Peter Rowe asks: Can 'good enough' ever be good enough in ITAM?
“Agility” is an oft-used buzzword and in reality, it pushes organizations to recognize the cost of perfection. Essentially it pushes you to figure out if something is “good enough.” But when it comes to the IT Asset Management process, is “good enough” actually good enough?
I begin all of my presentations, articles and similar documents with this disclaimer: I am not a qualified Agile coach, and this is not a lesson in Agile methodologies.
Instead I want to pose the question: Can ITAM fit Agile or can Agile fit ITAM?
Agile, agile everywhere
Agile as a concept has spread beyond its original domain of software development with many sectors claiming to be (lowercase a) agile. Banks have an effective core methodology which reflects investment in agile ways of working, and mining companies are simplifying how they operate to create a more agile organization. Essentially, all types of businesses are working to change mindsets so that they fit the increasingly competitive and margin-dependent industry.
Agile is not about decorating the office with more Post-It notes. It’s welcoming change, talking to one another, using the continuous improvement process and empowering teams to self-organize.
One of the key concepts of Agile is “Flipping the Iron Triangle” and as we get into Agile ITAM, this becomes more significant.
The concept of traditional ITAM projects is that they are plan-driven and the scope is fixed. To deliver the project, time and resources are thrown at it. It’s no secret that a project scope often changes, but it changes retrospectively and often with a negative impact. Sometimes the scope is more fluid at the outset and may be subject to change if the schedule, or costs look like they may be affected.
Although the concept of being “Agile” in the IT sense is somewhat new, the goals of being Agile are not. Organizations have always tried to accelerate processes, provision quickly, manage business change and develop more flexible systems and there is also considerable cross-over between Agile and that “holy book” of business process, ITIL (the Information Technology Infrastructure Library). In fact, two guiding principles of ITIL Focus on Value and Progress Iteratively are both key Agile tenets!
Where to begin
The key to Agile ITAM is to start simply. There are as many different flavors of Agile as there are ice cream, and if you have any choice in the matter, I would suggest starting with Kanban. It is not a software development or project management lifecycle process, it’s an approach to change management. Kanban relies on one simple tool – a Kanban board, and three rules:
1. Visualize workflow
2. Limit work in progress (WIP)
3. Measure flow
Agile ITAM based on Kanban provides minimal entry barriers, allows easy integration with other processes and overcomes a number of organizational constraints. The focus is on “pulling” workloads downstream, not “pushing” and potentially overloading.
However, even if you don’t get a choice of which Agile flavor to follow, there are hybrids (Agile purists please skip ahead and don’t be too angry with me!) such as Scrumban so that you can mix and match to suit your ITAM team, and your wider organization.
Proper Agile ITAM is a journey that relies on focusing on the outcomes and deliverables. You still need all supporting documentation and artifacts from your existing ITAM processes. ITAM processes: Proofs of entitlement; Contracts; Access Control Policies etc. It’s just that the approach to gathering and using them is different.
Agile ITAM is iterative. It makes those big terms like “compliance” and “governance” easier to manage and the supporting documentation, relationships, communications, processes and governance are the key!
Remember, Agile ITAM is a mindset. You aren’t Agile just because somebody says you are or because of your prolific use of Post-It notes. It’s a philosophy that requires organizational maturity that when implemented, strengthens your competitive edge and streamlines your processes.
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