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The Scope of IT Asset Management:  Results of the 2017 IAITAM Practitioner Survey

The practitioner survey for the IT Asset Management (ITAM) profession is undertaken to provide evidence for how successful the profession, the ITAM program and the individuals in the profession are   and, when feasible, with historical comparison.  Some of the core questions that capture the goals for the survey are:

  • How pervasive across industries are formal ITAM programs?
  • Is the ITAM program growing in acceptance and recognition?
  • Is the ITAM professional likewise growing in acceptance and recognition?
  • How are ITAM programs being staffed?
  • What are the characteristics of those in the ITAM profession?
  • What is the scope of ITAM-related responsibilities covered by these ITAM professionals?
  • What are the salary levels being attained at this time and compared to the past?

With the practitioner survey, IAITAM provides insight into the state of the organization and the individuals conducting the ITAM programs within those organizations.  The results definitely provide input to what can be achieved and the possible directions where effort can be applied to achieve more.  The survey taps into the characteristics of organizations and the people working in similar capacities across the globe.  With the rate of change in the scope of responsibilities and in technology itself, the practitioner survey is not a stagnant document but updates to reflect transitions occurring over time.  Otherwise, we’d have a goal of virtualization from the mid-2000s still on the list!

With access to well-qualified respondents, the survey also provides a view into the perspectives and experiences from those managing and executing the processes necessary for IT Asset Management across the major organizations of the present day. 

Process

At the Spring ACE in May of 2017, ITAM practitioners were asked to submit responses to a 28-question survey about themselves, their role and their view of ITAM within their organizations. The survey was available on-line after the conference as well.  Over 250 respondents contributed to the survey results, and response tallies were confirmed by the IAITAM office team.  Results are presented individually as percentages and where appropriate, compared to previous survey results.

Organizational Characteristics

Answers to general questions about the organization itself offer insight into what types of organizations have developed IT Asset Management programs.  By definition, the ITAM program centralizes and systemizes the management of a wide portfolio of IT assets.  Every organization has a wide portfolio of IT assets but some still manage the assets without cohesion, limiting the organization-wide savings and risk management that can be achieved.  A look into the broad application of ITAM across industries is excellent evidence for those launching a centralized, systemized ITAM program.

The organizational information is also helpful in interpreting the remarks made about the level of acceptance and support that ITAM is receiving.    Reporting structures and staffing indicate a level of commitment, although the results have to be considered against the size of the organization.

Encompassing Industries

The people responding to the survey are employed by organizations that span industry classifications.  Banking/finance (13%), health care (9%) and information technology (11%) organizations continue to have a strong percentage of respondents as they have since the profession formalized in 2002.  However, insurance dropped to 5% instead of being another long term leading part of the response group.  Government took a dominant spot this year (12.3% when military and non-military are considered together).  All sizes of organizations are represented although almost 56% work for organizations of more than 10,000 employees, an increase in organizations of this size from last year’s survey of 51%.

More Report at a Higher Level

The number of respondents in management level positions versus those not in management position was very close to equal this year with 49% in management roles and 51% in positions not considered management.  A majority (67.5%) of the respondents report into a director or higher (including CEO) although there are also quite a few respondents that checked the “other” category implying that the titles of their management did not fit into the categories provided.  Just four years ago, only 54% of the survey’s respondents reported a high-level boss.

Of the 49% in management roles (125 respondents), their staff sizes are:

 

Question:  How many people report to you?
Answer Options 2017 Response
1-2 people 34.4%
3-5 people 30.4%
6-10 people 19.2%
11-20 people 8%
20+ people 8%

 

Note that there is no clarification of full-time or part-time reflected in these percentages.

Is ITAM Incorporated into Organizational Infrastructure?

Although the size of staff remains variable due to a number of legitimate organizational factors, the recognition of ITAM in the job description is a significant indicator of formal recognition for the ITAM contribution.  In the past, having a job description at all has been a problem but this year, 76.6 % state that they have a formal job description.  Unfortunately, not every job description adequately describes their job responsibilities with less than 10% reporting that the job description is complete.

 

Question:  Does your current job description adequately define/describe your responsibilities as an IT Asset Manager within the organization?

For the last two years, we have asked about the number of people that have ITAM responsibilities as at least part of their job description.  The size of the organization is the major factor in determining the number of individuals that are doing the work and is not what we were looking for in this question.   The goal was to look at the penetration of ITAM responsibilities into organizational documentation (the job description).  The question yielded higher penetration than expected, with results at every level and not just at the 1-2 person level that is often the case when large organizations have immature programs. As stated earlier, 56% of respondents work for organizations with more than 10,000 employees.

 

Question: How many in your organization have ITAM responsibilities in their job descriptions?
Answer Options 2016 Response 2017 Response
1-2 people 28.0% 37%
3-5 people 31.9% 25.3%
6-10 people 18.1% 16.1%
11-20 people 7.6% 10.4%
20+ people 14.4% 11.2%

 

Budget

Another infrastructure acceptance criterion is the existence of a separate ITAM budget which permits easier recognition of value delivered as well as a better view into the costs of an ITAM program.  While it would be reasonable to ask if there is an “ITAM box” on the organizational chart, the additional recognition of the program with a separate budget was chosen as a better indicator of visibility to executive management.  In the 2014 survey, almost half of the respondents had a separate budget.  In 2017, the percentage of organizations with separate budgets for ITAM dropped slightly from the 2014 high to 44.6%.  The 2016 survey had an even lower number of respondents with a separate budget (41%).  These changes do not seem to reflect any significant change.  The lack of movement in the percentage could be a positive sign because ITAM as an entity has sustained over critical technological changes.

However, with 39.7% answering that the budget is not separate, further examination of the placement of ITAM responsibilities within the organizational structure is an excellent topic to consider for further study.  In the past, diversity in organizational positioning was expected except for at least a minimum core set of responsibilities within an IT group. This may still be the case for ITAM and is worthy of a future survey.

Budget remains a difficult question to answer for many of our respondents as 15.7% answered unknown when asked about the separate budget or not.  Of those that were aware of the nature of the budget (204 respondents), 52.9% of them said yes to having a separate budget.

In a second question to be answered only by those with a separate budget, 25.2% answered that the budget was the same as the previous year.  Almost 10% saw an increase of 1-10% in the budget this year.

Formalizing ITAM Positions

Individuals with job titles specific to ITAM or a Key Process Area within ITAM took a dramatic upturn with 91.6% responding with ITAM specific titles of some type, a marked increase from 69% last year and 70% in 2014.  Most titles were not specific to an asset type, with only 6.1% of that 91.6% with hardware in the title and 19.85% with software in the title.  The ITAM profession has obviously permeated the Human Resources title-salary lists, confirmed by the length of time that the respondents said that they had their titles:

 

Question:  How long have you held this title?
Answer Options 2017 Response
Less than 1 year 12.7%
1-2 years 16.3%
2-4 years 26.6%
5-7 years 19.8%
8-10 years 6.8%
10+ years 17.9%

 

As ITAM becomes more formalized within the organization’s structure, a requirement for certification might be expected.  When asked if certification was a requirement, only 24.1% answered yes, but that is a steady increase over time since only 14% required certification in 2014 and 22.3% last year.  While it may not be a requirement for all, the respondents reported that the majority of their organizations take continuing education and professional certification seriously:

Question:  What level of importance does your organization place on continuing education and professional certifications?

This chart shows that over 83% of respondents reported that their organizations place some importance or consider it mandatory to have training and certification for IT Asset Management.

Staffing Commitment

In most of the organizations that respondents work for, the IT Asset Management staff members are all employees (over 62.4%, down slightly from 64% in 2016).  In another downturn, only 23.6% (instead of 2016’s 27.1%) are employees with a few temporary staff.  Those with an even match of temporary and permanent workers or more temporary/outsourced workers dropped from 9% in 2016 to 6.2%. There is a potentially important leap in outsourcing to 7.0%, up from 2.4% in 2016.

Along with commitment to staff as employees, the level of dedication to ITAM is significant.  A job description with ITAM defined in it is an empty commitment if there is no time given to execute those tasks.  When addressing the question “of the people in your organization recognized as members of the ITAM program most:” the answers were:

  • Working full-time in ITAM was the majority answer (56.6%)
  • Employees working at least half the time came in at 26%
  • Some organizations have employees are working less than half time on ITAM (17.4%)

ITAM processes only being worked on less than half the time the employees are working is a difficult environment in which to do more than survive events such as a refresh or an audit.  However, it should be noted that these results are marginally better than the 2016 percentages where 21.0% reported working less than half time on ITAM.

ITAM Value

For a subjective view on the degree of acceptance that ITAM receives, respondents are asked how they feel IT Asset Management is valued by their peers and the executives of the organization.  The value perceived by others is an indicator for how much support ITAM receives from funding to participation.  The overall trend of perceived value (when all the answers from “somewhat” to “utmost” value are totaled) is over 90% for the first time.  The chart below contrasts the latest results with the results from previous surveys:

 

Question:  Do you feel that IT Asset Management is valued by your peers and senior management?
Answer Options 2014 Response 2016 Response 2017 Response
Not valued at all 0.0% 2.9% 2.5%
Very little value 16.5% 10.3% 5%
Somewhat valued 39.2% 40.5% 11.2%
Valued most of the time 36.1% 39.7% 55.4%
Of the utmost value to the organization 8.2% 6.6% 26%

 

To evaluate some aspect of measurable value, respondents were asked about percentage of savings reported in the previous year.  A majority of respondents were unable to answer this question which has been the unfortunate result of all previous practitioner surveys.  However, with almost 100 (96) able to answer the question this year, the results from just those who answered are shared as a matter of interest.

 

Question:  What savings did the ITAM program deliver last year? Describe the savings as a percentage of the entire IT budget.
Answer Options 2017 Response
1-5% savings 33.3%
6-10% savings 19.8%
11-15% savings 13.5%
16-20% savings 12.5%
over 20% savings 20.8%

 

Who are these Professionals?

To evaluate the responses best, some information about the individuals answering the questions is helpful.  These answers can also provide data about career trends for ITAM.

Personal Information

From the first surveys, the respondents have come from all age groups but have followed the consistent pattern of an increase in ITAM professionals in the categories over 30 years of age.  While small percentages are joining the field earlier in their careers, it is most likely that candidates are chosen who have relevant experience before ITAM.

 

Question:  What is your age?
Answer Options 2014 2016 2017
18 – 24 2.0% 0.6% 0.8%
25 – 30 5.0% 4.3% 4.0%
31 – 35 9.0% 11.8% 12.1%
36 – 40 11.0% 13.8% 9.6%
41 – 45 15.0% 14.1% 15.3%
46 – 50 12.0% 14.4% 16.5%
51 – 55 24.0% 18.7% 16.9%
56 – 60 12.0% 13.5% 18.9%
60 + 10.0% 8.6% 6.0%

 

As surveys have shown in the past, the education level of ITAM respondents remains dominated by those with some college education or with a college degree.  However, advanced education beyond college is growing over time.

 

Question:  What is your highest level of education achieved?
Highest Level of Education Achieved 2014 2016 2017
Some high school 0.0% 0.8% 0.4%
High school graduate 8.0% 5.9% 6.8%
Some college 28.0% 26.0% 21.3%
Bachelor’s degree 45.0% 40.4% 40.2%
Some graduate school 6.0% 6.2% 10.0%
Master’s degree 13.0% 19.8% 20.9%
Doctoral degree 0.0% 0.8% 0.4%

 

For some insight into career trajectories, a survey question asked what department the respondents worked in prior to ITAM.  Just slightly more than half of the respondents previously worked in some capacity as part of the IT department.  A sizeable minority (15.1%, up from almost 11% in 2016) came from procurement or finance.  At 11.2%, a helpdesk or services support background is the only other significant percentage.  Previously, those respondents with helpdesk/services experience immediately prior to ITAM were just under 10%.  Other than this slight increase, results are consistent with IAITAM’s previous surveys.

Additional qualifications held by ITAM professionals include the following certifications:

 

Question:  What ITAM certifications do you hold? Select all that apply.
Answer Options 2017 Response
CSAM 55.6%
ITIL 51.2%
CHAMP 36.7%
CITAM 26.1%
Six Sigma 11.6%
CAMP 10.1%
CMAM 7.7%
Procurement 7.7%
CITAD 6.8%
Security (other) 2.4%
CAML-Sec 1.9%
MSITAM 1.5%

 

In the modern age of frequent job changes, ITAM professionals seem to beat the odds.  Longevity with an organization remains a characteristic of these practitioners:

 

Question:  How long have you been with your current organization?
Answer Options 2014 2016 2017
Less than 1 year 6.0% 9.9% 7.94%
1-2 years 10.0% 12.1% 11.90%
2-4 years 24.0% 18.1% 17.86%
5-7 years 9.0% 12.7% 13.89%
8-10 years 7.0% 9.0% 11.11%
10+ years 44.0% 38.1% 37.30%

 

Roles Performed

The specific ITAM roles held by an individual can be anything from a single process role to a unique combination of roles.  Some decisions are based on organizational strengths, weaknesses and politics.  Other choices are dictated by the size of the organization as well as having a global scope since the number of offices, countries and divisions impact ITAM.  The decision for staffing the roles is also influenced by the maturity of the ITAM program and how broadly the assets and processes are in the hands of the ITAM professionals.  With this complexity, standards for staffing and structure are organizationally-specific rather than a best practice.

To gain some understanding of the roles that the respondents have, respondents were asked last year and this year to check yes if they held any role that is part of the processes for Software Asset Management, Hardware Asset Management or Mobile Asset Management.

 

Question: How many of the following roles describe responsibilities that you have?  Select all that apply:
Answer Options 2016 Response 2017 Response
Software asset management 80.7% 87.70%
Hardware asset management 71.1% 71.83%
Mobile asset management 34.2% 35.71%
Other (please specify) 17.7% 18.25%

 

The results are representative of what could be expected for these roles, but the high rate of “other” suggests that another approach such as by a broader list of “assets” might be more revealing.

Another way to describe the roles in which the respondents are involved is to use the important documents during the life of the asset as commonly understood touchpoints.  Such a list requires updating on a regular basis to remain relevant so that each year the results include new requirements.  These results offer a satisfying look into the details of what is being done at a practical level.

 

Question:  Select all of the documents and activities from the list below that are part of your responsibilities:  
Documents and Activities 2017 Response
Inventory tracking and management 88.9%
Audit response 76.2%
Policies 73.0%
ITAM repository as source of truth for decision making 65.9%
Asset standards 64.3%
Contracts 59.9%
Measurement/verification 59.9%
Presentations/other communications to develop executive buy-in 56.0%
End of life, Certificate of Disposition 55.2%
Purchasing 50.0%
Receiving 46.8%
Invoice 45.6%
Project plans 42.5%
IT Service Management 40.1%
RFP/RFB/RFQ 39.3%
Install/configure incident 21.4%
Disaster recovery 14.7%  

 

Moving Forward

Whether contemplating a long term career in ITAM or simply planning out the tasks for the coming year and beyond, the survey results are a source of relevant feedback.  The IT Asset Management profession relies on a strategic roadmap, but one that has to be flexible to reflect changes in direction based on technology, industry changes and the economy.

Salary

Each year, respondents provide their salaries so that the aggregate values can inform other ITAM professionals about the range of remuneration currently being offered.  Since IAITAM has been asked the question for years, the view over time is also interesting in its consistency. The table below offers a comparison of respondent salaries since 2012.

 

Question:  What is your annual salary range?
 USD 2012 2014 2016 2017
Less than $50,000 8.0% 4.2% 9.7% 9.2%
$50,000 – $74,999 26.1% 23.2% 31.9% 23.7%
$75,000 – $99,999 36.4% 37.9% 26.0% 25.3%
$100,000 – $149,999 23.9% 27.4% 26.5% 33.7%
$150,000 – $199,999 3.4% 6.3% 4.4% 5.6%
$200,000+ 2.3% 1.1% 1.5% 2.4%

 

Goals for Next Year

What are IT Asset Management professionals working on in the coming year and beyond?  The survey presented the respondents with a series of possible goals updated to include current goals and feedback provided by last year’s survey takers.  The goals below are presented in order by percentage of the number of respondents who selected that goal as among their top goals for the coming year.  The last column with asterisks identifies the goals that were the top goals from the previous year.

 

Question:  What are the top ITAM program goals for 2017 and beyond? Select all that apply.  
Goals (arranged by percentage) 2017 Percent 2016 Top Goals  
Improve software license compliance 74.0% *  
Increased inventory accuracy/control 69.0% *  
Improving processes within ITAM area of responsibility 64.5% *  
Improving coordination between departments, end users and others that impact the asset lifecycle 55.8% *  
Budget management/uncovering savings 53.3% *  
Achieve financial goals such as finding savings 47.9%    
ITAM automation installs/upgrades/improvements 47.5%    
Expand the software titles proactively managed 45.9% *  
Increase employee awareness and cooperation 45.9% *  
Manage more assets 42.6%    
Increase/maintain management awareness or buy-in 42.6% *  
Align with organizational goals 42.2%    
Contribute to compliance/governance beyond software 39.7% *  
Manage cloud applications 39.3%    
Support IT service management 38.4% *  
ITAM’s integration with systems 37.6%    
Improve end-of-life processes 36.8% *  
Improve Vendor Management 31.4%    
ITAM in the Data Center 27.7%    
Increase information security tasks 26.9%    
Improve management of mobile devices 22.7%    

Conclusion

As in years past, the results of the survey point to growth in acceptance, but perhaps at a slower rate that might be hoped.  However, even during difficult economic times, the profession and the ITAM program have grown in importance and perceived value.  From the documents that the respondents work with, the goals that they identify and the salaries that they earn, it is clear that the importance of an accurate inventory throughout the lifecycle remains a priority for organizations.  ITAM is integral to other frameworks such as IT service management as well as contributing to the procurement, financial management and security of an entire portfolio of technology assets.

It is hoped that the results of this survey will encourage ITAM professionals to expand their vision for ITAM beyond current limitations, moving the program forward in response to the organization’s goals and perhaps to be influenced by the goals that others have identified.   Certainly, the success represented here (as well as shared woes) provides external feedback for those immersed in delivering IT Asset Management processes.

 

About IAITAM

The International Association of IT Asset Managers (IAITAM) is the largest organization providing education, certification and thought leadership to the management of IT as a business. IT Asset Management is the management of hardware, software, mobile and other technology to maximize the value to the organization.