IT Service Management: Why and Where ITSM Needs ITAM
The IT management capabilities of IT service management (ITSM) and IT asset management (ITAM) have long been treated as two separate disciplines, with ITSM and ITAM professionals perhaps living in two different “worlds.” It has been a strange situation for at least two decades, with one group looking after IT services and the other IT assets, leveraging best practices from diverse sources, and using different tools.
There were overlaps – for example, in the provisioning of new software where ITSM personnel check ITAM data for the requester’s currently installed software (for known conflicts) and license availability. But they have often been seen as two separate IT management “islands.” That is until the AXELOS-created ITIL 4 body of service management best practice guidance finally brought ITAM into the ITSM fold. It’s unsurprising because many ITSM capabilities benefit from ITAM and vice versa.
This blog looks at the need for greater ITSM and ITAM integration (not just in technology terms), starting with the inclusion of ITAM in ITIL 4.
ITIL 4 and ITAM
If you’re new to ITIL 4, the body of service management best practice guidance now has 34 management practices (rather than the 26 processes of ITIL v3), and one of them is ITAM.
However, ITIL 4 doesn’t share new ITAM best practices. Instead, it makes the existing ITAM best practices more accessible for ITSM pros. For example, ITIL 4 defines ITAM’s purpose as:
“…to plan and manage the full lifecycle of all IT assets, to help the organization:
- maximize value
- control costs
- manage risks
- support decision-making about the purchase, re-use, retirement, and disposal of IT assets
- meet regulatory and contractual requirements.”
AXELOS also offered up the ITSM professional view of ITAM in its 2022 ITSM Benchmarking Report as follows:
Don’t worry. The “needs improving” percentage was consistently high across all ITSM practices, even incident management.
However, the level of ITAM adoption places it highly, relative to the common ITSM practices, in fifth place (when service desk, incident management, and service request management are bundled together).
Where ITSM and ITAM work better together
Many ITAM and ITSM capabilities complement each other, and it’s therefore key for organizations to facilitate them working in tandem. This isn’t the only opportunity because ITAM activities and data can help other IT and business teams co-create value. However, its support of ITSM capabilities is probably some of the most visible and beneficial.
Examples of where ITAM capabilities and data improve ITSM capabilities (and business operations and outcomes as a result) include:
- IT support – where both incident management and service request management benefit from ITAM processes and data (to improve employee experience and productivity along with business operations and outcomes). For instance, leveraging ITAM data speeds up incident resolution times or new service provision. The data benefits are bidirectional too. For instance, the data collected within IT service desk transactions can help with asset audits. Process integration helps with ITAM-data accuracy, and IT support personnel can employ ITAM tools in areas such as automated software installs or removal.
- Change enablement and problem management – where asset data helps with proposed-change decisions (especially in understanding impact, costs, and risks) and understanding the effect of problems being investigated. This benefit, in part, overlaps with the next area.
- Service configuration management – service configuration management and ITAM aren’t the same things, but for organizations with no ambition to introduce a configuration management database (CMDB), ITAM capabilities can fulfill some service configuration management capabilities needs. For instance, in meeting capacity and performance management and service financial management asset data needs (as well as the aforementioned change enablement and problem management).
- IT governance – while corporate and IT governance needs are more extensive than ITSM, ITSM still has a governance role to play. The most visible area here is likely software compliance. Not just the day-to-day compliance activities but also the ability to quickly and effectively respond to software vendor audits to minimize financial and brand risks.
- Security management – where ITAM’s asset data facilitates ITSM’s patch management needs and the management of the risks associated with employees using non-approved software and hardware (although this might be an ITAM responsibility).
- Technology refresh projects – while an area that likely straddles ITSM and ITAM, ITSM and ITAM data can be leveraged to help manage technology refresh projects (particularly if there’s no corporate CMDB in place).
These are all areas where ITAM is already facilitating ITSM. There are, however, two other areas where the two IT management disciplines can further help each other:
- Artificial intelligence (AI) adoption
- Enterprise service management – sharing ITAM capabilities outside of IT
ITAM and AI-enabled capabilities
As with ITSM, your organization’s use of AI-based capabilities will amplify the benefits of ITAM tooling related to:
- Facilitating scalability
- Increasing operational speed and outcome accuracy
- Reducing operational costs
- Better informed decision-making
- Addressing ITAM people and skill shortages
For example, compliance reporting, where AI-based capabilities can reduce the time and effort spent responding to audits.
The impact of AI is bi-directional, with the use of AI in ITSM tools showing the “art of the AI possible,” informing the corporate expectations of ITAM tools, and sharing AI adoption learnings. While the use of AI in ITAM tools further benefits ITSM operations and outcomes.
Sharing ITAM capabilities outside of IT
The AXELOS Enterprise Service Management Industry Report 2021 found that 45% of organizations already share their ITAM capabilities outside of IT. Interestingly, ITAM is the third most shared ITSM capability after incident and service request management.
This sharing (of ITAM capabilities) fits two of the reported top three enterprise service management drivers:
- Process standardization and optimization.
- Employee experience and productivity improvement.
So why not add ITAM capabilities into your organization’s enterprise service management mix when looking to improve the operations and outcomes of other business functions through the sharing of proven ITSM capabilities?
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of ITSM and ITAM working in tandem, check out the Provance whitepaper ITSM and ITAM: A Powerful and Essential Combination
Stephen Mann is Principal Analyst and Content Director at the ITSM-focused industry analyst firm ITSM.tools. Also an independent IT and IT service management marketing content creator, and a frequent blogger, writer, and presenter on the challenges and opportunities for IT service management professionals.
Provance® sponsored the publication of this blog post to help inform and educate you about ITSM and ITAM.
ServiceTeam® ITSM takes a fresh approach to the service desk agent experience with a simplified and high-performance interface focused on the activities most important to you. ServiceTeam® ITAM lets you leverage Microsoft Power Apps, Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform eco-system to proactively plan and manage IT hardware, contracts, and software assets cost-effectively.