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The Ideal IT Asset Manager

I attended a funeral recently for a friend of mine. This friend grew from a customer and business colleague (with an awesome perspective) to a person that drove many collective adventures with me. Adventures that were primarily business focused; although sometimes they did include socializing at conferences, attending minor league baseball games, and/or taking a day off for bourbon tours in southeastern Tennessee.

The person I reference is not childhood friend, nor did we work for the same company. This individual was an IT Asset Manager. One who understood his role, supported it, and supported his team. The large financial company he worked for struggled to embrace IT asset management, and the value it provides, like many organizations today. Several challenges to move projects forward occurred; however, we always found a way to make it happen. Sometimes we were quite creative while always focused on the success of the ITAM program. And when we succeeded, we included all parties involved with the outcome (e.g. coworkers, team members, vendors, etc.) to the celebratory activities.

What did I learn from this relationship?

How an ideal IT Asset Manager should be. Fun loving, creative, supportive, and always thinking outside of the box while always focused to complete the task at hand with the collective team.

The reason for this unusual, and very timely, article is that I see many IT Asset Managers today struggling. Struggling to be objective, think strategically, be empathetic, and work collaboratively with others. Professional challenges that often result in one becoming overwhelmed and frustrated to the point of work overload, burnout, and initiating the process to seek a role where they can be more successful.

Why do I offer to help on such an awkward topic?

Little did I know that when starting in IT Asset Management (technically Software Asset Management) in 1995 I would continue in this space. Crazy? Yes, that word has been mentioned to me more than once. However, technology has always been a passion of mine. It comes rather intuitively as do the skills required to manage it; and this is not the case for everyone in this focus area. ITAM continues to evolve and grow as organizations identify the need to better manage devices and software within their enterprise; even in today’s virtual and cloud(y) world.

Similarly, my passion to help the fellow ITAM practitioners individually has grown as well. To help them be successful in overcoming the challenges that cross their path daily. To enable them to be self-sufficient to help drive, and own, the next steps within their ITAM program. And those practitioners that I have assisted to date – those with the “real” passion – they continue to enthusiastically manage, provide, oversee, deploy, and embrace the asset portfolio they manage. …some have done this for over 20 years now.

Unfortunately, most organizations today continue to see IT Asset Management as a back room operation that technology should address, not people. …and they couldn’t be more wrong. ITAM is more than reading a book, performing spreadsheet outputs, calculating compliance positions, creating automated scripts, making a PowerPoint charts, and/or reading industry articles. The crux of the role (~80% of it) is about working with people. Identifying stakeholders to make the program successful; and provide ITAM outputs/processes to assist stakeholders too. IT Asset Management requires a collaborative and constructive 2-way communication between all parties; including being respectful of all parties and being culturally diverse. …not as easy in today’s technological and globally diverse world.

What can assist an IT Asset Manager be more successful?

Soft skills. Two words that are regularly discussed in the corporate world while barely mentioned within most job descriptions; including that for an IT Asset Manager. And then comes the personal interview; the topic is typically overlooked. Employment offer is made, IT Asset Manager starts, tensions with co-workers/stakeholders start early and often, and no progress is achieved with the ITAM program. Why is this? The stakeholders, and sometimes their own team too, do not wanting to work with the IT Asset Manager. The IT Asset Manager’s demeanor and lack of respect (amongst several other words that I will leave to your own accord) are in play. Result: a weak working relationship and the IT Asset Manager is an individual one should to avoid.

Then the management review/escalation occurs. The IT Asset Manager is assigned a 60-to-90 minute online learning program, with no additional coaching, to address the topic at the moment. And this cycle continues until the ITAM team is dismantled or the ITAM Manager is released from their duties. …all because of the skills critical to their success, soft skills, are not understood and embraced by the individual. Skills overlooked in today’s overworked and tension based world we live in.

To help an IT Asset Manager grow their soft skills, below are my top 15 to focus on. (I tried to whittle them down to 10 and failed) Each skill partakes within the role of the IT Asset Manager, and the program itself, to ensure ongoing collaboration with those involved with the program.

• Be a team player
• Be collaborative
• Be empathetic and understanding
• Flexibility and adaptability
• Good communication skills
• Listen more than talk
• Obtain learn from feedback
• Patience to trust the process
• Positive attitude
• Problem solving skills
• Self-confidence
• Socialize your message
• Strong work ethic
• Think “outside the box”
• Time management abilities
• Working well under pressure

The IT Asset Manager must do their best with the resources provided (people, process, technology, data, governance). And realize that the expected project outcomes may drive unexpected results; sometimes defining that next set of ITAM tasks/activities to occur.
Continual improvement is always the focus of the program that includes improving one-self. An individual focus that should never be short changed.

Soft skills are needed to develop into a great IT Asset Manager. These skills have little focus within the training and books available today on IT Asset Management; skills critical to the success of the program. Don’t be the IT Asset Manager that is silo driven and no one wants to work with. Be that IT Asset Manager who is collaborative, team focused, fun driven, and enjoys their role 20+ years later.

About Bill Talbot

Bill Talbot is the ITAM/SAM Evangelist for Aspera Technologies