According to Don Barry, associate partner in global business services in the supply chain operations and asset management solutions with IBM, 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 corporations will look to asset management after they've encountered a problem running the infrastructure.
The drivers are mostly economic, and indicative of current operational issues, said Barry. And, it can also be environmental, "if I've got something playing a certain role, how do I continue to expand that role?"
But businesses' mentality around asset management is evolving. Companies used to consider solely reliability, availability and overall equipment effectiveness in that equation. But now, said Barry, there is recognition of factors like continuing pressures on cost and green technology, for instance.
"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?
Elisabeth Vanderveldt, vice-president of business development, with IT services and consulting firm Conamex International Solutions, said, "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."
"It's a full cycle, it's also a risk management tool and a disaster recovery process as well," said Vanderveldt.
Darin Stahl, lead research analyst with Info-Tech Research Group, said, "It's also beneficial for those moments that are just completely out of your control like mergers, acquisitions, uncontrolled corporate growth either organic or inorganic. 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?
Stahl said, "In the end, a real holistic way [by the IT department] takes into account the procurement side -- ordering and who's actually doing the ordering, vendor management, standardizing on the vendors. And then it needs to go down into finance who asks if the company is taking into account any leasing management, depreciation, residual values, tax issues." "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."
"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." Vanderveldt said, "You have to find a buy-in from the CIO or CFO because it is a process that's going to end up, upfront, having some time costs associated with it. Ninety-nine percent of companies we come across don't have a proper asset management process in place. It starts with the education and realization that the server, for instance, is running your business and the minute it goes down, you're going to put yourself in an unbelievable risk."