This year, ServiceNow brings Knowledge to your home office. The Digital Experience has been extended from the usual five days to nearly a month and promises an exciting mix of sessions on varied topics. You can build your agenda, by choosing from breakout sessions, product demos, talks by ServiceNow leaders and industry experts, or customer stories. Filter sessions based on specific business challenges you are trying to address at work and get valuable insights from leaders like you, partners, and solution experts, that you can take back to your organization.
INRY participated in one of the first breakout sessions on IT Asset Management Panel (Audit & IT Asset) (BRE2855). The panel consisted of Brian Pomerleau - IT Section Head at Mayo Clinic, and Jason Sheehan - Director, Enterprise IT End User Services at Donaldson Company, and Shea Laughlin from INRY. This 10-minute read gives you a sneak-peek into the ServiceNow IT Asset Management implementation at Mayo Clinic and Donaldson Company.
This panel navigates questions from Shea for Brian and Jason and helps us know the reasons behind implementing ServiceNow ITAM and choosing INRY as their implementation partner. They also discuss how ITAM affected the decisions made by these leaders during COVID and outline their future roadmap in the ITAM journey.
Shea: Jason, what does Asset Management mean to you, and how are you currently utilizing it today?
Jason: Asset management, to me, is lifecycle management. It is the primary mechanism through which our organization manages laptops and desktop assets, with a specific focus on scheduling the retirement dates for these assets. It provides us a definitive source of truth when planning lifecycle replacements. One of the capabilities that greatly benefitted our employees is the automated scheduling process, where our employees get a heads-up when their assets are coming to the end of their lifecycle so that they can schedule and manage the lifecycle replacement process.
Shea: Brian, would you like to add anything about Mayo Clinic's experience?
Brian: We were new to Asset Management. We went live with Hardware Asset Management (HAM) in December 2019. A couple of things that jump out is how it allowed us to do the full financial lifecycle hardware and also use it for tracking our inventory more accurately in real-time. During the COVID phase, it enabled us to know our asset inventory so that we could send laptops to people working from home. We found it to be surprisingly useful in this new reality.
Shea: Some of the things that leaders like about Asset Management and we actually have it in the title of today's breakout session is
"Being able to Audit." By being able to track assets and know what's in inventory, Brian could probably do a quick audit on who has what and if those assets are functional.
Brian: Absolutely. It's given us flexibility in shifting staff because of COVID, whether it’s from hospitals to clinics or even from their offices to home, due to the stay-at-home/shelter-in-place orders.
Shea: Got it. And Jason, you said something interesting. Your end-users, who have laptops and desktops, can see when the lifecycle date is up, so they can be proactive to say, "Hey, I want this new laptop whenever my machine is up for renewal."
Jason: Yes. By leveraging their access to the portal (which has been customized with our company's branding), they can log in to the portal, and view the assets assigned to them along with their scheduled return dates.
Shea: Jason, how did you start your Asset Management Journey?
Jason: When I came into the organization in 2017, the problem I was trying to solve was to accurately forecast the budget lifecycle. Our organization was transforming from regionally siloed IT into a global organization. There were different processes and levels of maturity when it came to maintaining the asset inventory. We started by trying to solve the problem of how do we have visibility into the assets we have, and the state of their lifecycle. When I am tasked with preparing a fiscal budget for planning the spend, whether it will be Capex/Opex for the upcoming fiscal year, we have a definitive source of truth - the audit capability is what we can use to create that budget.
Shea: Brian, are those some of the main reasons that you implemented "Asset Management" as well?
Brian: Yes, I think a lot of what they are already doing is what we are dreaming about doing. We started our journey in July 2019, and in Aug 2019, we began partnering with INRY and rolled out ServiceNow HAM in December 2019. So we are pretty new to this, but it has been a dream for quite a while to do it better. We'd seen the ServiceNow presentations and felt that we got to do all those things, but we must first mature the incident, problem, and configuration management processes. We will go live with SAM in May 2002, so we are trying to get the baby up and walking. A lot of the things that Jason's talking about are the running stuff that we are looking forward to implementing and make our return on investment.
Shea: Has your Asset Management strategy changed with the recent pandemic (COVID -19)? E.g., Inventory management, Asset ownership, tracking, etc.
Brian: I think, specifically during COVID, it's given us accurate insights on what assets we have and how we are getting them out to our staff. A perfect example of that is when talking about it in one of our project meetings, a couple of the INRY guys, "Mike Hedlund" specifically and our process manager "Shekar," heard that it would be nice to know these couple of things. By the end of the afternoon, they had spun up a dashboard and more reports than we needed. It gave us an accurate insight on exactly how many laptops we had on order with a vendor, when they would be coming in, and how long it will take for us to turn them from just an HP laptop into a Mayo electronic environment device and how quickly we could get those out the door. At that point, we were sending home all administrative staff, so it allowed us to plan the number of people who will be working from home, in a phased manner and ensure that they had laptops on time. We had an accurate understanding of who has which laptop and where they live because all of that information is tied together in ServiceNow.
Shea: From an implementation perspective, you were reasonably new to Asset Management from ServiceNow, so would you say that you heavily configured the out-of-the-box (OOTB) processes, or did you leverage more OOTB?
Brian: We've made mistakes in the past with getting off the beaten trail. The non-standard code has a high hidden cost, every time you upgrade, and with our early implementation of incident, problem, and CMDB, we thought we knew better. We made a few modifications to the tables and cleaned up our technical debt so that we can effectively do Asset Management, auto-discovery, and many other things. So, if you want to save yourself a lot of money and heartache, stay OOTB. We thought we were clever and smarter than anybody else, but ServiceNow and the ServiceNow community is dialed in, and if there is something we want, we must work with ServiceNow. We will hear the same things from customers that ServiceNow will make the change, and you have to be patient because it might take six months to get it, in next or two cities release from now. They have been very proactive in listening if you have got a good idea to will put it in the base code set.
Shea: With your recent implementation, it’s good to hear that OOTB was sufficient. Maybe you added a few fields, but with the current pandemic, you were able to support your strategy and initiatives with OOTB comfortably.
Brian: I think that's why we have been able to turn it around quickly. We got funding in Jul 2019, we partnered with INRY in Aug 2019, and we had the product working in Dec 2019. We had approximately 60,000 devices that we put into production since December 2019. If we had gone and customized and tweaked things, I don't think we'll be able to do it. The other thing with OOTB is you can use a lot of the existing processes, and the documentation is online for you. We can beg, steal, and borrow, and train a large group of people after that. So, OOTB is efficient.
Shea: Jason, with the recent nature of the world, how has your Asset Management strategy changed if at all?
Jason: Well, I won't say that it changed. We've done some course correction in terms of how we tagged some of our assets, specifically loaner equipment. One of the benefits of having asset management in place is that, well before COVID forced us to stay-at-home/shelter-in-place, we began looking at our user population and the assets assigned to them. We started evaluating to see who did not have a mobile device today that might need one. So, we ran an audit to identify who doesn't have a mobile device today or has at least one mobile device or laptop. We submitted that information to the business and asked them to identify critical employees that they anticipate will need assets and used that information to pull back assets in disposition so that we can use them for these employees who didn't have laptops. It was a strategic decision to pull back assets in process for disposal, lease return, recycling, or whatever the case might be, take that inventory of machines, and, in these unique circumstances, make use of those assets.
Shea: So you are making a data-driven decision to not purchase new mobile devices but take a look at the devices being recycled and put them back into circulation to save money.
Jason: One of the things we had to do was buy additional headsets and monitors in anticipation that we would need them. We had it down to a science and were well-positioned to support our employees with laptops.
Shea: So your asset management policy and process did not change, but it validated that you were following the correct process, to begin with.
Brian: That is accurate. We used it a lot more in this short period due to the increased demand.
Shea: If you allow employees to work from home, what have you learned, and what advice would you give others as it relates to Asset Management?
Jason: We regret not having information on consumables in Asset Management, like docking stations, monitors, and headsets. We are unable to leverage asset management for those consumables, so we restricted employees from taking them home. It would have been nice for us to allow them to take the consumables home, but we were selective in making those decisions because we don't have that information in Asset Management.
Shea: So, is that something that is going to be in the roadmap for later this year?
Jason: Yes! That's what is next in our Asset Management journey.
Brian: We had employees working from home for the last 20 years, but it was a small subset of employees. We have increased those numbers by 10-fold now. Our goal is to keep employees healthy and out of the hospital, and that is why we allow them to work remotely. Knowing what we have in our inventory, what is on its way, when does it arrive, and from what vendor, will enable us to do the planning so that instead of having everyone hurry up and wait, we could provide the specific date and time when they can pick up the hardware. Now we can track who has the assets, know that employee's manager, and when the asset will come back.
Shea: Any other lessons learned from working from home?
Brian: We didn't expect to save money on HAM, and we already see savings due to the way we utilized HAM during this pandemic. It's refreshing to see that our tracking has improved, and we don't have things sitting around. Now, we can do a much better real-time inventory.
Shea: Could you elaborate on the cost savings? Is it due to the real-time inventory?
Brian: First, real-time inventory has saved costs for us. Next, the time taken to track security issues has diminished because of the available visibility. We know as soon as an asset comes in, and it is easy to check what we put on it and the costs associated with them. We do all licensing upfront and start paying for the anti-virus the same day that we put the asset into production, instead of buying the licenses a month or two ahead and keep them unused. We didn't anticipate it, but when you save a little money on 80000 workstations, it becomes a lot of savings, pretty quickly.
Shea: What were some of your biggest challenges in implementing Asset Management?
Jason: I would put it in the Organizational Change Management (OCM) bucket. So, when it came to our support organization, once we get the data loaded into Asset Management, it was the practice of maintaining and trusting that maintained data. The way we are structured, we have desktop support professionals all around the world at our client locations. Getting them to adopt the new process of tracking assets, follow, and understand the process rigorously takes time. They start realizing the benefits at least six months or a year later. So, the challenge was not so much about implementing the tool, but most of it was our OCM within IT.
Shea: What advice would you give someone as they are just starting on their Asset Management journey?
Brian: The biggest thing is OCM and getting leadership buy-in from day one. Our leadership understands that we are getting returns on our asset investments, and we have reporting to prove it. When people come to us and say, "I don't like this way of doing it, I wanna do in my unique way," the leadership supports us. Their response is, "No, you are gonna do it this institutional way because that's how Mayo Clinic is doing Asset Management now," because the leadership is saving money by using this new process. Having a single source of truth, the CMDB is like having what we call clinical grade, which is as good as our EMR, and our EMR is perfect. There has been a lot of leadership push when people want to do something unique by taking us out of the box, and they help guide push us back.
One of the key things for us has been finding a partner to help us through, and we found INRY early on. I can say with a straight face that having an implementation partner has actually saved us time and money.
Because every month, week, or year that we go on without Asset Management, it would have been an opportunity cost or opportunity lost. Engaging with a partner who's done this before saves us a lot of time and money and eliminates mistakes. The last is to stay OOTB, non-standard code is a killer, and technical debt is awful. Make sure you see this as a journey and not as a project because when your project plan is over, Asset Management will continue to go on until you shut down or implement a new product.
1. My advice would be to document the problem you are trying to solve as you solve your asset management journey and stay focused on solving that problem. Make sure you are clear about the problem.
2. Understand and document the process involved and make sure that it is communicated and adopted across the broader organization. It helps with the OCM aspect to have everyone understand the process and have the document associated with the process to improve adoption.
Shea: What's next on your Asset Management journey? E.g., SAM, enrichment, process improvement?
Jason: Today, we are tracking laptops and desktop with Asset Management. Next on our roadmap, is bringing consumables and mobile devices under Asset Management. Today, we use a couple of different data sources to bring into our CMDB and maintain it, and among them is Configuration Manager. We are planning to leverage Microsoft Graph API to start pulling information into CMDB. We can subsequently use CMDB data for mobile devices for Asset Management.
Brian: Actually, we would like to go live with SAM in May 2020. Getting that process out of the door and making sure that the tool is configured correctly is our next big challenge. Beyond that, it's to continue core data normalization. We are planning to implement auto-discovery and the catalog request process. The last thing is to continue to save money and make the data auditable and accurate.