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Advocacy

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
– Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Time and time again, ITAM programs fail to reach their full potential. Their failures are almost 100% due to lackluster or lack thereof communications and education. Desperately in need of a spokesperson, these programs are bogged down with pressures to save year over year and create more efficient processes while managing the daily ins and outs of software licensing and hardware configuration changes. It is with little to no surprise that ITAM managers and potential spokespeople spend most days putting out fires. ITAM managers, despite the necessity have minimal spare time to compile communication strategies, reports and statuses. The success or failure of an Asset Management program hinges on being able to educate its changes, saves and program wins within the organization. A CIO article highlighted this success vs. failure dilemma by stating, “Effective executive sponsorship is essential, because this effort requires process changes and internal education.” (2) The operative words here being “internal education.” To maintain sponsorship means maintaining awareness and understanding. You can achieve this by becoming an advocate for your program and customers.

An Advocate is more than just a communicator, they are a champion who sets goals, creates a strategy, communicates clearly and organizes an organization by building a robust ITAM program and enforcing its policies and processes.(2) Advocacy is the fun “lawyer” word meaning the act of pleading for or arguing in favor of something or actively supporting a cause or proposal.(3) For lawyers, advocacy means representing the interest of the client in the best manner possible. This translates all too well into the world of an Asset Manager. Taking the position of an advocate means representing the interests of the program and ensuring ITAM best practices are married with customer and organizational needs. They provide support and guidance to decision makers and patrons. Lastly, an advocate for an ITAM program is an interdepartmental mediator and liaison providing technical, compliance, financial and sometimes legal advice.

To become the glue that holds the various affected parties together, you need to develop your advocacy skills. All the while being mindful of when and where you are called to do so for the customer, program, organization or a combination thereof. To kick start your training, here are three simple tips that will launch your advocacy skills and push your ITAM program to the forefront of your Sponsors minds:

1. Listen – First and foremost, to be an advocate you need to be able to listen. Listen to your customers, management and your organization. Most importantly, listen to yourself. You are the experienced gate keeper of ITAM best practices. Use that knowledge to standardize processes and develop solutions that align with best practices as well as customer and organizational needs. Even seemingly inconsequential daily conversations have merit. If you want to get approval for a new process, policy or application, then making the customer feel valued will go a long way towards building a well-recognized program. To be a good listener, pay attention to the person speaking (kind of obvious…but much harder in practice), keep eye contact, show interest by nodding or smiling (appropriately…), and reinforce understanding by repeating back, in your own words, what was said.

2. Advertise! – You must start thinking of your ITAM program as a small business that needs to gain recognition and demonstrate how it brings value to company/client/customer. Use your resources! Internal webpages, newsletters, email, requesting forums, tv monitors and fliers are several examples. If contacted by a coworker regarding a potential new application, perhaps email would be best. If instituting an organization wide 90 recycle/reharvest program for software applications, a multimodal approach would likely be most effective. Instituting monthly or weekly reporting updates to various groups is another way to advertise and be present. Each situation that you are called to be an ITAM advocate for is different, so stop and think about your message content and the most effective way to deliver that message. Advertising for your program shapes and builds a positive mentality. If something does go awry, the negative impact to your program’s goals or sponsorship will be minimized. Remember, people don’t know, what they don’t know. It’s a bit cheeky, but true, you need to advertise all the good you’re doing such as improving the bottom line, risk avoidance and process improvement.

3. Collaborate – To be a successful advocate for your program, you need to foster collaboration between various individuals and departments. With doing so, this alliance should bring about policy changes that would have otherwise been impossible. (2) To foster teamwork, you must take your audience’s needs and any potential roadblocks into consideration and provide a common goal. This goal needs to be clearly and consistently communicated every time the ITAM team is engaged. It will help maintain alignment on the path towards achieving your program goals.

Becoming an advocate will not happen overnight, practice makes perfect. You must be aware if your advocacy skills are being called into action. Bridge communication gaps and misunderstandings by listening to your organization’s needs, pain points and visions of success. Foster partnership by advertising and sharing your program’s goals. Developing your advocacy skills will be worth every ounce of effort. Your ITAM program, its participants and sponsors will thank you. Now you are armed with the know how to help you listen, advertise and collaborate despite what ITAM matter is burning in front of you! Go and become an advocate for your ITAM program and make it a success.

References:
(1) www.cio.com/article/3077893/best-practices-in-hardware-asset-management.html
(2) www.votility.com/blog/bid/321743/8-Steps-to-Successful-Grassroots-Advocacy-Campaigns
(3) definitions.uslegal.com/a/advocacy/

About Jennah Michalik

Jennah Mihalik works as counsel and software asset manager for Quadrant Law Group.