Picture this: You’ve been happily married for 10 years. You have two delightful, young children, four fairly new vehicles in your garage, and you belong to three country clubs, even though you haven’t played golf in years. Your garage and spare bedroom are stuffed to the ceiling with hobbies you’ve lost interest in, though you are still paying the hefty insurance premium on your Persian rug collection. Life is good, except that you are spending 20 percent more every month than you are earning. Everyone is telling you it’s time you did something about it (notably your bank manager). So, what can you do about it?
The Logical Solution
The logical solution is, of course, to kick out your spouse, dump the kids, buy another car–you’ve always fancied a Corvette or maybe a Harley–and live on baked beans.
OK, so maybe that’s not the best answer . . .
Transport yourself magically to your office–the IT department of a large organization. The company’s board of directors has decided that the company’s IT expenditure is getting out of hand–something has to be cut. With all due respect to bean-counters, that usually means they come up with an arbitrary figure–a percentage of the budget or a number of dollars–by which the IT expenditure must be reduced.
If you look around the computer room (or whatever the trendy term is for that this week), you’ll see a load of equipment you never use, but on which you still pay maintenance, power, air conditioning, etc. Equipment falls out of use but it never gets disconnected. However, when the time comes to cut costs, experienced staff, as well as staff who are getting trained to the point of being some use, get fired. Or, the inexperienced staff member gets the job of keeping the place running. So, now the place doesn’t run properly, and the bills get bigger, leading to another round of self-immolation next year.
Getting fired/dehired/retrenched/ made redundant doesn’t feel good no matter what you call it. However, because it is easier to identify what a person does rather than what many of your IT assets do, that’s where the cutting tends to start.
Those of us in IT can accept the blame for much of this problem—we’re simply not good at keeping tabs on what we use and don’t use. This article will examine some sane ways in which IT costs can be kept under control while continuing to deliver a decent service to our various users. I promise not to use the kind of technical terms that accountants use, so please don’t bale out. As far as this article is concerned, you’re either paying for something or you aren’t, and to heck with TCO, ROI, DCF, and PDR (I made one of them up).
IT Asset Management in Practice
IT asset management has three main aims. First, we need to find out what assets—people, equipment, software licenses—are in place. Sorry if you take offense at being described as an “asset”— it’s better than being described as a “liability.” Once we have identified our assets, we need to locate them to make sure they really do still exist. Then, we should make sure those assets are acquired and maintained under the best possible terms. Finally, we need to establish a process to identify and record when an asset is no longer in use and then either dispose of it or redeploy it.