Computer systems are often loaded with information and resources to protect. In a business these may include accounting, human resources, management, sales, research, inventory, distribution, factory, and research system information. For many businesses, the heart of their work is contained in databases and the programs that retrieve information from them. Is your organization set-up to protect these assets? Is your organization set-up to replace these assets when needed (see article on fixing or replacing computers).
Frequently inventory of an organization’s operating systems begins and ends with an outdated spreadsheet. However, to maintain system effieciency and protect these assets a personal IT asset-management plan is needed. An IT asset-management plan begins with a hardware and software inventory that is lodged in an enterprise-wide database, and continues by tracking new purchases and migrations of equipment around the organization – right up to disposal time. A more efficient approach is to use inventory technology. Most CIOs are drawn to asset management as a way to control IT costs, incorporate new technology and maximize the use of existing IT equipment (see article on when to fix or replace a computer).
Any company that owns a collection of PCs, software and printers probably needs to manage these assets more cost effectively. Somewhat belatedly, companies are realizing that an inventory of the ever-changing bits and gigabytes of far-flung global organizations is a smart administrative tool. We have has come up with a stream of reasons why asset management is essential and how to set a plan in motion.
For one, the fixed-asset accounting systems designed for equipment with five-year depreciation cycles are an anachronism in today’s volatile environment, where PCs and other IT equipment have two- to three-year depreciation cycles, get frequently upgraded and can be shifted rapidly through an organization, slipping from one cost center to another.
“Organizations across the world with large amounts of equipment have come to recognize that they need to do something beyond just work with the fixed-asset systems that were designed for office chairs and drill presses,” says President Jason Mayor. What is more, with the advent of telecommuting, many of these assets – from laptop computers to mobile phones – are not fixed at all, but float outside the organization’s walls.
Other complexities to overseeing IT inventory is the sheer volume of a company’s IT inventory and the knowledge it requires to understand the different technology, especially as organizations expand into new geographies, and the nature of the equipment itself. Taking a single PC as an example, in the beginning it was thought of as just a single-priced box. Today, it is a composite of components and costs that can vary over the life of the device: expanded memory, network interface cards, modems, scanners and printing devices, to name a few. “All these components together form the investment, the money that is tied up in the equipment that we are trying to reach out with asset management and manage,” says Mayor.
In the past year, as client/server computing has become more pervasive, the need for asset management has reached critical mass. The launch of Window 8 Workstation has made it apparent to a lot of companies that without an asset management strategy in place, there is no easy way to evaluate what the consequences of a major migration might be. A good asset management tool should be part of an overall strategy that: 1. tracks moves, changes, and deletions automatically, 2. encompasses the entire enterprise cohesively, 3. assists with software distribution and hardware deployment, 4. gives control of software use at the desktop level to the network manager, 5. manages software licenses, 6. integrates asset management with procurement, and 7. feeds data to help desks, and 8. insure sufficient insurance coverage.