Sunday, 5th December 2021
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Why we need an ITAM certification scheme

By Martin Thompson, founder of the ITAM Forum.

During the last decade, the discipline of IT Asset Management (ITAM) has been slowly rising out of the shadows. Once known as the back-office team that simply “count computers,” as the reach and strategic value of ITAM has continued to grow, it has come out of the basement and up to the boardroom. According to research conducted by the ITAM Review, 37% of ITAM practitioners reported directly to the C-suite in 2018, compared with 45% reporting to the more operationally-focused ITSM in 2011. This is a significant change in just seven years, and there are a number of reasons for this:

· Digital transformation has made IT much more critical to the business, elevating it from the team that fixes your PC to the function that drives and enables digital transformation and business strategy

· IT purchases are no longer the preserve of the IT department – the growing trends in Software-as-a-Service and cloud have made customers out of everyone in the business. Every department now purchases IT. ITAM’s domain has expanded across the business to accommodate this change

· ITAM as a discipline has grown up. As it has become more sophisticated in its approach, the value it delivers to the business has become indispensable.

Why the world needs ITAM

Before making the case for ITAM certification, we must first establish why the world needs ITAM. For a number of reasons, IT Asset Management deserves to become a de facto business practice within every organisation, in the same vain as other common disciplines such as marketing, HR, accounting etc.:

· Cost savings - cost savings are typically the main justification for a strong ITAM function and with good reason. If you consider that roughly a third of software is wasted or unused, regardless of whether it is desktop software, SaaS subscriptions or cloud infrastructure, the cost savings from ITAM alone justify its existence.

· Enhanced security - ITAM and information security (InfoSec) are closely related, but historically, their roles have had limited cooperation and integration. This is starting to change, and during the next decade, this will become one of the most important areas for ITAM development.

· Software licence compliance – many ITAM projects are started because of a costly and disruptive software publisher audit. Software license compliance is therefore an obvious benefit of good ITAM.

· Agility – ITAM has a powerful story when it comes to supporting business agility and digital transformation. The better the visibility of what you have, where it’s located, how it’s configured, and how it’s being used, the faster you can change, and the more quickly a business can transform.

· Risk management - Risk management is the flip side of the coin for most of the benefits that good ITAM brings. Good ITAM help to reduce and/or mitigate the following types of risks: Financial risk, Operational risk, Regulatory compliance risk and Reputational risk.

Why an ITAM certification is important for organisations

Given the broad and proven business benefits of ITAM – including cost savings, security, risk management and even sustainability – I believe it should be practiced by every organisation, within every industry, around the world. But when it comes to obtaining executive support, it is difficult for ITAM professionals to demonstrate their value without an internationally-recognised certification to refer to. Just look at the proliferation of information security practices off the back of the ISO 27001 standard to get a sense of the power of a globally recognised standard. A certification based on ITAM’s international standard (ISO19770) would validate ITAM and give ITAM practitioners the stamp of approval needed to secure their executive support. The ITAM Forum was founded as a professional body to deliver this certification.

ISO19770 was first published in 2006. Despite being in existence for more than a decade, there has never been a formally recognised way of certifying an organisation’s ITAM practice against the ISO19770 standard. This has prevented ITAM from achieving its full potential.

While a company meeting the standards of ISO19770 delivers value in its own right, a globally-recognised ITAM certification will make it more worthwhile for organisations to invest in ITAM and to demonstrate to its peers, partners, customers and stakeholders that it meets the highest working practices in the industry. This in turn will drive further adoption of the standard, raising up the professionalism and maturity of ITAM, which in turn, will increase the business value organisations receive from their ITAM practice and from their IT assets.

The ITAM Forum has kicked off the process of becoming the trade body to deliver this certification, effectively creating the first ‘Kitemark for the ITAM industry’. By benchmarking an ITAM department’s output against a recognised ISO standard, stakeholders in and outside of IT (and in particular, those not fully versed in the complexity of IT assets) will be assured of quality.

The smart management of IT assets is a shrewd business practice that delivers benefits far beyond IT. ITAM therefore has a rightful place outside of the niche IT/ITSM domain from where it started and become a boardroom priority in its own right. A globally-recognised certification is the key to make it happen.


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