By Dr. Barbara Rembiesa, President & CEO of IAITAM
In organizational IT, implementing change is part of a normal workday. As IT Asset Managers, we participate in a continuous stream of projects where new assets types or licensing models test the processes and controls we have built to manage the asset portfolio. We apply assessment techniques to determine how to apply our processes to the change and then march forward on achieving organizational goals. So, why is IT and IT Asset Management, with all of this experience implementing change, seen as unwilling or unable to move forward with new technology fast enough? The criticism is an enduring one and frequently used as an advantage for out-of-the-datacenter solutions. At least part of that speed criticism comes from the response time and lack of flexibility in the business management (financial, contractual) and the logistical management of new technology. Since IT Asset Management has significant responsibilities in these areas how can we do better?
Can we be unaware of the ramifications of a change? I believe that is part of the problem. We are so used to dealing with the minutia of change that we forget to question whether this might be a major trend rather than just an exception. This oversight means that we are halfway through incorporating small adjustments before we realize that we have underestimated the impact and that instead of adjustments we needed to be taking broader, innovative actions.
The growth of the role of mobile devices is an excellent example. Although executives were quick to see the potential for mobile devices, the actual management of these devices changed slowly; only moving from a reimbursement/expense focus like cell phones to the full support of an entirely new paradigm when there was ample, painful evidence that more management was necessary. When management of assets is out of step with usage, mistakes that are easily prevented happen such as:
- Policies were either rudimentary or incomplete for some time after official use had begun
- Security was not prioritized until issues and concerns arose, once again after use had begun
- Processes such as asset standard development, request and approval and procurement were circumvented because the existing processes were out of sync with the new technology
- Initial ROI was oversold because it was harder to execute than expected without process support
- Communication and education, if done at all, was limited to the “logins and passwords” type rather than the “how to appropriately make the most of mobility as an employee” type leading to an escalation in support costs
To avoid this scenario, the obvious step one is to find ways to heighten our ability to see ramifications from technology improvements. That might include attending conferences, reading (and questioning) articles or observing what vendors are saying and selling. Next, we need to broaden our assessment activities to include the big picture in addition to the nuts and bolts of processes. We must question our presumptions more often. This approach will give us time to develop solutions or create objective problem assessments rather than be perceived as a negative, inflexible resource.
In addition to catching onto important changes earlier, there is an opportunity to make a point when we are eventually handed the mess to clean up. Applying the best practices and communicating about the steps offers an educational opportunity while the price for the mistakes is fresh in everyone’s mind. If you don’t believe that this will work, check out the articles currently being published about how to successfully build a mobile/BYOD program. Each one has a bit of advice straight out of the best practices that you already know.