Taking Stock, From Start

By Brian P. Watson  |  Posted 2007-02-28 Print this article Print

Tracking hardware and software assets is no easy task. Add software deployment and help-desk automation, and the challenge grows. Asset management software can do it all—and more.

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Taking Stock, From Start to Finish

To most, "asset management" evokes the images of commercials portraying the bespectacled money manager as part of the family, or the middle-aged couple asking, "Have we saved enough?"

For technology managers, asset management is more about the here and now.

There's no slick investment manager involved, but there is a wealth of software tools that keep tabs on everything from servers to smart phones, from their first day on the job until their retirement.

In a September 2006 report, Forrester Research pointed out that while technology departments focused on building systems to help business units prosper, they had limited options to run more efficiently. Enter asset management software.

At their optimum, these programs can oversee inventory concerns, like how many computers or software licenses a company has; contracts, including service-level and maintenance agreements; and financials, such as depreciation estimates and charge-backs.

Managing its technological portfolio from procurement to disposal helps an organization in a number of ways, from cutting down on the time help-desk technicians spend on installing software, to avoiding fees and penalties—or even litigation—from exceeding their licensing agreements.

The ability to manage "from cradle to grave" drew Lori Sorenson to invest in asset management software. In 2000, she oversaw the creation of the Illinois Century Network, a telecommunications backbone linking the state's educational institutions, municipalities, hospitals, nonprofits and other organizations.

According to Sorenson, systems inventories and other records on those "member" organizations were kept in a homegrown database. Over the next few years, as the network grew, Sorenson and her team looked for software to track and report on their physical assets, costs and depreciation, to replace the project's system of spreadsheets and databases.

She also needed a system to connect members to the network's help desk. "We needed it all," says Sorenson, now a chief operating officer with the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, which administers the state's technology and telecommunications.

She had heard positive reviews of tools from Remedy, then an independent asset management software maker (now owned by BMC Software). Remedy eventually became the only firm to formally bid for the project. Sorenson says Remedy's pre-built reports, along with its help-desk and customer relationship modules, were the combination they were looking for.

Before deploying the software, she says it took about a month to tabulate asset depreciations. Her team created a script with Remedy that generates those same figures on demand.

And now it takes less time to bring new state departments and agencies online. When they were still using spreadsheets and the in-house database, processing requests and sending out quotes for provisioning and connecting to the network could take up to two weeks.

With all the information housed in Remedy, Sorenson says her team could complete those tasks in two days.

Soon after being picked for the project, Remedy was bought by Peregrine Systems. That firm filed for bankruptcy protection in 2002 and sold Remedy to BMC. (Peregrine itself was bought in 2005 by Hewlett-Packard and rolled into its OpenView product line.)

Associate Editor

Brian joined Baseline in March 2006. In addition to previous stints at Inter@ctive Week and The Net Economy, he's written for The News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla., as well as The Sunday Tribune in Dublin, Ireland. Brian has a B.A. from Bucknell University and a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.


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