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Best practices in hardware asset management

Bruce Harpham | June 2, 2016
Several trends are drawing increasing attention to hardware asset management, which begs the question: Do you know where your computers are?

Recognizing an opportunity, a number of other vendors have entered the IT asset management market. At present, many of the leading products emphasize managing software licenses and related assets. But selecting an asset management system is only one part of the solution. A willingness to set up an enterprisewide asset management program is essential if you want to get the best results.

Several trends are turning hardware management into an especially thorny problem. “The consumerization of IT and the growing use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets pose challenges to effective hardware management,” says Avenel. “Static devices such as desktop computers are relatively well understood at companies with mature hardware management. [But the use of] non-company-owned devices and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend are still comparatively new.”

Environmental benefits and cost savings

Optimizing hardware management offers several benefits. For example, “some organizations are focused on the environmental benefits of managing hardware to reduce waste,” Avenel observes. Electronic waste is a major concern for governments and companies. In Australia, there are more than 25 million unused mobile phones, according to MobileMuster, a not-for-profit mobile phone recycling program supported by the Australian cellphone industry.

Given that mobile phones involve difficult-to-obtain raw materials such as rare earths minerals, there’s a case to be made for recycling. According to the UN’s STEP (Solving the E-Waste Problem) initiative, over 70 million tons of e-waste was produced in 2015. Several large companies, including Dell and Microsoft, currently run programs to address the problem.

Another benefit of effective management of hardware assets is that it can help companies save money by enabling them to get the most out of their existing IT assets.

“The starting point for an effective program is to create an inventory of all IT assets,” Avenel says. “Next, additional data is required to understand those assets — such as warranties, maintenance status and financial information.” Armed with an inventory and all the relevant information, managers will be better informed when it comes to making IT procurement decisions. However, large organizations face special challenges. “If you are running multi-national organization, there may be tax implications in transferring IT assets from country A to country B, so it is important to investigate that aspect before proceeding,” Avenel cautions.

The difference between success and failure

Several factors contribute to the success of a hardware asset management program, and the most important element may be executive buy-in.

“Effective executive sponsorship is essential, because this effort requires process changes and internal education,” Avenel says. “The planning process begins with building a holistic business case for [IT asset management]. That includes managing operational risk and compliance matters. In addition, the business case will likely show that [asset management] improves business agility, because management will be better informed.” For example, an organization might be able to devote more resources to innovation if it saved money on hardware upgrades with an effective asset management program.


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