Feature

How to manage your assets and control business costs

Asset lifecycle management allows the IT department to improve governance, mitigate risk and improve service quality and efficiency.

Without an investment in IT asset lifecycle management people, process and technology, there is no way you can credibly answer questions about the IT assets of your organisation.

IT departments need information on what assets they have, where they are, who is using them, the services they support, what they cost and how they are configured. They must also be able to ascertain whether the business is compliant, the value the IT assets deliver and whether the company is fully exploiting its IT assets.

With the millions spent and planning to be spent on IT, coupled with heightened expectations from the business, a lack of proper IT asset lifecycle management is no longer acceptable. This is increasingly important as do-more-with-less efficiency mandates are prioritised, supplier software audits and compliance initiatives increase and the business places greater focus on what IT costs and the value internal IT delivers.

Asset lifecycle management can provide detailed information on software license compliance

To address these challenges and pressures, IT managers are striving to improve how they manage IT assets throughout their lifecycle. This is a tall order because the term “asset” has an expansive definition including: business applications and software (enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems such as SAP or personal productivity tools such as Microsoft Office), datacentre infrastructure (server, mainframe, storage and network), user computing infrastructure (PCs, tablets, mobile devices and telephony) and branch office technologies (switches, routers, servers and printers).

The technical, financial and service-related information available from an IT asset lifecycle management programme can allow IT managers to improve efficiency and effectiveness and to optimise its investment (or divestment) in its asset base. It provides a comprehensive view of the resources feeding IT service delivery and an assurance that best use is made of its assets. By investing in IT asset lifecycle management people, process and technology, IT managers can cut costs, reduce risk and improve the quality of IT services

Managing costs

Asset management provides the organisation with information on how IT funds are invested and how these investments are performing. This not only helps with running current projects but can make it easier to fund new ones. IT organisations can use this intelligence to improve total cost of ownership (TCO ) by continuously reducing IT asset costs throughout their lifecycle. Moreover, IT asset lifecycle management allows IT managers to take a service-centric approach to IT management decisions that can result in additional savings by scaling back or fully removing low value services altogether.

Improving governance

By conducting IT asset lifecycle management, an IT organisation can enhance the governance of its IT assets through a common management and control mechanism across all domains. For example, organisations can use an integrated information set and a consistent knowledge base for decision-making around IT infrastructure investment or divestment. As IT infrastructure is the foundation for planned IT capability, it is also important to have an asset repository that reflects the current ability of IT assets to enable future projects or support consolidation and cost reductions.

Mitigating risk

One of the principal benefits of optimised IT asset lifecycle management is improved risk management, as it tracks assets during their entire lifecycle (which includes creation, acquisition, use, maintenance and decommissioning and/or disposal). By understanding the state an asset is in, the IT organisation can coordinate a variety of processes, such as checking utilisation for capacity planning or removing sensitive data before assets are disposed of. This not only mitigates data privacy risks but also avoids the fee charged by IT asset disposal service providers to process end-of-life assets.

Risk management also includes the management of the physical failure of assets (particularly when sweated during times of limited asset investment) and is related to capacity management and disaster recovery.

Ensuring compliance

IT asset lifecycle management, when encompassing software assets, can provide detailed information on software license compliance or compliance with other regulations, such as security or environmental regulations. Failure to meet licensing rules or regulatory performance requirements can result in costly fines — which are often dwarfed by the potential risk to your organisation’s reputation.

Making IT green

IT professionals are increasingly tasked with moving their organisations from green IT awareness to action.

Forrester recommends creating a green IT baseline as the first step. Why? Because the age-old adage that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” is relevant to any IT project, green or not. IT asset lifecycle management tools can help to create an accurate baseline by accounting for all IT assets both within and outside of the datacentre. From there, IT professionals can calculate the energy-related consumption, costs and carbon-dioxide emissions of operating their IT. This data will offer a practical green IT starting point, by exposing your most ecotaxing assets.

Conversely, without it, you can not accurately quantify and report the benefits of your greening efforts to internal and external stakeholders. Improving organisational efficiency IT asset lifecycle management ultimately allows IT to run a tighter ship. It is more than just managing costs; it’s about doing the right thing.

While hardware and software expenditure control is important, so is how the IT organisation conducts itself in the IT asset lifecycle management framework and the larger context of IT operations. Having fit-for-purpose policies, processes, procedures and enabling technology will help ensure the non-financial resources applied to IT asset lifecycle management are also used optimally.

Delivering higher-quality IT service

Having a better understanding of what assets are used where and for what purpose (especially if servicealigned) can dramatically improve IT’s ability to operate a number of information technology infrastructure library (ITIL)-espoused IT service management processes such as incident, problem and change management. There are also obvious links to configuration and capacity management in terms of knowing more about the IT estate.

Better alignment with business

Knowing what assets cost and their remaining economical life through effective IT financial and service portfolio management allows the IT organisation to better understand whether its investment of available IT funds is optimally aligned with business needs. Likewise, IT asset lifecycle management intelligence is not just specific to the asset management roles within the IT organisation, such as software asset managers or hardware asset managers. Many different roles across the enterprise can make use of IT asset lifecycle management intelligence.

An effective IT asset lifecycle management implementation (or adoption) requires a disciplined approach. It needs to enable an enterprise to maximise value and deliver its strategic objectives through the management of its IT assets throughout their entire lifecycle. IT asset lifecycle management requires the monitoring, controlling and accounting of assets over time and should be an embedded part of the overall service support and service delivery processes in IT.


Picture Credit: Thinkstock


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This was first published in October 2012

 

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