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SmartAdvice: It's Time For CA To Focus On Product Improvement

Computer Associates has to move beyond its accounting turmoil and focus on competitive performance to stay viable, The Advisory Council says. Also, look for integration with current products when buying asset-management software, and treat developing a disaster-recovery plan as a project and devote some resources to creating it.

Question B: What attributes and features should we consider when selecting IT asset-management software?

Our advice: Effective information-technology management requires a strong focus on asset management. Asset-management software tools should not only help in keeping an accurate inventory of IT assets, but also in identifying and tracking costs, managing asset acquisition, and reporting. The cost of implementing and maintaining the asset-management software is, of course, a selection consideration. Ease of installation and use are also key factors in a successful, cost-effective implementation.

IT Asset Management
IT organizations are constantly faced with justifying spending and providing cost-effective services to their users. In some enterprises there may be an explicit charge-back mechanism; in others, IT services may be a part of overall corporate expenses. In either case, the ability to manage IT assets, including hardware, software media, and licenses, is seen as key to managing costs.

Related Links

International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers

Information Systems Strategy and Implementation Case Study

Proper IT asset management is reflective not only of good IT management, but also of prudent corporate governance.

Considerations for implementing asset-management software include:

  • Integration with existing infrastructure. Leveraging existing investments in databases, operating systems, discovery tools, and presentation or monitoring tools is key to a cost-effective deployment. Most vendors offer such features, but the evaluation should focus on ease of integration. The tool should be able to use and communicate with the existing infrastructure with minimal reengineering.

  • Integration with configuration and change management, IT investment decision support, forecasting tools, etc.

  • Solving a defined problem. An evaluation of existing practices and problem areas should be undertaken, and gaps understood, before product evaluation. The major areas where IT requires asset management are:
    • Base hardware (computers, storage, peripherals)

    • Hardware upgrades and add-ons

    • Software licenses
  • Providing an end-to-end solution for managing the request, acquisition, tracking, cost and depreciation, allocation, and retirement of assets.

  • Cost of software versus cost savings and avoidance. The asset-management application and its implementation will have its own introduction and maintenance costs. These costs should be weighed against the potential of loss to poorly managed software licensing, hardware assets, etc.

Staged Rollout
In implementing asset management, a staged approach is important to success. Client organizations should be involved early, and be able to see the benefits of proper IT asset management. The tool should be staged to client business units, and adopted across the enterprise in progression. If the preliminary analysis of business practices reveals a varied and complex business process, the approach should be to implement realistic components, and add functionality over time.

-- Humayun Beg

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