When TechRepublic member Howard Taylor, CEO of TSP Companies in Duluth, GA, saw his IT staff walking from office to office trying to account for a number of leased laptops, he stopped them in their tracks. Why weren’t they utilizing the asset management software he’d just purchased to track the laptops?

Taylor was sure that when he bought a program called LANutil32 Suite from Vector Networks Inc. that it had the ability to locate the computers, even if the hardware was outside the building.

“One of the guys set it up [so] that when anybody logged on, no matter where they were, LANutil32 would actually identify a remote logon source. The company now knows where it is, and we managed to find all the missing laptops,” he said.

Taylor doesn’t spend money on technology unless it will solve specific business problems for his company. He applies this tough standard to every purchase.

“If the technology is solving the problems I’ve got and it’s cost-effective, I’ll pass it to the IT guys and say I want to buy this. You’d better have a very good reason why I shouldn’t,” he said. “Otherwise, these are my problems. Come up with a solution.”

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When it comes to software, Taylor has some experience in evaluating a program’s worth. TSP Companies is an international software company incubator. “We find products from companies overseas and we market them in this country under the name of the supplier.”

In this article, Taylor will discuss how asset management software is helping his company not only keep track of hardware but also control the costs of hardware leases and software upgrades.

Defining the problem or problems
Taylor’s involvement with asset management software began with a couple of problems tracking hardware, software, and software licenses. After he purchased LANutil32 Suite, he discovered the software addressed several other challenges his company is facing, including:

  • Finding illegally installed or unlicensed software on company equipment.
  • Keeping track of all company hardware and software.
  • Tracking where equipment is and if it is being used.
  • Keeping tabs on leased equipment.
  • Finding equipment that needs new or upgraded software.
  • Comparing equipment in-house with equipment owned by a company being considered for acquisition.

What’s a problem worth?
Sometimes it is easy to place a value on how a piece of equipment or a software program can save money for your company. Taylor has had experience in what happens when a company loses track of its assets.

Taylor once worked for a company that lost track of a significant asset—a patent it had filed five years earlier. The company applied for the same patent a second time, and the Patent Office turned the company down because it already owned the patent.

“They spent close to $20 million redeveloping something they already had. That’s a real-life technological reason why people should investigate and see what they’ve already got,” Taylor said.

In his current job, the asset management software showed Taylor where TSP Companies had wasted money. Fortunately, the amount of money TSP Companies had wasted was significantly less than the money wasted by his former employer.

As an example, the purchasing person at TSP Companies bought a 10-user license for some pricey software. But Taylor couldn’t imagine the company had that many people who needed to use that software.

“We did some investigation on how many places it had been installed, and it had been installed in only four places. We could have bought a five-user pack,” Taylor said. “Trust me; I discussed that with the purchasing person.”

Saving money justified the program’s purchase
Taylor originally bought the asset management software for his company for two reasons:

  1. He has a number of people working in his company who are not employees, but they use company equipment. He wanted an easy way to enforce his ban on unlicensed software on company machines.
  2. The accounting department at TSP Companies wanted to know information about the company’s assets.

“One of the things that concerned me was that techies are kind of prone to walk around with somebody else’s software in their pocket and then install it on their [own] equipment,” Taylor said. “So we were looking for something that, on a regular basis, could tell us what’s installed on any particular PC. Then, we compare that with what’s supposed to be installed and what we are licensed to install.”

This should be a concern for companies, large and small. On March 5, 2001, the Business Software Alliance, a watchdog group representing the software industry, announced that it had settled claims against eight California companies that had unlicensed copies of software on their company workstations. The settlements ranged from $33,000 to $90,000 per company and totaled $512,000.

That may be one reason Taylor’s CPAs want him to account for all software and hardware in the company. Asset management software tracks where everything is and if it is being used.

Less-obvious cost savings
There are a number of ways that Taylor has found to save his business money through the use of the asset management software. Take a look at some of the other, less obvious, benefits he has garnered from the LANutil32 program suite.

Tracking leased equipment
Taylor’s company is like many others in that it leases equipment, which must be paid for if it is lost. If you keep equipment after the lease expires, the lease agreement often rolls over, and you are stuck with old equipment and possibly a more costly contract.

The LANutil32 asset management program allows IT managers to embed information, like leasing data, within the operating system of every computer.

Forecasting the effects of business decisions
Asset management software can also help a company calculate how much a business decision might cost. Taylor was considering changing to an accounting system that would integrate sales force functions into the system.

Because of the system’s requirements, Taylor’s IT staff didn’t have to open up a bunch of computers to see if they could handle these requirements. The LANutil32 program told him they could.

Taylor’s bottom line
Overall, Taylor is pleased with the value he has received from the LANutil32 suite of programs. The price of the software runs from $164 per seat for less than 24 seats to as little as $26 per seat for more than 10,000 seats.
Do you know where your computers are? Can you say with certainty that you have no illegal copies of software on any of your machines? What are your thoughts about asset management software? Share your views by joining the discussion below or send us a note.