IT Asset Management – the benefits of having company assets under control
Efficiency and saving. This could be an extremely synthetic answer to the question “What are the benefits of IT Asset Management?”, but let’s look at it in detail.
Why we speak about IT Asset Management
IT asset management (ITAM) is the set of business practices that join financial, contractual and inventory functions to support life cycle management and strategic decision making for the IT environment. Assets include all elements of software and hardware that are found in the business environment. (def. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IT_asset_management)
IT Asset Management indicates all the activity carried out for a correct mapping and management of IT assets (both software and hardware), integrating different solutions between different departments with a macro objective that of creating value for the company.
The majority of companies have the need to renew their technology and invest in IT, but it is maybe not completely clear how and maybe even why.
The business market is divided into two big categories:
- Traditional: it has been always been done like that; it has always worked: many are changing now because it is fashionable, if we free up some space everything will be better.
- Innovative: the market will continue to evolve and the only way to be competitive is renewal. Ever since they tried to block the car “fashion” in the United Kingdom with the Locomotive Act in 1865 otherwise known as the Red Flag Act which stated a man waving a red flag had to walk in front of all automobiles, it has been evident that “fashions” became part of life
Ignoring, or worse still, blocking innovation is like ignoring life.
The world is relentlessly accelerating towards the valorisation of ideas..
3D printers which were science fiction-like ideas for children in the last century, are now an evolving reality. New ideas that require a Time to Market as immediate as possible. The only way to shorten Time to Market is to use IT technology.
After the invention of mobile phones, a telephone which was a computer, camera, radio, TV etc. arrived before the masses could even imagine it. This is an efficient Time to Market! We believe that this acceleration will continue and therefore it is necessary to guarantee that all company’s IT is not only adequate and performing, but considered an integral part of business of the company on a par with the personnel; or rather it is considered to be the same has human capacity. The man-machine interaction is not even to be considered “innovation” but a fact.
Why is it legitimate for a director to expect the best from his human resources but not from his IT staff?
Why are people assigned goals, while IT is asked what it is able to do to help reach a goal?
And so why should a company worry about getting the best from each Human Resource, trying carefully to put them in the best working conditions possible, giving incentives, creating work groups which are able to integrate in the best possible way, etc. … should they not do the same with the IT resources?
The answer is maybe they are still trying to put the famous “man with the red flag” in front of innovation and between the interaction man-machine.
IT Asset Management, or rather, IT Governance in general, moves the role of IT from “IT Resource” to “Business Resource”. As a business resource, it is on a par with a “human”, it has to be managed, valorised and evaluated. And so if they are prepared to pay a certain amount of Euros for a designer, they must have the possibility to evaluate performance, with interviews, check projects done, etc. so that their contribution helps the company reach an appropriate income.
IT Asset Management is the instrument which permits me to understand which (IT) resources are required, how my (IT) resources work, how much my (IT) resources really cost, what critical issues/problems my (IT) resources have and whether they give the expected contribution to the aim of reaching “appropriate income”.
In the absence of information, it is only possible to make IT decisions based on a “sensation” or on progressive experience (if there is any). It is not uncommon that companies define their “standard” for IT acquisitions based on a medium market technological level.
With adequate information, however, one can identify critical business lines served by determined IT assets for which it is better to aim for top-level acquisitions, while for other less critical business functions, aim for appropriate levels but by making economic savings to satisfy the more critical business.
The absence of this process sometimes leads to mistaken investments which lead to vicious circles where IT is relegated to the sad role of “necessary costs” rather than “investment for business”. As with HR investments, IT investments must be carefully evaluated, measured and examined for their value in terms of ROI.
From these observations it is clear to see the reasons why companies should integrate an IT management strategy with long term vision to strengthen competitiveness in answer to the market requirements.
Who is responsible?
Following the parallels made between HR and IT, as an HR Manager answers to the top management, it would be ideal, as many companies have already done, to establish the figure of Asset Manager. A figure able to identify and implement necessary strategies and consolidate business requirements with the IT resources available.
Where this figure is absent, the IT manager is the most suitable figure for the role, that is, if they are able to “lift their head and see the business” they work so closely with.
However Asset management should interest top level management on a par with other resources (HR) which contribute to business. Profitable management and global competitiveness of the whole company depend on healthy resources (HR and IT).
The advantages of IT Asset Management
We have learnt that a company made up of capable people, who are able to work as a team and who are above all motivated, create great benefits. In the same manner IT:
- capable (match needs/macchine);
- competent (market analysis available/custom developments);
- which work as a team (…interconnected to the business);
- motivated (…business goals defined for each IT process) also bring great benefits.
A healthy and efficient system of IT Asset Management coherent with business objectives permits:
- Reduction of risks (critical checks and proper calibration of systems).
- Cost cutting (more efficient management of IT resources thanks to a correct management of maintenance interventions or substitution of assets).
- Improvement of IT performance (control of burden, mapping of critical routes, etc…).
- Tracing of interventions (knowledge of inter-relationships between assets permits the identification of “problems” for each operation programmed/proposed and to plan them correctly and without unexpected risks).
- Tracing of performance (the efficiency of systems can be checked and any evolution planned)