By Mark McGinn / September 27, 2019

Mark McGinn reports on the recent itSMF UK SMtech Forum on Asset Management.

MarXtar were privileged to sponsor and host itSMF and their SMtech forum on Asset Management at The Good Hotel in London on 24th September.

These one-day, free events from itSMF are a great way of learning more about approaches to the issues that matter to your company. Previous events have covered Artificial Intelligence, Service Management Solutions and the third in the SMTech series focussed on Asset Management.

The event was a team effort, including invaluable contributions from Rory Canavan from SAM Charter and Claire Burn, Head of IT Asset Management at HM Revenue & Custom. My presentation wasn’t too bad either, even if I do say so myself!

With a great group of delegates from a variety of industries and both members and non- members of itSMF, we discussed a broad range of topics. Some of the themes that really stood out for me are outlined below:

  1. Ensure your software request process is structured

Rory Canavan from SAM Charter gave a great explanation of SAM challenges, including the Bermuda Triangle of SAM and how the splitting of the process can cause issues.

He emphasised the fact every company should ensure their process starts with the software request and then move through procurement and finally on to management. In some companies procurement and management are contacted at the same time and the work gets lost between the initiator and the two destinations, hence the Bermuda Triangle. With a strong process and the ability to tag your software, assets that are wasted or even lost can be streamlined.

Service request processes and audited approval processes are essential. Often key requests or responses get lost in the manager’s inbox and the delay can significantly impact the ability to meet SLAs. SAM often feels like the department that likes to say “no”, so streamlining processes to minimise perceived barriers can be an important and often overlooked aspect.

  1. Break down the silos

This was my golden nugget of information, though all three speakers independently focussed on the downsides of silo mentality and our own experiences of this. It is essential for each department to sit down together and maximise the assets they have and the data they possess. There are a number of ways to approach this problem, including extending access to the service desk and asset management system to other departments, ensuring reliable data collection and delivery via automation and leveraging solutions such as MarXtar’s State Management and Enterprise Notifier for the real time/historical asset knowledge and audited closed loop notifications/approvals. With automation, once you have defined the standards you can automate monotonous repetitive tasks which will free up your employees’ time (whatever their department) and could even give you a competitive edge.

Good communication is also key, and Enterprise Notifier can help achieve this. With a closed loop notification system, you can target messaging to the relevant people and create actionable requests. Cutting down response times, alerting relevant people and ensuring good communication are all part of a continuous flow.

  1. Data – whether current or historical, whatever quantity, it’s a resource. How do you use it?

Every organisation has a mountain of data that can be utilised, but this is often hoarded by individual departments. The problem of underestimating the volume of data when approaching a large project is something that Claire Burns highlighted in her presentation, and she also shared the fun a company can have when discovering a previously unknown source of assets.

Historical data can be incredibly useful to establish your position. That’s where I was coming from when I chose the title for my presentation, “To plan for our future, we need the knowledge of our present, given context by our past.”

We shouldn’t be making decisions in a vacuum or ignoring how we got to where we are from an asset perspective. Know your data and you can make great use of it in advancing your business.

  1. Use specialists and partners

Most organisations can’t do this work alone, and that is no slight on anyone. It’s the acceptance of this that will move you forward. Rory was clear on the importance he places on recognising that SAM is not a single skill as there are also technology experts, licensing experts and contract experts.

I made a big point of highlighting that SAM is not something you give to the team junior just because no-one else wants the job!  Perhaps they’ll do a great job eventually, but knowledge, experience and respect take a long time to acquire and your SAM specialists need to be listened to when they tell you that licensing rules mean you aren’t allowed to do things the way you want.

  1. Don’t eat the elephant

Looking at the whole is overwhelming, try and gain some quick wins, making sure all departments are included and, as Claire said, “Aspire to be proactive!”. Understand the ‘as is’ working processes. Look at bite-sized projects that can be achieved and make your start from there, but always try to ensure that these are looking to the future and are logical steps toward a goal rather than quick fixes that may have negative impacts in the longer term. Maybe you could automate the most common onboarding processes, maybe you work on verifying the licensing position for a key vendor; if the bite-sized chunks are moving towards the end goal and are not just a campaign that stands alone, then you’ll avoid having to do all of the heavy lifting the next time around.

In summary I feel the SMtech Asset Management event was a great success. It was a pleasure to be in the company of such interesting people and hope that the day was as beneficial to them as it was to us. Thank you to itSMF for asking us to sponsor the event; there was a positive vibe in the room and we look forward to our next opportunity to support one.

To register for the next itSMF UK SMtech forum on Service Management in the Cloud, please visit the registration page. Or join us at ITSM19, itSMF UK’s Annual Conference in November where MarXtar will be exhibiting.

About the Author

Mark McGinn is Managing Director of MarXtar Ltd, an international business with over 25 years’ experience of delivering IT systems and service management solutions. MarXtar’s flagship product Enterprise Notifier delivers targeted, auditable, and actionable communications to desktops and mobile devices via the ENgage! mobile app. Learn more about MarXtar.

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