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, we’re going to give some easy to grasp answers for your convenience!
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. It’s 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 isn’t really about technology management. ITSM clearly has to deal with IT, and to do it right, you’re 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 let’s just avoid creating yet one more acronym in a field that’s 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 doesn’t just take care of all these elements, it would do it all quickly!
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 you’re concerned over the deployment of this IT. So, ITAM on a day to day basis means that you’re managing an IT inventory. Over the course of doing proper ITAM, you’re 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, it’s 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, you’re managing processes, technology, policies, and people who have a specific impact on your telecom network.
In TEM, you’re 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.
That’s 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 can’t do a good job of telecom management if you don’t 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 you’re 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 you’ll know if a problem is a one-time affair or if it’s part of a much bigger issue.
Beyond all of these elements, you have to know what’s 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, it’s because the principles are the same. What sets these actions apart in TEM is that here, we’re really focussed on these aspects as they relate to our telecom needs and assets.
Speaking of looking over contracts…
Are you paying what you’re 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.
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.
- What is ITSM? An Important Question in IT Asset Management
- What Is ITIL And How Can It Help You Work Smarter?
- The 5 Ws of IT Asset Management