Companies floundering with asset management

Asset management is like doing the dishes: eventually it has to be done and the more dishes that accumulate, the bigger the problem of keeping track of the task at hand.

For an IT manager, effective asset management is about keeping track of assets in real time as opposed to just getting the best possible return on used equipment and extra visibility.

William Baker, managing director for enterprise fleet management firm The Resonance Group said few organizations in Australia use asset management effectively. It only becomes a priority when there is a crisis.

"Then asset management is used as a band-aid fix before it disappears," Baker said.

"Companies have no idea about asset management, and are still not effective about IT asset management - one financial organization in Australia has 12,100 servers on its books; we found an extra 2000 - four of those behind a false wall.

Baker said what drives the uptake of asset management tools in the enterprise space is understanding what assets they have and what they can do with them.

"Some companies think they already have efficient asset management by doing regular stocktakes but this has two problems: once the stocktake is done, the information is stale, and human errors exist.

"Automated asset management is real time and you have an understanding of your own environment as it is now."

Baker said another driver of asset management is that it makes keeping track of leasing equipment to the end of its lifecycle easier.

One organization currently dealing with the end result of effective "lifestyle management" is Solectron, which partnered this year with IBM as part of the Global Asset Recovery Solutions (GARS) initiative and have so far received nearly 86,000 computers for refurbishment as part of an 18-month to three-year refresh of the leased equipment cycle.

The IBM GARS state that 98.3 percent of material from the laptops, desktops, monitors, routers and printers they receive is either re-used in refurbished equipment or recycled.

Refurbished equipment meets all software licensing concerns.

Solectron processes and refurbishes nearly 80 different brands including Acer, HP, Fujitsu, Apple, Compaq, Cisco and Lexmark.

Kevin Lee, Solectron senior program manager, said the company can handle up to 160 pallets of incoming equipment a day and can adequately process up to 5000 units daily.

"A semitrailer holds 24 pallets - we remove the packaging and accessories and the cardboard is sent to Visy - all accessories either get re-used or re-sold," Lee said.

"Even though some computers come back looking like they have been dragged across the Simpson desert."

IBM global financing general manager Andrew Rutter said while IT asset disposal is not yet governed in Australia it is only a matter of time before we will have to comply with equipment disposal regulations.

"Many organizations deal with the issue of asset disposal by selling assets to staff, auctioning them or throwing them away, but they are not extracting the full value from their IT investment," Rutter said.

Do you have an asset management plan in place? E-mail michael_crawford@idg.com.au

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