ITAM – Organization, People, Roles & Accountabilities

At this year’s Spring Annual Conference and Exhibition (ACE), several IAITAM Fellows attended a selection of presentations, to provide an expert perspective on chosen themes, specifically:

  • ITAM –Views from Practitioners
  • ITAM – Organization, People, Roles & Accountabilities

It is remarkable that, although there are multiple complexities to ITAM, there are many common themes that are not only interrelated but timely for practitioners and the industry.  As IAITAM Fellows we found this to be true in listening to the presentations and preparing the above-referenced articles.

Some common themes were:

  •  Gaining Executive “buy in” continues to be a critical success factor – across the organization, not only IT.
  • Alignment with business requirements and goals is the new “selling point” for ITAM’s value proposition.
  • Increased focus on “governance with facilitation” is part of the most progressive and mature programs.
  • Awareness of a program’s maturity status and goals is a definite requirement in the ITAM space.
  • Marginalization of ITAM tools as the “silver bullet”, as ITAM programs focus more on business aspects such as strategy, governance, policies, and roles and accountabilities.
  • A significant concentration on accurate and normalized data is now a common ITAM best practice.

Theme and why chosen: The theme ITAM – Organization, People, Roles & Accountabilities was chosen in recognition of the criticality of people to ITAM success, not only within the ITAM function itself, but across organizational functions (as aligned with the IT asset lifecycle) and on which ITAM has a dependency or impact; additionally, external parties such as outsourcers or system integrators. Another consideration is that organizations too often focus on the people aspect of ITAM for the wrong reasons; in particular, the ‘cost’ of that investment and, sometimes, internal politics.

Invariably, at the outset of an ITAM engagement (or before), I am asked “How many people are needed for ITAM?” First, there is no standard answer – staffing depends on many variables specific to the organization: culture, ITAM maturity; number, type and location of IT assets; amount and nature of spend; number of contracts, licenses and vendors; level of automation; and more. Second, people are perhaps the most critical component of your ITAM program; the right number of people at the right time with the appropriate knowledge, skills, experience, accountabilities and authority; and, located in the right place in the organization for necessary empowerment. A successful ITAM program does not compromise in number, education, training or placement of appropriate people in the organization.

Sessions and Speakers: With our appreciation for their insights and contribution!

Running a Software Asset Management Program: Goals, Focus, Workstreams, Benefits, and PitfallsJessica Allen, Director, Technology Advisory, BDO
What’s Next: Attaining IT Asset Management Maturity in Your OrganizationPatricia Adams, IT Asset Management Evangelist, LANDESK Software
The Art of Discussion and the Logistical ITAM RoadmapLeslie June, Strategic Business Process Consultant, Linium
Leadership: The Foundation to Building an Effective IT Asset Management organization Mari Hern, Global Head of IT Asset Management, AIG


General Impressions of the presentations: All presentations clearly identified the need for and value from ITAM, as generally well understood and consistent across most organizations today: risk mitigation, including as to license compliance and, more recently, cybersecurity; cost reduction and avoidance; and, value maximization (optimization). Speakers also recommended the use of a maturity model to assess current practices and identify targets for improved practices (characterized respectively by one speaker as ‘the wild west’ and ‘utopia’). Another speaker introduced the alternate term ‘attainment’ model “because attainment involves making a choice about what works best for an organization by setting a goal that is achievable. Maturity implies that they aren’t doing things as effectively as they could be and therefore need to evolve to be more effective. By suggesting goals on the attainment, our objective is provide guidance that an organization can target as part of the progression of their ITAM/SAM program”.

Other impressions included:

  • Considerable commonality in ITAM objectives (‘why’) and approach (“how”), indicative of ITAM awareness and maturity within the industry.
  • Governance has become increasingly important in an ITAM program, consistent with greater recognition of ITAM as a cross-organizational business function; and, where certain operational and technical responsibilities may be decentralized, but require a common framework and oversight. Governance ensures adherence, tracking, and active risk mitigation across the IT asset lifecycle (and associated functions), with buy-in and support from all levels of leadership.
  • An improved recognition of both the differences and interdependencies between ITAM and IT service management (ITSM); specifically, that ITAM is necessary for but is not a subset of ITSM.
  • High levels of maturity come at a cost, with potentially diminishing returns; in other words, ITAM practices don’t necessarily need to be ‘best’, just ‘good enough’. (See quote, above, re: attainment versus maturity.)

Relevance of presentations to theme and the industry: In varying degrees, the presentations emphasized the role of people in support of an ITAM program; not only within the ITAM function itself, but across organizational functions (as aligned with the IT asset lifecycle) and on which ITAM has a dependency or impact. As one speaker posited, “ITAM owns the asset life and data; not all lifecycle processes”, necessitating and consistent with the increasing importance of ITAM governance, as noted above. As a result, ITAM needs to align with other IT and business strategies and issues for all CxOs, not just IT. However, as noted by another speaker, “ITAM should anticipate and prepare management for resistance from vested functions (e.g., procurement)”, recognizing that ITAM may impact and may have requirements of those functions. To mitigate that resistance and facilitate support, recognize that ITAM can provide value to these other functions, asking or letting them know how ITAM can help them.

Speakers also emphasized the criticality of executive management support to ITAM success; specifically, a C-level owner and an advisory council compromised of leaders from stakeholder functions (very effective in my experience). Additionally, ITAM champions “who will advocate for you and give you the lay of the land”; people who manage the money, risks and assets – e.g., CFO, CSO.

Finally, greater recognition of ITAM as a business function not only affects ITAM’s cross-organizational role, but also the skills and experience required by ITAM staff: less technical, more financial and legal acumen; also, the ability to effectively communicate with and influence others in the organization. As to career opportunities, one speaker noted that ITAM experience can take anyone anywhere they want to go in the organization.

Information gained: In addition to the observations above, I note:

  • Software asset management (SAM) continues to be largely event driven, primarily in response to license compliance audits; hence a focus on software license compliance (SLC) versus software license management (SLM) and, more broadly, software asset management (SAM).
  • A continued focus on technology as the ‘silver bullet’; but, seemingly reduced, perhaps due to greater recognition of ITAM as a business discipline.
  • The importance of a communications plan, as part of the ITAM project and ongoing program.
  • The need for a coordinated, integrated view of hardware and software assets; the two functions should not be separated.
  • The important role of automation in ITAM: More complete, accurate and timely data; also, to improve efficiency –freeing people from low-value, repetitive tasks.
  • Wisdom (knowledge) and credibility are provided through (complete, accurate and timely) data.


Sherry Irwin

President and Principal Consultant: CSAM, CHAMP, CSM, ASM, CTPS, Verafirm Professional

Technology Asset Management Inc.

Founder (1992) and Chair, Canadian IT Asset Management Users’ Group (CITAMUG)Fellow Logo


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