coordinator (48)
  • ITAM Program – State:
Implemented ITAM Function/Tools SILO Function Gaps in ITAM
ITAM system implemented Some work performed manually ITAM governance and supporting processes
Contract Database IS Contract Management Processes Not all ITAM processes have been moved to ITAM team
IS Asset Discovery Budget Automation not fully implemented
Single Asset Repository Relationships between IT assets and discovered CIs Cohesive team
Enterprise HAM/SAM processes (development slowed) Implementation of enterprise HAM/SAM processes
Integration between ITAM system and Procurement/Human Resource system
Early stages of automation (stalled)

 

Adult: The Bands is Back Together

Fortunately, or unfortunately (depending on your perspective), a series of events occurred that once again garnered the attention of Senior Management.

  • Key items: Reorganization and restructuring had stabilized and Senior Management realized they had lost the “value” once provided by ITAM with regards to having a single source of truth for validating governance and processes.
  • Key actions/results: A single dedicated ITAM team was created (re-created) under IS Operations with the full support of the CIO. Their task was to re-establish a robust and comprehensive ITAM Program that included the validation of process, governance and automation. The ITAM team was recreated very similar to the structure in the Teenager era.
  • ITAM Roles and location:
ITAM Team – Adult Era Silo Member
Micros Capacity Planner Area Coordinator (48)
Micros Capacity Planner
Asset Administrator
Project Manager
Mainframe Capacity Planner
Telecom Capacity Planner
Datacom Capacity Planner
Midrange-Micro Server Capacity Planner
System Engineer
System Engineer
System Engineer
System Engineer
  • ITAM Program – State:
Implemented ITAM Function/Tools SILO Function Gaps in ITAM
ITAM system implemented Some work still performed manually outside of ITAM team Robust ITAM governance and supporting processes
Contract Database Automation not fully implemented
IS Asset Discovery
Single Asset Repository
Incomplete implementation of enterprise HAM/SAM processes
Integration between ITAM system and Procurement/Human Resource system
Automation

 

Mature Elder: Solid and Stable

It took almost three years from the creation (re-creation) of the ITAM team before a fully implemented and robust and “mature” ITAM Program was re-established across the enterprise.

  • Key items: Identified manual processes occurring in ITAM; requirements for increased automation; requirements validation of processes and governance.
  • Key actions/results: ITAM regained its ability to be the “single source of truth” for all things ITAM; Manual processes occurring outside of ITAM were eliminated; Senior Management regained the “value” they needed and wanted with regards to having a single source of truth for validating governance and processes. The ITAM team expanded by one to include a Procurement Specialist which provided direct control over ITAM procurement activities.
  • ITAM Roles and location:

The Capacity Planner job title and descriptions were changed over to IS Asset Manager with more defined ITAM functions identified.

ITAM Team – Mature Elder Era Silo Member
IS Asset Manager – Micros
IS Asset Manager – Micros
IS Asset Manager – Mainframe
IS Asset Manager – Telecom
IS Asset Manager – Datacom
IS Asset Manager – Midrange/Micro Server
IS Asset Administrator
IS Contract Manager
IS Contract Manager
IS Contract Manager
System Engineer
IS Procurement Specialist
  • ITAM Program – State:
Implemented ITAM Function/Tools SILO Function Gaps in ITAM
Robust ITAM program with process, governance, and automation

 

Recapping the changes over our transformation:   

  • ITAM Team Roles as were progressed through the 5 eras:
Roles Infancy Toddler Teenager Adult Elder
Micros Capacity Planner X X X X X
Micros Capacity Planner X X X X X
Project Manager X X
System Engineer X X X
System Engineer X X
System Engineer X X
Mainframe Capacity Planner X X X
Telecom Capacity Planner X X X
Datacom Capacity Planner X X X
Midrange-Micro Server Capacity Planner X X X
System Engineer X
Asset Administrator X X X X
Report Manager
IS Procurement Specialist X
IS Contract Manager X
IS Contract Manager X
IS Contract manager X
Area Coordinator (48)

 

Recognized Benefits:

As you know there are lots of pros and cons related to any organizational structure, and we have lived through more than our share as we transformed over the years.  We did learn early on (Toddler era) that unless the ITAM team can provide a defined value, it is destining to be eliminated.  Our Teenager era break-up caused the over-reporting of value that was corrected in our Adult era.

Here is a high-level overview of some of the more significate benefits we believe have come because of our current ITAM team structure:

 

Significant Benefits Provided by ITAM Team Structure
Reduced risk of software compliance issues Efficient processing of hardware and software distribution
Accurate and detailed reporting Holistic vendor management relationship
Contract follow through Cost avoidance
Automation Cohesive team
Knowledge sharing Consistent enterprise processes
Reduced personnel (others free to work on different tasks) Verifiable ‘Value’ provided reporting from a documented methodology

 

Closing Comments:

Being part of this team from almost the beginning, I have found the experience fascinating and very satisfying to have played a significant part in building our team.  I am very proud of what we have accomplished.

Is the structure of our ITAM team the best structure?  I like to think so, based on our organization and environment.

This experience has made me very passionate about ITAM.  This story was about the team, so I didn’t go into the details related to the ITAM processes; but that may be a story for a different day. Once again, I am very proud of what we accomplished and look forward to what the future has in store.

In case you were wandering, I was the original IS Asset Administrator.  We are definitely not the “Island of Misfit Toys”, maybe now we should think about calling ourselves “The Dirty Dozen” – of course if we take our direct manager into consideration, we would then be a “Baker’s Dozen”.

About Dayle Keyes

Dayle is an IS Asset Manager at Mutual of Omaha and received the designation of IAITAM Fellow in 2016. Dayle has been a part of the Mutual of Omaha ITAM team for the past seventeen years. Dayle was integral in building the ITAM team at Mutual of Omaha and continues to design, develop and implement ITAM processes and governance across the Mutual of Omaha enterprise.