A good asset management plan is invaluable to an enterprise IT staff because it gives executives a strong sense of inventory. That makes good sense when it's time to upgrade or add applications.
But only about 25% of companies have a decent asset management plan, according to a recent report from Gartner Group.
Gartner analysts also said that roughly 40% of their own clients' assets are not tracked with tools, and only about 10% of their hardware assets are reconciled against a formal database.
When companies don't have a good accounting of their hardware and software assets, it makes planning operating system upgrades a real chore. It also makes it hard for application developers to know what they need to code for, according to Bill Kirwin, an analyst at Gartner.
In many companies, asset management plans get a lot of lip service, Kirwin said. "They are difficult to get funding for and even more difficult to get sustainable funding."
Many companies have inventory processes, but they have no way of using inventory information for other purposes. "They may have purchased tools that are only partially installed," Kirwin said.
"When something happens, like a disaster or a big system change, that's when you see the cracks in most asset management plans."
Measuring the IT life-cycle is more than counting products and entering the result into a database -- it requires process, technology and best practices, Kirwin said. There are phases that involve strategizing, evaluating, executing, and managing the program, all of which require careful planning across an organization.
Developing an asset management program starts with developing a process that involves employees throughout a corporation, including people from procurement, technology migration, configuration management, infrastructure management, and those responsible for "break fix," said Jack Heine, another Gartner analyst.
For many mature companies, planning practices and procedures were established around the mainframe processes and didn't change much when desktops came into vogue. Desktop management is not as well-controlled as the old datacenter, Heine said. But organizations that tend to manage desktops really well generally have good standards across the board.
Once an asset management process takes hold in an organization, it becomes part of the standard operating process, according to Heine. Assuming there is no change in asset management, it becomes much more than a record keeping process.