This blog was originally published by Fruition Partners. Since then, Fruition Partners has become the ServiceNow practice within DXC Technology.

Many organisations embarking on a programme of refreshing their ITSM provision (or even just starting out on the path to ITIL) seem to pay scant regard to the role that IT Asset Management plays (ITAM). In the cosy world of ITIL, Asset Management is the poor cousin, hardly referred to in the ITIL books and downplayed in the excitement surrounding most SACM and CMDB engagements.

Too often, the ITSM project trumpets the value of the CMDB (and rightly so) but misses the ITAM point.

The fact is that implementing a CMDB while putting off Asset Management is doing a job half-cocked, a bit like painting your walls that lovely magnolia colour you’ve always dreamed of without actually plastering them properly first. You’ll eventually have to plaster those walls so why not do this first?

What’s often overlooked is that the value that ITAM brings can actually be significantly more tangible than that delivered by Configuration Management, with its nebulous focus on relationships and service impacts (… how do you really quantify the value of a CMDB in concrete terms?)

Against that the value of ITAM is clear…a good ITAM implementation can save money by better inventory management (“just-in-time”, anyone?), tighter control on software costs (not to mention compliancy) and increased efficiency in procuring and delivering the assets that the business relies on.

So instead of putting Asset Management into “a future phase”, why not combine your CMDB and Asset Management implementation into a single project? Too often organisations will implement Configuration Management in the early stages of their ITIL implementation in the belief that it will support Incident, Problem, Change and Request Fulfilment (and of course it will) but do not consider the basics of how they will manage the updates to the CMDB. Its case of just getting it in there and hoping that it will somehow manage itself (or worse that having a Discovery tool will somehow magically keep everything up-to-date).

  • What about the lifecycle of the assets that make up the crucial building blocks of the infrastructure, how is this lifecycle managed in a way that supports the CMDB?
  • How is the manual update of asset information reconciled with Configuration Items in your CMDB, which may be updated automatically by network discovery tools?
  • How is asset and CI data stored in your CMDB and asset databases in the most efficient manner possible, avoiding duplication and discrepancies between the ITAM and CMDB views of infrastructure items?
  • How is asset and CI information presented to consumers of this data (from IT to financial planners)?
  • How is the relationship of users to assets maintained?

The answers to these questions requires consideration of the roles and overlaps between Configuration Management and IT Asset Management and the best time to consider these questions is when you are planning your Configuration Management project NOT at some undefined point in the future when you think you have your CMDB under control. Your CMDB will never be under control until the requirements of ITAM are also understood and catered for.

Configuration Management and ITAM exist in a symbiotic relationship which requires a degree of data sharing and process integration so it is best to take the bull by the horns and think of these in the context of a single implementation which considers the IT asset lifecycle as a fundamental part of the holistic delivery of Service Asset and Configuration Management. Planning a systematic approach to procuring, ordering, receiving, commissioning and retiring assets will future-proof your Configuration Management implementation, and ensure you are building the most efficient eco-system that will support your delivery of improved IT service management.

Get your ITAM working well and you can sit back and admire those magnolia walls, safe in the knowledge that you can put off the re-painting them for another couple of years!