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Evaluating Needs and Capabilities for Technology Asset Management

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As discussed in Protecting Business Interests Through Asset Management, "policy" is an essential part of every asset management program. By design, these programs provide the means, methods and solutions used to ensure that IT assets are properly allocated, preserved and protected. In order to achieve program and policy success, every related action and adopted guideline must be based on actual needs and capabilities. This is the purpose of the “asset management needs assessment”. Read on to learn more.

Start with the Asset Management Basics

At the most basic level, asset management practices, procedures and policies are used to track technology assets (hardware and software) by location, ownership, usage, configuration and maintenance status. While technical and organizational requirements will determine the actual scope and extent of any asset management program, related methods often range from the simple to the complex --- i.e. from manual inventory lists to integrated software solutions for inventory, problem management, change control and software distribution.

While it is often assumed that institutionalized asset management is only worthwhile in the large, corporate environment, there is always a way to benefit from practices designed to make it easier and less costly to acquire, allocate, use and maintain technology assets (not to mention the need to protect these assets from loss, theft, destruction and damage). Once technology assets are put in place, they can be hard to track -- mobile devices, relocations, staff changes, and frequent configuration updates, can all transform the overall asset landscape. These changes, when left uncontrolled, can have a major impact on the ability to support and maintain installed technology.  And these are issues that can impact any business - large or small.

To overcome these obstacles, related asset management programs must suitably reflect actual needs and capabilities. The program must serve a purpose, it must fill a need, and it must be realistic and enforceable. Otherwise, it’s just bureaucracy. So the first step is obvious – you must be able to identify all needs and capabilities and then plan accordingly. This is accomplished through the “define, align and approve methodology”:

  • Step 1: Asset management needs and capabilities are defined (specifically stated in actionable terms).
  • Step 2: Potential program options are the selected to match these identified needs and capabilities.
  • Step 3: Decision making stakeholders provide acceptance and approval for the resulting program (including solutions, procedures and policies).

Pinpointing Needs, Problems and Priorities

The first step towards defining actual asset management needs is to take a serious look at “where asset management stands today”. This is known as the “current status assessment”, used to evaluate current conditions and pinpoint problem areas as a basis for solution development. This assessment is performed using the following (10) assessment questions:

  1. Are you currently able to readily identify the status of all your technology assets (in service, or out of service)?
  2. Do you currently have sufficient, readily assessable knowledge and information regarding the location and assignment of all currently allocated technology assets?
  3. Is your organization fully compliant with all software licensing requirements?
  4. Do you have sufficient knowledge of all existing “in-place” technology assets to properly plan upcoming upgrade projects?
  5. Have IT services, operations and/or projects ever been hindered by a lack of asset information?
  6. Are the current, “in-place” technology assets allocated efficiently and effectively, considering job function, usage and productivity?
  7. Are all current in-place technology assets configured consistently and according to defined standards?
  8. Do you have sufficient knowledge and records of any and all configuration variations?
  9. Does the Help Desk (or other responsible support organization) have ready access to all the asset information needed to solve technical problems and provide quality end-user support?
  10. Do you have ready access to all the asset information needed to properly plan for disaster recovery and business continuity programs?

The answers to the above listed questions will provide a roadmap for program development, providing the basis for matching needs to “solutions”. In all likelihood, every asset management need can be met with one or more possible solutions. This means further analysis and the need to make tough choices. This process is greatly simplified when you have a roadmap for informed decision making. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that each solution is properly aligned with needs and capabilities.

  • Asset management needs are defined. (Example Needs Statement: To protect business interests and ensure compliance with software licensing agreements, allocated software licenses must be accurately tracked according to user, device, purchase date, version and related variables).
  • Solutions are identified, evaluated and matched to the identified need in order to determine the most viable options.  (Example:  Compliance solutions are analyzed according to the following parameters):
    • Types of potential solutions available (considering technical and administrative options).
    • Costs of each potential solution (both initial and long term).
    • Technical requirements of each potential solution.
    • Technical complexities of each potential solution (the degree of difficulty of solution considering implementation and ongoing maintenance).
    • Extent to which each potential solution fills the identified need.
    • Risks associated with each potential solution.
    • Comparative value of each potential solution considering the need and related objectives.

At each point, the “need” is the benchmark by which solutions are analyzed and decisions can be made. This is the overall purpose and intended result of the asset management needs assessment. It’s not about managing assets for the sake of managing assets – it’s about managing assets to protect business interests, maximize IT value and realize the IT management vision.

For more on IT policies, download our free IT Policy Templates (for policy preparation and evaluation) and also see:
Fundamentals of Sound Policy for Managing Information Technology
Email Policies: Tools to Govern Access, Usage and Etiquette
Handbook: Priorities and Planning for IT Asset Management
Using Policy to Set Standards for End-User Technology

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