Asset-tracking troubles cost plenty: report

IT shops in large companies are being rapped across the knuckles for wasting millions of dollars for doing a poor job of tracking their distributed hardware assets.

Despite current budgetary pressures, asset tracking has been described by Wesley Mission IT operations manager Ninos Khamo as the "forbidden fruit".

That is because "you don't know it is a problem until the proverbial hits the roof", he said.

Khamo speaks from experience. For the past year and half his company has had to make do without an asset tracking application as the one it had, a Veritas product, was dropped by the vendor.

"Since then we have been looking for a new product. It is hard to find a product that suits our needs, plus there is no one out there pushing it. This means you are canvassing for the product yourself and then testing it; it's all a bit daunting," he said.

As a result, Khamo said, asset management has been pushed down the list because, "It is fiddly and you can't justify creating a position to look after asset management; so it is added onto someone else's duties."

According to a Gartner report, Good IT Asset Management Can Save You Money, analysts Bill Kirwin and Jack Heine point out that about 90 per cent of Gartner clients who were audited use "marginal practices" for hardware asset management. In addition, fewer than 25 per cent of all global organisations have a life-cycle asset management program. These oversights, the market researcher claims, can cost companies dearly.

For example, shoddy tracking techniques increase the risk of poor system management, complex change management and below-average service levels, all of which can increase the total cost of ownership of distributed computing by 7 to 10 per cent each year, or $US560 to $US800 per user. For a company with 10,000 desktops, that can mean up to $US8 million in wasted spending.

Despite currently trialling a piece of software that might solve these sorts of problems, Khamo said he is only too aware of consequences of being without an asset tracking application.

"Since we do not have an asset tracking application we have been loosing track of our assets and I hit a wall at budget time," he said.

"We are not looking at trends. For example, if we had 100 laptops that needed mobile Internet access, [presently] we are not able to look at custom applications that would suit our company or bargain for better deals."

Of course, the other side of coin is that some companies are extremely diligent about tracking their distributed assets.

John Thomas, CIO for AM Corporation, said: "I have worked for many big organisations and they all knew where their money was going. I think this research is a bit of hype."

Thomas said asset management is fundamental and most companies would have a life-cycle management program in place.

"If companies do not have this sort of program in place their equipment would get out of warranty. They would then run the risk of having equipment that is outdated that they may not have paid off. Equipment would also generally be mismanaged if they did not have these processes in place."

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