Traditionally, IT asset management has not received the focus it should.
That’s changed with the Covid-19 pandemic, which has elevated its importance within service management.
And why is it important? Just as a healthy human body relies on having core strength, asset management does the same job in service management.
The initial response to the pandemic from organizations was to increase the productivity of their people working from home. That meant a combination of structured IT asset distribution and, in some cases, throwing assets anywhere.
Today, those IT assets are still out there with varying levels of control in a remote working environment that may extend beyond the pandemic.
Organizations pursuing hybrid, office/remote working models need to think about controlling their assets, monitoring activity, and validating how those assets are used (for example, what software is installed).
The wider effect on organizations
In response to Covid-19, IT leaders developed the ability to be agile in their decisions, realizing there was really no alternative (which is one good thing to come out of the pandemic).
This is most evident with proliferation of collaborative tools such as Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, and virtual whiteboards. Previously, these were viewed as luxuries, not necessities, even in global organizations that use video teleconferencing or even fly people around the world to work together.
However, having many tools causes confusion about which is best to use and how to provide the right IT support. And this also has a downstream effect on asset management, particularly managing software licences.
Another side effect is the rationalization of existing assets. In one US city government example, the organization standardized digital collaboration tools to reduce the overhead of its legacy, traditional communications technology.
Organizations must plan now for the future to introduce policies around using assets, distribution, care, security, user support and other controls for a remote/hybrid working world.
Asset management and ITIL 4
For organizations distributing new and recovering old assets, I think there’s a golden opportunity to get rid of the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” approach and capitalize on the value stream elements of ITIL® 4.
This means truly understanding the value of applying ITIL 4’s guiding principles, particularly, focusing on value and keeping it simple and practical. And by optimizing value streams, service managers will be able to automate more – such as remote monitoring and support.
Recognizing the need to quickly get employees productive at home, one organization eliminated time-consuming approvals (temporarily) for laptops and established an appointment based ‘curb-side’ deployment to eliminate the costs and delays of shipping them to hundreds of employees.
Where collaboration was often taken for granted in an office environment (and rarely done well), it’s now a critical element in hybrid environments. And its success relies on the practical application of the relationship management practice and ITIL 4’s service value system.
Impact on employee productivity/experience
When organizations apply ITIL 4’s principles to IT asset management, their people feel more supported and productive when working remotely – whether using their own device or company-issued hardware.
People responsible for managing and accounting for assets need to be prepared for the various working options coming down the line – full-remote working, office, or hybrid.
And beyond the IT asset management aspect, ITIL 4 concepts feed into discussions about what else needs to happen next. For example, organizations are now identifying the jobs that must be on-site, versus offering more flexible options for people in roles that can effectively perform their work remotely.
Our experiences since Spring 2020 have taught us that we have to be flexible and agile in managing human resources, which is another critical component of service management.