Growth Pains: Standardizing Process and Procedures for a Robust IT Asset Management Program with Ian Silver - Device42

Growth Pains: Standardizing Process and Procedures for a Robust IT Asset Management Program with Ian Silver

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In this episode of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to IT Podcast, host Michelle Dawn Mooney discusses the challenges and strategies for building a robust IT Asset Management (ITAM) program with special guest Ian Silver, the ITAM manager for the Flynn Group of Companies. They delve into the definition of ITAM, which involves managing technology assets throughout their lifecycle, from procurement to retirement. They emphasize the importance of standardizing processes and procedures to overcome the challenges posed by fragmented tribal knowledge within organizations.

Silver shares insights into the first steps organizations should take to improve their ITAM practices, emphasizing the need to identify the specific problem they are trying to solve. He advises against letting tools dictate objectives and stresses the importance of clarity and focus.

The conversation highlights the significance of setting interim milestones and using reporting to track progress and measure success. Silver suggests tackling ITAM improvements incrementally and being patient with the process. He explains that productivity may initially decline as new standardized approaches are introduced but assures that the long-term benefits are worth the short-term trade-offs.

Listeners are encouraged to reach out to Ian Silver on LinkedIn for further assistance or questions regarding ITAM. Overall, the episode provides valuable insights into the challenges, strategies, and key considerations for organizations aiming to enhance their IT Asset Management practices.


Welcome to another episode of Hitchhiker’s Guide to IT Podcast. Brought to you by

Device42. On this show, we explore the ins and outs of modern IT management and the

infinite expanse of its universe. Whether you’re an expert in the data center or cloud or

just someone interested in the latest trends in IT technology. Hitchhiker’s Guide to IT is

your go to source for all things IT. So buckle up and get ready to explore the ever

changing landscape of modern IT management.

(Host: Michelle Dawn Mooney)

Hello and welcome to the hitchhiker’s Guide to IT a podcast to you by device42. I’m

your host Michelle Dawn Mooney. And today we’re talking about growth pains

standardizing process and procedures for a robust IT asset management program. And

I am pleased to bring on our special guest today. Ian Silver is the IT asset manager for

Flynn Group of companies, and Ian, thank you for being with me today.

(Guest: Ian Silver)

My pleasure. Looking forward to our conversation.

(Host: Michelle Dawn Mooney)

Before we get into that, can I ask you to give a brief bio for our audience, please?

(Guest: Ian Silver)

Well, having been an IT for as long as I am, that’s a, that’s a challenge. But I’ve been

doing this for I I can’t believe it forty years now. A variety of industries and a variety of

roles. Always looking at the thread that ties it all together is always looking for ways to

make things a little easier for the folks who have to work with this technology every day.

So, I started off doing programming, worked as a database administrator, system

integrator, project program manager, and over the years, I found myself here now doing

asset management and building out the asset management practice at the Flynn group

of companies?

(Host: Michelle Dawn Mooney)

So let’s start with this, what exactly does IT asset management entail?

(Guest: Ian Silver)

Wow, so I can give you the formal definition. Right? We’re responsible for managing

technology assets. So it’s looking after cradle to grave of all of the assets, whether

those are hardware, software services, and really it’s it’s both looking after the

operational aspects, making sure that things are up and running, and also tracking the

value proposition, so optimizing cost, and the value of those assets throughout their life

cycle. So from the time we get involved from procurement, selecting the assets, getting

them up and running into production, looking after refresh frequencies, opportunities for

optimization, and then how do we bring things to the end of their life cycle and retire and

dispose of assets.

(Host: Michelle Dawn Mooney)

A lot of moving parts there. So a lot, and we’d need a couple of podcasts probably to

talk about everything that it really entails. And as you said kind of like a high level

definition there, but what would you say are the primary challenges or obstacles when it

comes to really building out a robust IT asset management practice.

(Guest: Ian Silver)a

I think it’s gonna differ for everyone depending on where you’re coming from, how you’re

approaching this, one of the biggest challenges facing us, and and I’ve seen this in in a

number of the place is where I’ve worked, is there’s a lot of tribal knowledge about how

to do things when we don’t have a formal practice and standard process and

procedures in place, I like to refer to it as success through heroic efforts. Really talented

people who are very dedicated to success work very hard to make sure things get done,

and they develop ways of staying on top of things. What ends up happening is that

information is fragmented and siloed across the organization, and then if somebody

leaves, then you really start to understand just how dependent you are on this fragile

web of these heroic users who are keeping things afloat. And so the challenge is how

do you move from that to something that’s standardized, repeatable, and can be then

used by anyone across the organization with the proper, you know, set of training.

(Host: Michelle Dawn Mooney)

So, we’ve identified what the challenges are, and you said, you know, the process and a

lot of challenges built in there. So What’s the first step to take? What is the first thing

that needs to be done when it really comes to start improving our IT asset management


(Guest: Ian Silver)

For me, the very first step and it seems obvious is ask yourself what’s the problem we’re

trying to solve. Because it’s not gonna be the same specific problem for every

organization. And there’s the general problem. We need to make IT asset management

better. Sure. But that’s like trying to boil the ocean. So, what is it that’s really causing

you pain today? And for example, for us, we really had challenges around managing our

hardware, both our and our inventory of end user machines, laptops that, you know, we

burn through those things fast. They wear out, because they get heavy duty use or they

just get old and need to be replaced. So we’ve gotta track those. We’ve got lots of

servers and other network infrastructure that ages over time and has to be replaced,

and we have to be able to manage that. So for us, that was the first problem. We need

to get a better handle on our hardware and how do we go about getting that data


(Host: Michelle Dawn Mooney)

You’ve identified what the problem is because you said how can you really solve a

problem if you don’t know what it is. So we know what it is now. How do we go about

tackling whatever that problem is? And as you said, it’s going to be different depending

on which company and which issues that you’re having in that specific company.

(Guest: Ian Silver)

Right. And so I think the next part of it. And again, in an ideal world, in a green field

where you’re starting from scratch, take the time to talk through What do you want, what

processes and procedures do you wanna put in place to manage this stuff? Because

that’s gonna really help you clarify this is the problem I’m trying to solve. This is the

general approach to how I wanna solve it. And then from that, you can move on to say,

Oh, look, there’s tool a, there’s tool B, there’s tool C, and I can measure these things

against what am I specifically trying to accomplish. In our case, we got a little cart ahead

of the horse there, maybe. And we had a tool in place that was starting to collect a

whole bunch of data and then after the fact, we’re now trying to map that to these

processes and procedures. That’ll work fine as well. The challenge there is that you can

get easily distracted by lots of shiny things in the tools that you deploy, that maybe

aren’t part of the core problem you’re trying to solve. And so you can end up off on a

tangent here or there working on things that really aren’t helping you move forward on

on what your core vision is. So I think if you’ve got a tool in place and then you’re

building out your process, and practices, keep coming back to that process and practice

questions to keep your efforts focused on the tool on Ignore this stuff. It’s cool. We can

come back and look at that later, but right now we need to solve this problem.

(Host: Michelle Dawn Mooney)

So let’s talk about results because the perf is in the pudding, we’ve all heard of the

saying, So, what benchmarks can we look for to see if these approaches that we are

taking are actually working?

(Guest: Ian Silver)

I think there’s a lot of things to say there and one is it’s a journey, so you have to

establish interim milestones, and then you know, how do we know when we’re done

kinda milestones. And those interim milestones are things like when we need to do

remediation. So we’ve got gaps. We’ve got gaps between everything that’s deployed in

our thirty some locations across North America, and what we know about in our

centralized inventory. So how do we close those gaps? So we start building out some

reporting that says, hey, our gap is ten thousand mistaken or mismatched devices, and

then we can start reporting on reducing that number and the progress we’re making on

that. The other part is starting to build out the process and procedure changes, and

being able to do some reporting on the amount of work that’s now going in through the

standard procedures, so that we’re not recreating the gaps that we had to do the

remediation on in the first place. Right? It doesn’t doesn’t help us if we just remediate

the gaps and we don’t change the things that we were doing that led to those gaps in

the first place. So those two have to go hand in hand, and in general, you know, with

anything, reporting is the way that we pull the data and turn that data into information

that we can communicate about our progress.

(Host: Michelle Dawn Mooney)

There’s a lot of ground to cover here. And you are clearly trying to make it as simple as

possible and making it almost sound easy although we know it’s not because it’s very

layered, but what are a few things, maybe some key points that people can keep in

mind if they’re looking to improve IT Asset Management without kind of going down the

rabbit hole and kind of keeping the blinders on to get to the best success?

(Guest: Ian Silver)

Right? We’ve touched on a number of things. One is, and first and foremost, and it it it

sounds obvious, but I think it bears repeating. Which is to know what the problem is

you’re trying to solve. Remembering that the tools that you select are there to support

objectives that you’ve already identified, not the reverse. Don’t you know, don’t look to

the tools to tell you what you should be doing. They can sort of inform you, you know,

you may not realize, oh, I could do this with my hardware. I could actually tie this back

to purchasing and software and So, they may inform some of that, but don’t, they

shouldn’t drive it. The problem that you’re trying to solve, you need to get really clear

about that. And then how do you know when you solved it, and then use the tools to

support that. The second part is I made the comment earlier about, you know, it’s a boil

the ocean kinda problem. And if you try to do it all at once, you will fail. So, you have to

take little pieces at a time, and you have to measure those little successes you know,

take time to identify those incremental wins because they will add up to something.

They’re also, I used to use the analogy of someone learning to play an instrument,

playing piano like play guitar. If you if you record yourself every day and listen to what

you did yesterday, you’ll never notice any improvement. Because you don’t get better

that much better from one day to the next. You gotta wait a little bit of time and then look

back. And so taking time to identify those incremental wins and be patient around the

progress that you’re making. Take the time to look back on that, oh, yeah, we haven’t

done much in the last couple of weeks. But let’s look back to three months ago, we’ve

made a whole ton of progress. And then the final thing is recognize that Some things

are gonna from a productivity standpoint, some things are gonna get worse before they

get better. You know, you’re introducing a whole lot of new stuff people have to learn

new ways, they have to learn a new tool, they have to learn new procedures, and so

things that the folks who knew this stuff and were succeeding with those heroic efforts

that they could do boom boom boom, boom, they can’t do that way. And so, some of

your current experts will become less productive in the short term as you start to

introduce these new standardized ways of doing things, and you need to be okay with

that. And the phrase I like to use is go slow now to go faster later. You know, be willing

to make sure that you’ve got buy in from the top down to take the hit on productivity now

to successfully make the transition to the standard repeatable process approach that

everybody is gonna wanna see down the road.

(Host: Michelle Dawn Mooney)

Yeah. And that is a great analogy with the piano lessons, and I’ll think about that

because you, I’m sure, are a master. I tried a couple lessons and that’s where I ended.

So if I start up again, I’m not gonna do any recordings a day after and expect any big

improvements, but I think we live in this fast food mentality of a society now. We just, we

are used to getting everything we want, just right away and it’s hard to trust the process,

and clearly that is a key point that you have made in this conversation. Great

conversation, Ian. If people are out there and they’re saying, you know what, this is all

great. I need some help. I have some questions. I’d like more information. Where can

they find it? Can they reach out to you?

(Guest: Ian Silver)

Sure. Absolutely. You can find my profile on LinkedIn. It’s just my name. Last name and

then first name, so Silverayan or because back in the day, I first got a website in

nineteen ninety six. I was one of the first subscribers to Amazon and probably one of

the first people around with their own custom domain. So we used to refer to it as

Silvarian because it sounded very internet-y. So it’s my last name and my first name,

And that’s how you can find me on LinkedIn, and I’d be happy to talk to anyone about

any questions you have.

(Host: Michelle Dawn Mooney)

Perfect. Ian Silver IT asset manager for Flynn Group of companies, and great

conversation. As I said before, there are a lot of things that people need help with out

there and hopefully this lets a little bit of light on where they can start, but it definitely is

the process. And I love how you said you’re trusting that process in being patient. So

Thank you so much for your time today.

(Guest: Ian Silver)

It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Pleasure to have you. And I want to thank all of you for tuning in and listening to the

hitchhiker’s Guide to IT podcast brought to you by device42. Of course, you can go to for more information on Device42. And we would encourage you to

subscribe to the podcast to hear more great conversations like the one you heard today.

I’m your host Michelle Don Mooney, once again, thanks for joining us, and we hope to

see you on another podcast sometime soon.