A company that Forbes calls “the most innovative SaaS vendor on the planet” does IT service management (ITSM). Just let that sink in for a moment. Then consider that this company has over 800 accounts with $1 million in net annual contract value (ACV), representing 32% year-on-year growth. As of last quarter, it does business with 75% of the Fortune 500. ServiceNow’s surge coincides with an intense period of digital disruption as ITAM departments sit up and take notice.
One industry voice shares how the “cloud wars” are driving stunning levels of change and modernization agendas inside big and small enterprises. But the operational mandates of security, efficiency, productivity, management and employee experience surrounding these change initiatives create new challenges. And they are stretching companies’ existing ITSM and ITAM capabilities.
But first, an ITSM and ITAM primer.
These capabilities are essential for effective IT support. While they are related, and are complementary functions in digital transformation objective setting, they are distinct. Understanding each allows appropriate application and consideration for improvement of the other.
According to The International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers (IAITAM), ITAM is a set of business practices that incorporate IT assets across the business units of an organization. This means that ITAM joins the financial, inventory, contractual and risk/control responsibilities of an enterprise. As a result, it is possible to build life cycle management for these assets, which includes tactical and strategic decision making.
ivanti, an IT software and services firm, suggests that effective ITAM allows up-to-date inventory reporting, which supports informed IT decision making, like purchasing or creating standards for control and compliance. In essence, ITAM guides a comprehensive understanding of the hardware and software landscape. One common application being that when a corporate laptop is disposed of, associated software licenses are properly harvested for later use.
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ITAM - Key Processes
IAITAM identifies the following key processes as part of a holistic ITAM program:
- Acquisition Management
- Asset Identification
- Communication and Education
- Compliance Management
- Disposal Management
- Documentation Management
- Financial Management
- Legislation Management
- Policy Management
- Program Management
- Project Management
- Vendor Management
Notably, as the role of cloud assets grows, an important ITAM sub-discipline has formed: Software Asset Management (SAM).
In a white paper titled An Introduction to Software Asset Management, The ITAM Review outlined one of the key roles owned by emerging SAM teams:
[The team supports] new software licenses that need to be added, and the usage of existing applications [that need] to be monitored to ensure they are being used effectively.
[...] The overall responsibilities of software asset management are to ensure the correct management of software assets (including software licenses) throughout their lifecycle.
SAM is responsible for software from the minute it is requested, through procurement, deployment, recycling and finally retirement. Along with the software itself, SAM is also responsible for the license that comes with it, ensuring all users are using the software within the product use rights and also ensuring that the organisation maintains compliancy.
SAM personnel know the overarching goal of the function is to maximize the value and ROI of the software assets, while mitigating any legal risks associated with the software’s use.
According to CIO Magazine, ITSM is a set of policies, processes and procedures for managing the implementation, improvement and support of customer-oriented IT services. Basically, enterprises that deploy IT assets need support services to ensure their usefulness by minimizing interruptions, improving employee productivity and relationships and reducing service costs.
For example, one of the most visible ITSM functions is the service desk. Enabling a single point of contact for IT’s “customers” (that is, business users) streamlines communication and issue resolution around incident tickets and purchasing or service requests. Notable ITSM tools include: ServiceNow, Atlassian Jira Service Desk and Zendesk.
ITSM is fundamentally how IT teams manage the delivery of IT services to customers. But to do this, companies need a methodology, or process, to execute around. IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is one popular framework for this. It offers a set of guiding principles that IT leaders can choose based on their business goals to assist in IT service delivery.
ITIL features a variety of operational steps within core service areas, including: service strategy, service design, service transition, service operation and continual service improvement. Other frameworks include: FitSM, ISO/IEC 20000, Six Sigma and Microsoft Operations Framework.
The problem with most ITAM plans
Most well meaning ITAM plans have a weak point. A place where asset management effectiveness is prone to fail. For many companies it is in software inventory visibility.
KPMG finds software management critical to ensuring that licenses are effectively managed, cost blowouts are controlled and privacy and cyber vulnerabilities are mitigated.
A key starting point? Building a baseline view of an enterprise’s owned licenses, usage and spend.
Once this discovery step is taken, an IT leader can bring value as a business partner internally – assisting with cost optimization, consolidating the use of redundant or competing SaaS tools, and improving on-boarding and off-boarding efficiency for business managers.
This ITAM proficiency feeds ITSM effectiveness. As often heard from IT leaders in in our client engagements: we can’t service, when we don’t know.
Cleanshelf keeps IT’s eyes on the (SaaS management) prize
Maturing a SAM framework demands SaaS visibility. With Cleanshelf, IT leaders can at last build critical levels of monitoring capability. This means no more Excel spreadsheets or static database management of software licenses, costs, assignments and renewal schedules.
Moreover, IT can then get to work on operating model steps that make a real difference. With data and ownership visibility, Cleanshelf cleans up the software asset lifecycle management process. Vendor contracts are signed with financial and growth roadmaps in mind. And timely financial management and reporting to budget owners (especially around year-end planning!) becomes part of IT’s value add to the business.
At Cleanshelf, we help startups and Fortune 1000 enterprises on the journey toward effective SAM implementation. In short time, customers understand their IT assets and SaaS deployments, and are armed with reportable insights like:
- Number of services
- Anticipated monthly/annual spend
- Utilization by department
- Top services by spend
- License usage
- Monthly active members
- Renewal timelines
Establishing that ‘source of truth’ for SaaS licenses is step one to better manage compliance risk, reduce unnecessary costs and mitigate productivity loss. Of course, a robust operating model around ITAM and ITSM is essential too. This is because an overarching model guides IT’s approach, clarifies roles and responsibilities. It also establishes parameters around what service benefits the IT organization provides.
However, given the outsized role of software in modern organizations, no model can run without data, visibility and insight. These are the currencies of today’s fast-paced business environments – and they are what Cleanshelf helps unlock. Only when ITAM efforts are fully implemented, with SaaS taking centre-stage, can a company's ITSM efforts really lift off.
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Cleanshelf is the leading enterprise SaaS management platform focused on tracking, controlling, and benchmarking SaaS applications. Their SOC 2-compliant and AI-powered technology helps companies save up to 30% on their SaaS spending by automatically identifying unmanaged contracts, duplicate licenses, and wasted cloud software subscriptions. Based in San Francisco, Cleanshelf provides an enterprise-grade solution to over a hundred clients, including Hilton, Looker, and CoStar Group.