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3 Big Questions About IT & Telecom Management

Posted by Henry Cheang | May 22, 2015 7:00 AM

Lately, we’ve been asked a lot of questions about IT asset management, IT service management, and telecom expense management. These questions are coming from many people in many fields. We’re always glad to explain the nuts and bolts about these three disciplines, but it just might be more helpful to put the answers in one place.

And so, today, were going to give some easy to grasp answers for your convenience!

Do you know the differences among ITAM, ITSM, and TEM?

 

What is IT service management (ITSM)?

What is ITSM? Well, let's start with the meaning of IT service”. It's a collection of hardware, software, people, and documentation that forms an IT system to give a helpful service to a customer or other type of end user (i.e., staff in your organization). ITSM helps IT managers (or similar roles) meet the technology needs of their end users. Its also one of the elements that makes IT governance possible in an organization.

At a deeper level, we can say that ITSM is focused on:

  • Change and problem management
  • Recovery from disaster
  • (IT) resource planning

Did you notice something subtle in the described focus? ITSM isnt really about technology management. ITSM clearly has to deal with IT, and to do it right, youre going to have to master technology. That said, the purpose of ITSM is really all about furnishing IT services that are aligned with company and/or work needs. It might be helpful to think of ITSM as IT service delivery, but lets just avoid creating yet one more acronym in a field thats really crowded to begin with, shall we?

Because of the purpose of ITSM, what we need to keep in mind when we talk or think about ITSM is that all actions in service to ITSM are taken as part of processes that impact the organization as a whole. ITSM is built around policies and processes that can be repeated and which have to be consistent over time.

The concrete actions in ITSM include having to manage ordering services, tracking and dealing with incidents (i.e., when things go wrong), and handling contracts (and contract details) for IT services. It goes without saying that good ITSM doesnt just take care of all these elements, it would do it all quickly!

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What is IT asset management (ITAM)?

IT asset is any information, system, or hardware owned and used by a company (or organization) for its professional activities. Did you notice the difference between IT asset and IT service? What we call IT service is something that delivers a service. The IT asset is the thing that can provide that service.

Since ITAM is about managing these assets, what it means is that youre concerned over the deployment of this IT. So, ITAM on a day to day basis means that youre managing an IT inventory. Over the course of doing proper ITAM, youre taking in data (i.e., volume held, cost involved, and contractual obligations) about an IT asset throughout its life cycle in the company so that you can make purchase, repair, and replacement decisions as new needs arise.

Because this task can (and is) huge, good ITAM needs companies to put in place robust processes that are automatic. Think about it: Just on a personal level, its easy to lose track of all the bills and devices that you have to manage. Now imagine having to do that for an entire company, especially a big one.

The only way to keep track of every IT asset from requisition through retirement is to make good solid use of powerful software tools that help you track it all from start to finish without your constant attention.

You would not want to spend that much time and effort doing this, nor would you be able to do so. Once your business starts owning hundreds (or even dozens) of IT assets, there is literally not enough time in the day to do this using just human staff.

What is telecom expense management (TEM)?

TEM is the method through which organizations manage the telecom network they need for their activities. As with ITSM, TEM involves many things at once. In TEM, youre managing processes, technology, policies, and people who have a specific impact on your telecom network.

In TEM, youre dealing with an inventory (of telecom devices and services), business processes and rules (e.g., purchase decisions and telecom usage rules), policies (i.e., governance), and telco experts. As with ITSM, TEM really is only effective when the processes involved both make sense and are repeatable.

Thats still a bit vague. To really answer "what is TEM?", we should drill down into the details about what happens in TEM.

Telecom inventory management

This is what TEM has in common with ITAM: Managing inventory is key. You cant do a good job of telecom management if you dont know what you have. So, any good TEM solution will ensure you always know what you own and use at any given moment.

Order, network, incident, and contract management

Implied in the previous paragraph is the fact that you have to keep constant track of what youre getting (or getting rid of). You also need to know, as soon as possible, if any part of your network needs repairs or upgrades. And you need to log every incident that happens. That way youll know if a problem is a one-time affair or if its part of a much bigger issue.

Beyond all of these elements, you have to know whats going on in your contracts with your telco providers. Are you getting the right services? Or the right amount of the right services? Do the voice and data plans that made sense a year ago still fit with your needs today?

If all of this sounds similar to what I described about functions in ITSM, its because the principles are the same. What sets these actions apart in TEM is that here, were really focussed on these aspects as they relate to our telecom needs and assets.

Speaking of looking over contracts

Financial management

Are you paying what youre supposed to be paying? Are you allocating your telco expenses to the right user or unit? TEM helps you track all of these costs and bills for your telecom usage and purchases.

Business Intelligence

The great thing about TEM is that, in the course of keeping tabs on so many things, you can make some amazing discoveries on where your business (and that of your customers) is going. You can see trends and that means that you can actually build strategies around them.

Final words for now...

Well, I hope that cleared up some questions!  There are many different types of disciplines and solutions out there that help manage technology in some way, shape, or form. I know it's easy to get lost in the details, especially when you need to make an important choice about the best path forward for your business. When that happens, you can count on us to have the answers you need. Contact us today to figure out what you need to manage your IT. 

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Topics: Telecom Expense Management, IT Assets, IT Inventory, Acronyms, ITAM, ITIL, IT cost management, tem, Trends, ITSM

Written by Henry Cheang

Henry has a lifelong passion for science and technology. This enthusiasm is put to good use in a cutting-edge software company like Cimpl. As product marketer, Henry researches market and user needs to develop user and buyer personas, contributes to product design, and helps coordinate product messaging. Henry also writes nearly the entirety of all documentation for Cimpl’s many successful platforms. In his spare time, Henry devotes much energy to family, friends, and martial arts. Henry recently completed his Master’s in Business and Administration from Concordia University, where he specialized in the study of marketing, organizational behavior, and corporate governance. He has authored academic papers on the latter two subjects; these papers form part of his bibliography of over 20 professional research publications.

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