The ITAM Consultant – Skills & Experience
By Paul Sheehan, Managing Partner at IT Asset Management Solutions (ITAMS)
Published by The ITAM Review, 6 March 2013I receive quite a few ITAM related CVs across my desk in the average week, so I thought I would share what I consider to be the most redeeming qualities for ITAM professionals and how those qualities have changed as the market has evolved.
We see Licence Management as a specialist subset of ITAM, but the people we tend to hire these days have a completely different profile to those we might have hired a few years ago. We’re now very much looking for data oriented people – it’s all about the data.
Whilst licence management is probably the ultimate data challenge, compliance calculations still depend on ‘hardware’ aspects such as CPU/core/socket, virtualisation relationships, clustering, asset status/environment and the underlying contents of multiple desynchronised discovery sources.
Hardware data reconciliation has an impact for configuration management as well as licence management. It also has major knock on implications for outsourcer billing, internal chargeback and support, amongst other significant areas. Configuration programmes are now stressing these ‘golden record’ activities.
So, much of ITAM and licence management benefit now needs complex data to be acquired, managed and brought together.
In my opinion the six key qualities of ITAM professionals include:
- ANALYTICS – the self-discipline to work through dry documentation and spread sheets, extracting key information, analysing and modelling. Forensics and the focussed detail to work through the bones of a contract or dataset.
- LICENSING SMARTS– awareness or working knowledge of software licensing models, metrics and calculations
- CONTRACT SMARTS – awareness or working knowledge of asset related contract, financial and procurement terminology
- A LICENSING NICHE – It is advantageous for ITAM professionals to have in-depth skills and experience with at least a few vendors under their belt e.g. Microsoft, Oracle, SAP
- WORK ETHIC – a customer first work ethic. The discipline to strive for the right result for the customer and the staying power to get the job done, often in the face of unreasonable demands
- CONSULTING – the ability to truly consult with clients and deal with relationships and situations holistically, more on this below
The ability to consult
Quite a few ITAM professionals cut their teeth in Large Account Resellers (LAR), or large end user organisations.
LARS often allow ambitious individuals to pick up considerable licensing expertise and exposure to customer requirements and the negotiation cycle. It is not unusual for former licensing account managers with a couple of years experience with SAM to enter the UK consulting market with a £60-£70K price on their head. Plus bonus.
Unfortunately licensing expertise alone is no longer good enough. ITAM professionals also need the knowledge of licensing with that of IT service provision and complex technical environments. And they need to be able to educate and lead, not just react.
The ability to consult is critical. IT Asset Managers in large end user firms tend to gain a lot of experience fast, and earn less than LAR commercial folks. However, they often don’t want to travel and frequently don’t have the personality and/or motivation to join professional services firms. Nothing wrong with that of course; it just makes recruiting for ITAMS harder.
It is often difficult to pinpoint the strengths above on a CV but it is definitely demonstrable in a remarkable ITAM professional – it is a mixture of project management, commercial savvy, technical knowhow and the gravitas brought by experience of working with senior people close to the money.
Motivated Evangelist, Practical Fixer or Control Freak?
We have witnessed the emergence of three definite styles in the ITAM market:
- The motivated evangelist, strategy, consultant, relationship builder
- The practical fixer, the detail person, the analyst
- The control freak and project manager, with specialised knowledge
One style is not better than the others and most individuals will have a mixture – but our experience tells us that in a team, all three are needed to deliver effective, efficient ITAM and/or licence management programmes.
In the UK we’re facing a real shortage of ITAM professionals. At my firm we’ve started to take the approach of delivering more services off site, which allows us to build knowledge and our teams in a structured environment. Personally though, I want to avoid offshoring but unless government make it easier and lower costs for businesses like ours to train newcomers, perhaps this is inevitable?
The industry is very much on the up and we urgently need more bandwidth and skills to cope with increased demand. Building your ITAM skills and experience is not an easy path but those wishing to invest time and effort into this market will be rewarded with a satisfying career and the opportunity to make a difference.
Whether you are a seasoned ITAM professional or newcomer to the industry I welcome your feedback, and I wish you all the best.
If you would like more information contact us.
About Paul Sheehan
Paul is co-founder of IT Asset Management Solutions (ITAMS) and heads up the consulting team and delivery operation. With over 25 years of industry experience, he takes an active role as Managing Consultant and strategic advisor to the company’s medium to large clients.
In recent years he has been instrumental in developing and delivering tailored managed services for licence management in collaboration with enterprise clients.