In the several years I have implemented service management for IT organizations ranging from small to large, public as well as private, I’ve often observed a continuing confusion about how to treat two particular service management processes: asset management and configuration management. Where ITIL combines the two processes as a single process, Service Asset and Configuration Management (SACM), some IT organizations prefer to keep these processes fairly separate. Implementing these processes as a single process could ignore the level of detail needed for tracking assets and maintaining configuration items accurately. On the other hand, when these processes are implemented separately, there is a potential for duplication of efforts, technology and work products among these processes. So, which approach is the right one: separate processes or a single process? Is there a right approach? What factors can help you determine the best approach for your IT organization?
To address these questions, let’s take a step back, and think about how asset management and configuration management processes have evolved historically. The following diagram shows the evolution of these processes since the early 1950s:
<<<click the images for a larger view>>>
It is evident that during the 1950s – 70s the separation of Asset and Configuration Management processes was clear, but since the advent of the concept of an IT service, new technologies and new infrastructure configurations, the separation is not very clear, and there have been questions about whether one can replace the other. In my view, the processes cannot replace one another as they are equally important, and they overlap and depend on one another. An understanding of IT assets and configuration items, which are at the core of these processes, can help better comprehend this overlap and interdependence.
Now, let’s think about the focus areas for Asset and Configuration Management processes.
It is clear that the Asset and Configuration Management processes focus on different areas but there is a significant amount of interaction between these processes as shown below:
So far, I’ve highlighted that the answer to the questions posed in the beginning of this column is that there is no one right approach (separate processes vs. single process) to treating Asset and Configuration Management processes. At this juncture, we should review some of the future key trends which concern the Asset and Configuration Management processes and can be summarized as the internet of things and virtualization:
Since there is no one right approach to implementing Asset and Configuration Management processes, how does your IT organization ensure that the interactions between these processes are maintained, duplication of processes, technology and efforts is avoided, and the organization is ready to tackle the future trends? One of the most effective ways to ensure your IT organization achieves these objectives is to consider the difference and similarities between the IT assets and configuration items, and design the two processes in concert with each other based on the component lifecycle by following these steps:
Step 1. Data classification
Step 2: Technology
Step 3: Design the component life cycle
Step 4: Process Design
Step 5: Establish Governance
The above approach of designing the component lifecycle results in the following benefits which help your IT organization achieve its objectives:
In conclusion, regardless of how you implement the Asset and Configuration Management processes, it is important that the interactions between these processes are maintained.