Over the last several years, organizations, large and not so large, have realized that IT is no longer an expense but a vehicle for differentiation, increased productivity, and growth. A good strategy requires the understanding that all IT assets will eventually reach a point where the cost and risks of maintaining them is greater than replacing them. Hence, the first step in a strategic IT business plan is asset lifecycle management.
The goal of this article is to briefly define:
- What is asset lifecycle management?
- Why should organizations care?
- What are the best practices around asset lifecycle management?
What is asset lifecycle management?
Asset lifecycle management is the process of tracking all technology assets in a business. This is done at every phase in an asset’s lifecycle from planning through procurement, utilization, maintenance and disposal.
The first phase of an asset’s lifecycle is the planning and preparation. Digital transformation has impacted businesses in myriad ways. Technology provides power, automation, and productivity. Therefore, planning meetings or business reviews should focus on aligning technology needs and costs to business goals and outcomes. A full technology cost of ownership conversation should include planning for new assets and technologies. A proper plan will strategically budget the investment of new assets in conjunction with the replacement of assets that need to be replaced.
This phase has been impacted dramatically by supply chain issues. Therefore, it is even more important that the planning phase includes projections both short and long term. The procurement phase should include not just budget conversations, but workflow needs and impact discussions as well. This also means planning when the device will need to be configured to address all security and regulatory requirements.
This third phase is much more than patching. This is the utilization phase where the asset is in use. The IT team if you have an internal team or an IT service provider, such as MicroAge, should ensure that routine maintenance, upgrades, and patching take place. Technologies have different lifespans depending on their type. For example, workstations and laptops have much shorter lifecycles than servers.
If disposing of an asset was as easy as pitching, it wouldn’t require a phase of its own. However, there are requirements around asset disposal as well. These requirements focus on the security of any data that might have existed on the asset as well as environmental needs. Again, whether working with an internal team, an IT service provider or a combination of both, these are requirements that need to be discussed and a proper process be developed and implemented.
Why should organizations care?
Organizations that understand the importance of asset lifecycle management will benefit in a number of ways including:
- Reducing maintenance costs
- Improving asset performance
- Minimizing cybersecurity risks and liabilities
For example, in a IDC study (sponsored by Dell) on the cost of using older PCs and laptops, they found that the average cost of support for this type of hardware during years 4 to 6 increased by more than 209%. This is often due to the operating system not being optimized for the hardware resulting in more frequent patching, additional testing, increased help desk calls and increased time spent troubleshooting issues. All of this adds to the cost of maintaining the old hardware.
Performance has a tremendous impact on customer, user, and partner satisfaction. Slower performance or periods of inability to operate can be costly. Conversely, higher performance, like a server that can take on more virtual machines, can save a lot of money.
Cybersecurity Liability insurance policies and compliance standards require businesses to follow best practices around asset lifecycle management. The cybersecurity risks of maintaining IT assets that are not patched and updated are enormous and dangerous for organizations.
What are the best practices around asset lifecycle management?
Whether done by an internal IT team or in collaboration with an IT service provider, following these best practices will help organizations better manage their IT assets:
- To address increasing compliance standards, organizations should review their assets periodically. The reviews should include up-to-date information on warranty and end of life status of the IT assets.
- Assets that are nearing expiration should be scheduled for replacement. A technology roadmap and associated budget for 1, 3, and 5 years should be discussed and developed.
- The focus of the reviews should be on:
- Aligning your business goals with technology needs
- Provide short and long term budget forecasts
- Addressing cybersecurity risks and recommendations to mitigate the risks
MicroAge can help you get the most out of your IT investments by focusing on the management of the lifecycle of your IT assets. We would love to start a conversation with you today.