The importance of IT Asset Lifecycle Management
In today’s business environment, where some industries are performing well while others are struggling (e.g., oil, gas, mining retail), it is essential for companies to keep tight control of their IT spend to ensure that it is optimized. If possible, it is also important to avoid costs so the spend can be allocated to new technological investments.
a result, it has become even more important for IT decision makers to be aware of the IT assets that are operating within their networks so they don’t risk overspending. Many C-level executives are well aware of this need. However, with the abundance of solutions now readily available on the market that address specific problems but not the entire asset lifecycle, organisations are searching for a one-stop-shop solution to solve their problems.
By having an understanding of the benefits that a complete end-to-end solution can provide, CIOs, CFO’s and chief security officers (CSO’s) will be better able to address the issues they are facing (many unknowingly) within their particular organisation.
In light of this, here are three key areas where an advanced ITAM solution can help any organisation address issues and manage its IT infrastructure more effectively.
Optimise Licence Management
For most technology investments, IT departments should be building in a plan to replace or upgrade each piece of software when the purchase decision is being made. Planning this decision early in the lifecycle can eliminate the build-up of technical debt later in the lifecycle when it is even harder to retire or move off of an old application or platform.
This is usually a relatively simple task when it comes to upgrading to a new a platform or operating system, such as Windows 10. However, with some applications like those used in datacentres, it can become a difficult and expensive proposition, since applications like these are usually a combination of packaged and bespoke code. They could possibly even be open source code, designed to fit the requirements of a specific organisation.
Consequently, any required changes to these apps will be bespoke. As the value of these apps degrades over time when newer technology or application come to market, it can become difficult to plan and implement upgrades to add new capabilities. On the other hand, if managed properly, the company can avoid facing any technical issues or unscheduled costs associated with adding new licenses, upgrades or replacements.
Understanding the lifecycle of all owned IT assets enables organisations to better manage the upgrade or replacement process. With the right data and tools with visibility and dashboard reporting, enterprises can reduce the disruption of software audits and negotiate new contracts from a position of strength. Having a solution in place offers complete visibility of assets, licence agreements, warranties, support level, supplier roadmap, and upgrade requirements across a department and the wider business.
Avoiding Application Bloat
Another issue that can occur (if the application lifecycle process is not being managed properly) is that an organisation can be left in the dark regarding what is actually happening on their network. For example, it is a well-known fact that internal customers and business users are often guilty of using up budget to buy their own applications, without knowing or checking if their organisations may already have existing applications in-house that can meet their needs. This is a particular challenge with easily accessible cloud-based apps.
The result is that an organisation can end up having a number of applications across the business that have identical capabilities and functionality, but aren’t cleared for use and aren’t being managed by the technology asset management team. This trend is known as “application bloat” and requires evaluating the software portfolio on a regular basis to reduce app redundancy.
Good asset management reduces this type of overlap which is often seen happening between cloud services and on-premises apps. We have seen application bloat happening across all sectors, with companies wasting budget on solutions that are already available and could be used in other departments. Every IT professional is aware of this IT overlap issue, however, many may not understand that cloud-based solutions may be overlapping with what’s already on premises. In addition, this could create a potential security risk because they are not part of the organisation’s standard, security-approved list of applications
To stop this from happening, IT needs a complete view of all IT assets across the whole organisation and over all platforms. This capability is available in best of breed IT Asset Management solutions that provide the capability to manage and dictate the asset investment to ensure that there is no wasted budget and that it is used to promote innovation.
Addressing the Skill Shortage
One of the issues facing organisations today is that even when an organisation has an asset management solution in place, there is a noticeable skill shortage in the IT workforce which impacts the management of the solution. It has become harder to recruit high level professionals that possess the data, analytical and licensing skill in the marketplace. This has an impact on the ability of businesses to make the necessary decisions quickly when it comes to analysing the data about spend and risk.
With advanced IT Asset Management (ITAM) solutions, users are provided with automated information, which alleviates the need for the specific levels of skills within the team. The right information is provided in real time, so IT teams are supplied with the data that will help them make the right decisions, rather than having to perform time consuming analyses to draw out the required data. As the tools get smarter, they will embed policy and artificial intelligence that can automatically make decisions based upon prior rules and knowledge the organisation establishes.
To reap these benefits, companies should implement a comprehensive ITAM tool that can create a central hub to provide essential information like software licenses, contracts, warranties, service-level agreements, and asset use by department.
Owning this type of readily available data, asset managers will be empowered to make more efficient and rapid business decisions. Effective ITAM solutions will also provide the ability to track and maintain hardware and software assets through their entire lifecycle, reclaim unused licenses, manage vendors and contracts, and even cut costs to free up cost allocations in the IT budget. Considering these areas will help all conscientious and forward-thinking organisations achieve their goals for optimising their IT infrastructure management capabilities against a realistic budget.
About Patricia Adams
Patricia Adams is an industry expert who has more than 21 years of experience at Gartner. As a research director for Gartner, she was the lead analyst for IT hardware and software asset management tools and best practices. Her research coverage area included midrange tape storage, CMDB, change management, dependency mapping tools, discovery tool, and ITIL. Throughout it all, her primary focus was advising companies on how to establish governance programs unique to their organizations, build the business case for ITAM, measure the success of the program, design policies, define roles and responsibilities, implement tools, and build a strategic road map for integrating ITAM into other domains.
Adams spoke annually with federal, state, and local governments, as well as hundreds of companies across industries (e.g., higher education, healthcare, manufacturing, financial services) ranging from 1000 employees to global organizations that treated ITAM as a shared service and needed advice on centralizing the program. Her advice was especially relevant to organizations that needed an effective life-cycle management strategy that met organization and regulatory requirements.
While at Gartner, Adams developed the first Gartner TCO model for storage and the ground breaking IT Asset Management Maturity model in 2001, which has been leveraged by many customers and vendors.