A real highlight of working for SAMGarde is the fact that we are 100% independent of any software vendor, including SAM/ITAM Toolset Vendors.
One of the benefits of this is that we can talk openly and honestly about the tools that are available to you to support ITAM, and most importantly we can help you get the right tool for the right price for your organisation.
We are under no pressure to force on you a publisher’s toolset just because we are a partner of theirs and we are contractually bound to make several sales for them per year to maintain this status.
Which ITAM Toolsets do SAMGarde work with?
We have worked, and continue to work, with all the major ITAM toolsets (Flexera, ServiceNow, Snow, etc.) and it is fair to say that they each have their own strength and weaknesses.
That sounds like a bit of a weak statement, but it is true.
Remember, we do not take payment from the publishers for any software sales, so in effect we are a group of experienced ITAM professionals with exposure to a wide range of toolsets, who can provide a totally independent opinion.
How to select the right ITAM Toolset?
So, how do you go about selecting the ITAM toolset that is right for you?
Selecting the most appropriate toolset for your needs is key, but there’s more to it than that and we find it helps to consider the wide scope of ITAM, and how it should touch most parts of your business, when considering what to purchase.
In a sense you are not simply purchasing a toolset for the ITAM team, your purchasing it for the business as whole.
Consider your IT Service Manager and Service Desk Analysts, do they care what tool you purchase?
If your ITAM tool will become, or help you become, the single source of truth for software inventory, is it important for the Service Desk Analyst to know what’s installed on the device they are trying to troubleshoot?
What happens if the tool you purchase relies on 3rd party software inventory, will this be sufficient to help someone determine that an issue is caused by the incorrect edition of SQL being installed on a laptop?
Does your Finance Director, or CFO, care about IT devices on the Capital Assets Register?
Do they need an automated and accurate way of calculating depreciation for hardware and/or software assets?
There are hundreds of areas in a business that ITAM can inform, consult, and influence and the choice of toolset will determine how possible and how much effort this will take.
Given all this, why would you not just purchase the most fully featured toolset you can afford?
Why not use a toolset publishers’ collateral to help you put together a business case to get the “best” toolset?
It is not quite as simple as that.
A recent SAMGarde study showed that a majority of businesses use less than (or have implemented less than) ½ of the key advertised features of ITAM toolsets.
You may well look forward to offering your users an app store like interface to select the software they want to install, but will you implement that?
Do you have the processes to back this up?
Don’t you already have a Service Management toolset that can do this?
What about the banner support for the exceedingly expensive database software you use?
You may have paid extra for a toolset that supports that, but now the publisher is hosting this for you in their own cloud and you simply get a bill each month.
However, you have just been hit by a publisher audit for a piece of terminal emulation software that your tool did not recognise out of the box and you are now being faced with unbudgeted spend.
If we consider the areas of my business that ITAM may touch and the software that we use and where we use it does that get me to a stage where we can make an informed choice on a toolset?
Each toolset will require varying levels of upfront investment to implement, to train staff, to interface with other existing tools – and ongoing cost to maintain the level of accuracy that an ITAM toolset needs.
Some tools will ask more of you, some less, but that does not necessary one of better than the other in this respect.
The tool you need might already exist in your organisation
A common trait we see amongst long established business with an ITAM function is the “toolset shuffle”.
This describes the process by which an organisation ditches an ITAM toolset for an alternative on the basis that the currently installed one is not working.
There will of course be scenarios where a toolset really is no longer performing the role it should, but so often it is a lack of correct implementation and the governance and process that ITAM requires that is missing.
Switching between Tool A and Tool B may yield some initially good results as money is spent on the implementation stage, but often the same issues will reoccur where missing processes remain.
An alternative may already reside with your IT Service Management tool. Acting as a CMDB already allows for some form of asset management, but significant investments have been made to upgrade some of these tools over the last few years and at least one is a serious challenger in terms of licence management functionality to some of the standalone ITAM tools.
It could make financial and operational sense to simply “upgrade” a Service Management toolset which should already be embedded in your organisation and possibly already contain relevant data that would feed your ITAM tool.
However, if your ITAM risks lie with a specific publisher or product that the Service Management tool does not currently cover (i.e. calculate consumption for) then you may have to use a dedicated ITAM tool that provides consumption for that product.
One Toolset or Many?
We see a need for ITAM in more locations than ever before. Whether it be in cloud hosted servers, or Kubernetes containers, or a SaaS solution.
Getting the right data from these solutions to allow ITAM to perform its function can be challenging and it is unlikely you’ll find an ITAM toolset that adequately supports all aspects of the process (by this we broadly refer to discovery, inventory gathering, entitlement gathering and consumption calculation).
While the toolsets are continually being developed to plug these gaps, the sheer scale and breadth of modern day IT may suggest that it is unlikely that we’ll ever see one tool that truly covers all you may need it to.
Therefore, you may find that complimentary tools are required – or in many cases – an existing tool that contains the data you require.
The interesting question to then ask is: How easy is it to get data into my ITAM toolset?
Do not take the publishers word for it. Fancy terms and promises mean nothing if in real life the complexity is hidden away on a server you don’t have access to, behind poorly documented API’s or commands and you end up having to engage the publisher to create an import for you that other tools would handle elegantly via a web interface.
Is the answer ever “No Toolset?”
It is not inconceivable that the ongoing cost of an ITAM toolset would not yield value for money in some circumstances.
A non-definitive list of examples where this may hold true might include smaller organisation with:
- Few IT assets and/or employees
- An almost exclusive reliance on SaaS
- A very limited number of applications and a locked down desktop environment
Does this mean that ITAM is also irrelevant?
Strong process and governance remain vital in these organisations, but we will be one of the few not trying to force a toolset on you if we believe it is the right decision for you.
Any ITAM toolset is better than no ITAM toolset, unless of course no ITAM toolset is absolutely the right choice for you.
Consider the scope of ITAM in your organisation and especially what publishers you are particularly interested in.
A toolset that will not calculate consumption on that piece of very expensive software you have deployed on thousands of devices with little control over is not going to be the right choice for you.
Do not assume that every ITAM toolset handles every publisher the same – there remains a large gulf in terms of capabilities and publishers will quite understandably talk about what their toolset does well, as opposed to where the gaps are.
Equally, purchasing the most capable and expensive toolset is not always the right choice and you will likely end up with features that you are paying for and never use.
Always be wary of falling for the blot-on and extras that frequently do not get the attention [during the selection process] of the main product, but often end up adding a significant percentage the overall purchase price and are rarely used (or as beneficially or fully featured as sold).
More than anything, a toolset without governance and process backing it is almost certain to fail.
How SAMGarde can help
At SAMGarde we can help you with the process of ITAM toolset selection.
We are 100% Independent (which you can read more about here), so this means that you can be sure that we will not push a tool on you because we are being paid, or are taking a commission, to do so.
- Assess your needs
- We will help you talk to your business to understand their needs
- We will provide maturity assessments
- Help you plan for implementation and post-implementation work
- Augment your ITAM function with experienced staff while before, during or after your toolset implementation
- Run process workshops to help ensure a new toolset is embedded successfully
- Or where a toolset is not required, we can ensure you have the right level of expertise and governance to keep ITAM running without the need for ongoing toolset costs