Protecting Your Assets

Protecting Your Assets

If your organization is one of the many that need to do some remedial work in the area of lifecycle management, here’s a look at some of the things you need to know.

Ninety-nine per cent of companies her organization comes across don't have a proper asset management process in place, according to Elisabeth Vanderveldt, VP of business development, with Canada-based IT services and consulting firm Conamex International Solutions. That's a staggering number, considering the value that lifecycle management can bring to an organization. And it's indicative of the widespread lack of respect for this important aspect of IT operations.

If your organization is one of the many that need to do some remedial work in this area, here's a look at some of the things you need to know.

The ideal time to start considering an asset management program is before the business and its IT infrastructure is even up and running, but the common scenario is that corporations look to asset management after they've encountered a problem running the infrastructure. This is the view of Don Barry, associate partner in global business services in the supply chain operations and asset management solutions with IBM.

But he allows that businesses' mentality around asset management is evolving. Companies used to solely consider reliability, availability and overall equipment effectiveness in that equation. But now, he said, there is recognition of factors like continuing pressures on cost and green technology.

"It really requires a mature organization to understand what's going to be needed to assess and execute a lifecycle management strategy," he said.

Why is a lifecycle management program important? For one thing, it puts IT in much better control of its assets, and this can have a number of benefits.

"IT can make really intelligent decisions around what they should get rid of, and they might even find they have more money in the budget and they can start taking a look at newer technology and see if they can bring it in-house. Without that big picture, they just end up spending more and more money than had they been proactive," said Vanderveldt.

Lifecycle management also has value as a risk management tool and it aids in the disaster recovery process as well, she added. "It's also beneficial for those moments that are just completely out of your control, like mergers, acquisitions, and uncontrolled corporate growth, either organic or inorganic," said Darin Stahl, lead research analyst with Info-Tech Research Group. "IT leaders without this toolset are now charged with pulling all this information together on short notice. That could be diminished considerably in terms of turnaround time and effort for IT guys if they have a holistic asset management program in place."

What's the best way to introduce a lifecycle management program? "In the end, a real holistic way takes into account the procurement side - ordering and who's actually doing the ordering, vendor management, standardizing on the vendors," said Stahl. And then it needs to go down into finance, which determines if the company is taking into account any leasing management, depreciation, residual values, and tax issues, he said.

"Once these things are in the door, that's when the real costs start to pile up for assets because it's about running them, configuration and control, maintenance and tracking, licenses, integration with security, standardized images, what's on the machine, what's running. That kind of stuff will allow you from an IT perspective to become process efficient and lower your costs," said Stahl.

"Lastly, you want to be able to look at all of this data in a holistic fashion to do budget reporting, performance analysis, and strategic planning not just from an asset and financial capitalization perspective, but really from business value."

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