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Implementing IT Asset and Configuration Management: ‘Must-Knows’ Before the Start

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IT Asset and Configuration Management processes are like two doors of a building where each door uses its own corridor to lead you into the same room. And this room is the hall of IT property management.

The IT Asset Management door is usually for people with IT costs in mind. In its corridor, they track physical, financial and contractual information about IT and non-IT assets to increase the efficiency of IT service provision. And the Configuration Management door is for people involved in IT service operations. Behind it, they track technical states of configuration items (CIs) and relationships among them.

As for the core elements of the two processes, an asset and a configuration item participate in different procedures and depict different sides of the same IT infrastructure element, but not in all cases. Only if an asset’s failure can seriously affect a business service, the asset gets a corresponding configuration item. For instance, Microsoft Exchange Server gets its own configuration item, since its failure impacts the email business service. Given that, some assets stay ‘alone,’ for example, a computer mouse (its failure won’t affect anything much since it can easily be replaced). And some configuration items also stay ‘alone,’ if they can’t be financially viewed as assets (say, business services themselves).

But this is all theory. To see how different IT Asset and Configuration Management processes are, you can turn to leading ITSM platforms and learn how they mirror these processes in real life:

  1. ServiceNow Asset Management.
  2. ServiceNow Configuration Management.
  3. BMC Remedy Asset Management.
  4. BMC Remedy Configuration Management.

Process requirements for IT Asset and Configuration Management

Before implementing Asset and Configuration Management, it makes sense to check if you have their triggering and supporting processes in place, additionally learn this article.

For Configuration Management, such essential processes are connected with daily operations of managing and restoring IT services:

  1. Change Management (to trigger updates to the Configuration Management Database).
  2. Incident Management (to see what CIs were impacted by incidents and what potential issues these impacts may bring).
  3. Problem Management (to analyze potential root causes of problems through viewing relationships among configuration items).
  4. IT Service Continuity Management (to use the relationships among CIs to reduce the risk of disasters and create IT service restoration plans).
  5. Availability Management (to establish whether configuration items at hand can grant needed levels of IT service availability).
As to Asset Management, it can function on its own. However, Asset Management can only bring its maximum benefit, if you have:
  1. Request Fulfillment (to let employees request assets and asset-related operations).
  2. Financial Management (to track financial information about assets, such as asset cost, depreciation, maintenance repair costs).
  3. Supplier Management, namely the Procurement Process (to let your responsible IT employees manage IT asset acquisition).
Implementing IT Asset and Configuration Management

Which one goes first: Asset or Configuration Management?

We can’t universally say that either Asset or Configuration Management must always be implemented first: everything depends on your needs.

Situation 1: If you already have Incident, Problem, and Change Management and aim to keep organizing your IT processes according to ITIL, Configuration Management should go first. The reason is, it supports IT operations and brings more clarity into IT service maintenance.

Situation 2: If you don’t yet have an established system of ITIL processes and want to first focus on organizing financial tracking of your IT property as well as clearing up and managing its life cycles, Asset Management goes first. You may not even plan to go further into IT operations and stop at Asset Management alone. However, companies rarely do so because they want to achieve greater IT efficiency by implementing more ITIL processes.

Situation 3: If you have not yet set up any ITIL process, you may include both Configuration and Asset Management into your ITIL starter pack to support Incident, Change, Problem Management, and Request Fulfillment. This will help you to cover your further ITIL process needs in advance.

Preparation steps to take

Naturally, you can’t implement either process overnight. You can’t even prepare for their implementation that quickly. To make sure that your IT Asset and/or Configuration Management implementation goes smoothly, here are some preparation steps to follow.
  • Outline your business goals
Knowing the main objectives of IT Asset and Configuration Management processes, you can try to interpret what business goals these objectives should serve in the long run. For instance, you may want Configuration Management to reduce your downtimes and Asset Management to reduce your IT procurement costs. This will help you reflect on implementation value later by analyzing whether the processes contributed enough benefits to your IT.
  • Plan implementation scope
Planning your implementation scope will help you to set your implementation expectations right. For instance, if you decide on implementing basic functionality, such as configuring forms and fields, setting up access rights and importing data, you can expect the project to be completed within one month.
  • Get your people ready for a change
Introducing both Configuration and Asset Management requires a massive business culture change. For example, multiple departments will have to ditch their old domain-specific information repositories (say, Microsoft Excel and Access) and start using the new uniform Configuration Management Database. While financial and IT specialists will need to understand the necessity of managing IT assets outside of enterprise-wide asset management systems. Given that, you’ll have to integrate uncovered IT-specific asset data back into these systems for further enterprise-wide analysis.

To ensure better user adoption, you need to announce the coming changes upfront and then plan for future user training sessions at the final process implementation stages.

  • Start distributing responsibilities
And now you can start thinking about how these new processes of Asset and Configuration Management will fit into your human resources. To distribute needed responsibilities, you can retrain some of your employees, recruit new talent or hire consultants.
  • Inspect your data quality
You need to thoroughly inspect and manage the quality of the data that will later used within Asset or Configuration Management. Poor data quality may not only fail to bring conceivable IT management results but also harm your business by misleading IT operations and wasting away financial resources.

Still, one of the most important tips that you should mind throughout the whole implementation preparation process is to remember to pace yourself. Make a step at a time and don’t try to force and hustle the implementation process. Such a grand change as implementing IT Asset or Configuration Management needs to be thoroughly planned and administered to meet your set business goals.

About the Author

Pavel Rodin is an ITSM Consultant and ServiceNow Developer at ScienceSoft, an official ServiceNow partner. With 10+ years of experience in the field, Pavel focuses on ITIL concepts and ITSM tools (ServiceNow, BMC). He holds a range of certifications, including ITIL v3 Foundation, Certified ServiceNow System Administrator, Certified ServiceNow Implementation Specialist – IT Service Management and BMC Remedy AR System Skilled Professional Certificate.

Implementing IT Asset and Configuration Management: ‘Must-Knows’ Before the Start key takeaways:
  1. Process requirements for IT Asset and Configuration Management
  2. Which one goes first: Asset or Configuration Management?
  3. Preparation steps to take

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