One of the critical processes on the minds of many IT organizations is asset management. This includes managing an asset through the entire lifecycle:

  • Leasing
  • Maintenance contracts
  • Cost allocation

With a disciplined approach to asset management, IT departments can build a reliable, precise, centralized collection of data on assets and their associated costs. This empowers IT managers to make better tactical and strategic decisions, and to derive the most value from their IT investments.

Getting everyone on board
The goals and objectives of an asset management project should be developed in a cross-functional setting. It is vital to understand the needs of all stakeholders in the project. In order to clearly define and prioritize objectives, and to develop the procedures to realize those objectives, there must be clear communication between the corporate IT department and the corporate finance department.

Implementing an effective asset management solution begins with an assessment of what data, if any, is currently being gathered about an enterprise’s assets, how that data is maintained, and what information sources are accessed to maintain it. From this assessment, processes and procedures must be developed and implemented to populate the repository and communicate moves, adds, and changes to the repository. It is important to understand that asset management is process-based before it is technology-based. No matter how many features an asset management tool may have, it will have little or no value if its data is inaccurate.

Once the roles and responsibilities of the initiative are defined (people), and the procedural issues are addressed (process), the asset management tools can be installed and initially populated with data (technology).

Two distinct approaches
Asset tracking tools: Also called “auto-discovery” tools, these software packages gather data about IT assets via the LAN and compile them on a server. The tracking tool can discover data about the desktop itself, as well as data about the software installed on the desktop. The emphasis of tracking tools is on getting “live” data from the enterprise in order to have the timeliest information about the state of the infrastructure.

Asset repository tools: The repository is a powerful database tool that unifies asset data with data that cannot be found through auto-discovery. The repository becomes the source of data for trend analysis, cost of ownership analysis, contractual compliance monitoring, and procurement decision-making. The emphasis of repository tools is on statically defining what the enterprise should be and on serving as a point of reference against the tracking tool’s “live” data to identify deviance from standard.

These tools are sometimes found as elements of an integrated framework such as:

  • Tivoli TME 10
  • CA-Unicenter
  • HP OpenView

Or they may be part of a best-of-breed point solution, including:

  • Peregrine’s AssetCenter repository
  • Janus’ Argis-repository
  • Tally’s NetCensus-tracking
  • Tangram’s Asset Insight-tracking

The key factors for choosing asset management tools will be unique for each organization, but you should typically focus on issues like compatibility with your organization’s current infrastructure and defining the specific cost-savings goals.

In order for your IT organization to manage its enterprise effectively, you must:

  1. Know what your enterprise looks like.
  2. Know what you want your enterprise to look like.
  3. Understand the difference between the two. A successful asset management implementation is fundamental in realizing this objective.

Wally Waltner is the senior subject matter expert on asset management for Synet Service Corporation. Based out of Minneapolis, Wally is recognized as a Certified Applications Engineer for Peregrine Systems’ AssetCenter software through its Solution Partner Alliance. In addition, the Software and Information Industry Association recognizes him as a Certified Software Manager.

What’s the most effective asset management tool you’ve used? Post a comment below or send us an idea for future articles.