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A half-full asset management glass might as well be empty

Until you gain visibility of all of the assets in your infrastructure, you're in for a rough ride. Once you can see detailed granularity, together with the interrelationships between assets, you can begin to optimize problem resolution and design processes, cost control, and service levels.

Best Processes
with Greg Lenox

You can't separate data from voice, voice from network, network from cable and cable from service providers. Equal means they're all important. It's like that old nursery rhyme about "For want of a nail a shoe was lost..." Unless our processes account for all of them, the hands of IT service providers are tied. We don't know whether to look for a horseshoe or a rider when some part of our infrastructure kingdom is lost. As a result, we run a greater risk of compromising uptime and service satisfaction levels.

Take the blinders off

Focus is a popular word these days. Whether you are a manager, a vendor or, yes, a consultant, we all have our areas of expertise. That can create vulnerability. If, for example, you focus on getting your Wintel desktop ducks in order and take your network for granted, you could wind up blindsiding yourself. When the all-important order entry system stops working, precious uptime can tick away because ports and cable drops aren't centrally documented. Heck, it might take an IT organization hours just to figure out whether it's a problem with a T1, a software glitch, a system problem or a server someone unplugged by accident.

The devil still lurks in the details

You may be unknowingly undermining your ability to deliver high levels of satisfaction because you can't connect the dots. One of the answers can be to have your asset management tools capture the finest level of granularity possible to avoid missing that critical weak link in the chain. As an example, without a detailed circuit map, cable plant map and asset repair history, the only answer may be to send out a technician to undertake an ad hoc discovery process out on the campus. There's nothing like somebody randomly unplugging and replugging cables in a patch panel to find out what's on a circuit to make IT even more popular.

No asset is an island

Now's a good time to remind you that knowing the interrelationships between and among assets is just as important as knowing the assets themselves. You want to know which model telephone handset plugs into which outlet; which goes through which riser and pathway to which panel in which closet served by which PBX; which connects to which carrier service. Believe me, it makes the whole install, move, add and change lifecycle more productive by an order of magnitude.

Fill your glass to the brim

Imagine being able to pull up all assets and asset relationships within the enterprise and their relationships to end users. You'd be able to perform cost allocation and chargebacks against the whole asset base. It would also be easier to improve service delivery quality for the enterprise.

Now here's the key benefit that will make you a hero: you'll be able to maximize uptime to your primary or production business' customers. Think of Web shopping, order entry, inventory and shipping, CRM -- all those cogs that make up the moneymaking machine -- they're all running against your network and servers, the customer database you maintain, and the telecom systems under your IT umbrella. By making the machine harder to break and easier to fix, you'll put your company in a more competitive position.

Reward yourself

For many reasons, deepening your asset management perspective is a worthwhile investment. There will be many business-critical pieces of your infrastructure that cost-justify doing a physical survey to capture asset data. And moving forward, you can capture the needed detail as you procure, build and deploy new assets and through tracking of all activities that impact infrastructure.

And the best reason of all is personal. The more asset detail available to manage, the easier your job will be.

Greg Lenox, an expert in the processes, methods and practices of IT operations for customer support, help desk, asset management, inventory management, telecommunications management and change management, is president and CEO of Entuition Inc., a maker of operations management solutions in the infrastructure logistics marketplace. At Entuition and in previous positions, he led several major re-engineering projects. His clients included SunTrust Banks, Citibank, Target, GlaxoSmithKline, Baxter Healthcare, Nations Bank, Wachovia Bank, First Union Bank, BB&T, CCNB, CNA Insurance and others.

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