A controlling influence.

Author:Moriarty, Stephen
Position:Managing information technology assets

Duplication of effort can make it difficult, if not impossible, to get to grips with your IT assets. The logical solution to this problem, according to Stephen Moriarty, is to improve your infrastructure management

One of the problems with problems is that they tend to creep up on you. Time passes, things develop and change, and a situation that was manageable gradually transforms into one that is out of control. Usually by the time anyone realises what is going on, things have got to a state where it is hard even to work out exactly what the problem is, let alone find a sensible (and affordable) solution to it.

With the development of technology and the proliferation of IT equipment and systems, this is the situation faced by many organisations. The problem that is emerging, of growing concern to financial managers, is that it is almost impossible to get an accurate, up-to-date picture of all an organisation's IT and other assets.

It's not that there are no asset management systems in place -- rather that there are too many. There is the fixed assets management system, under the control of the finance department. This can provide information about the tangible assets of an organisation, calculate depreciation where appropriate, and report on financial values. Facilities managers, whose focus is maintenance, health and safety and procurement, have their own systems. Then there is the IT department, which has systems to deal with configuration management, software licensing, software and hardware upgrades, asset tracking, help desk, and many others.

With multiple systems like these, you inevitably end up with duplicate, redundant or conflicting information. Organisations pay a heavy price for this, both financial and managerial. According to some estimates, companies are overspending by as much as 20 per cent because of inefficient maintenance, unnecessary purchasing and petty theft of assets -- not to mention payment of hefty insurance premiums on non-existent items.

Often, the full extent of a problem is hidden until an audit, merger or flotation reveals a frightening lack of information about an organisation's assets -- one only has to think of the millennium dome, for example.

Having identified the problem, however, the solution quickly becomes dear. What is needed is a single, enterprise-wide system that can be used for all aspects of asset management. Information about everything owned by the company -- fixed assets, inventory items...

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