IT leaders often struggle to develop a convincing business case for investing in ITAM – whether setting up a new ITAM function or investing in existing capabilities to support growing business demands. After all, most organizations don’t do ITAM for the sake of doing ITAM.
The reason for managing technology assets is not simply to ensure that we have accounted for the assets, are able to identify them and how they are being used. There is no business case for ITAM as a standalone function.
However, when used properly, ITAM forms a critical enabler for recognized business priorities such as digital transformation, cost optimization, cyber security and operational efficiency. The key to achieving recognition for the value of – and need for – ITAM is to link it to the business initiatives that are already perceived as truly important.
WHAT IS THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ITAM?
It’s important to keep in mind what the purpose of the business case is (and the clue is in the name, as it’s a business case, not a technology investment justification). Business cases are used to help senior stakeholders prioritize investment in finite resources that will support business objectives. As you build your business case, you need to ensure you can articulate the risks, benefits and impacts in terms that reflect business priorities.
To do this, you should review your organization’s internal and external communications around mission, objectives, strategy and delivery of products and services, so that you can mirror the appropriate language and explain the reasons for investing in ITAM in terms that demonstrate close alignment with documented business goals.
PROVIDING THE CONTEXT
While the business case needs to be concise and to the point, it is important to ensure that ITAM is positioned as supporting business decision-making throughout the organization as digital transformation permeates every aspect of your organization’s activities.
Any ITAM initiative should be positioned in the context of business change, as ITAM is not done for ITAM’s sake. There needs to be clear alignment of the proposed ITAM solution to key business initiatives through the related IT initiatives and specific funded IT projects. While these projects may not have included ITAM in their initial scope, it is likely that many of them (particularly transformation projects such as cloud migration, OS upgrades, major business system upgrades or migrations such as ERP, CRM or HCM) will have a dependency on good quality, accurate data about existing technology in order to plan any upgrade or replacement.
Where ITAM investment cannot be clearly linked to existing funding, then it must focus instead on highlighting the risk of non-investment, such as a software audit failure on a scale that has significant budgetary impact, a security breach that exposes lack of asset data as a key vulnerability, a internal audit failure that flags up a regulatory requirement for improved asset data, or a significant reduction of internal budgets due to unbudgeted overspending or external economic pressures reducing income.
In this case, there either needs to be a compelling reason (which needs to speak directly to those holding the purse strings) for immediate investment, or it may be that the initial business case is required to ensure that the project is on the list of funded projects for the next budget cycle.
No business case is likely to succeed without the support of key stakeholders who will champion it when investment is being considered. In the case of ITAM, stakeholders are also key when it comes to benefits realization – the benefits of ITAM are not to the ITAM team itself, but to the broader business. In most cases the budget holders, system owners and process owners who will reap the benefits of ITAM sit across the IT organization and even in the business. It is therefore necessary for these individuals to sign off on any benefits that directly impact on their budgets of business activities. This has the twofold benefit of demonstrating the breadth of the potential impact of ITAM on the organization and of ensuring that they are committed to helping ITAM succeed – if the investment is approved, the benefit owners will be held accountable for delivering the benefits, so should be supportive of the project and the ITAM team.
Key initiatives that can benefit from ITAM input include:
- Cybersecurity & Privacy
- Digital transformation (including application rationalization, cloud migration, OS upgrades, database migration); data monetization
- IT/OT integration
- IoT and AI projects
- Sourcing strategy.
In the next part of this blog series I will look at each of these more closely and provide guidance as to what to consider when aligning to one of these projects.
To learn more about how to articulate the benefits of implementing an ITAM function to the business and gain executive support, register for our upcoming webinar ‘Building the Business Case for SAM’. As part of our ITAM best practice webinar series, Victoria equips you with step-by-step advice on how to identify and engage critical stakeholders.