When it comes to your organisation's hardware and software, it pays to be proactive instead of reactive. While naturally businesses want to squeeze as much life from their assets as possible, the downside can be unexpected expenses and headaches as equipment inevitably breaks down and becomes obsolete over time.
Which begs the question: does your business have an active lifecycle management plan? While many businesses leave their asset management to chance, experts say you can get more value from your IT by planning ahead. Here's a look at how.
What is active lifecycle management?
Today's business has many types of equipment and software under one roof, including servers, desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile phones. These hardware and software assets need to be acquired, managed and eventually retired. By regularly keeping track of your assets’ lifespans, contract lengths, warranties, licences, service issues and costs, you'll be able to avoid downtime and unnecessary expenses as equipment reaches the end of its useful life, not to mention have a much better idea of how much to budget for future acquisitions.
Creating an active lifecycle management plan
Before creating an active lifecycle management plan, it's important to know what goals you want to achieve. Do you want to:
- Make cost-effective acquisition decisions?
- Retire IT assets before they start to require additional resources?
- Make sure assets are being used in an efficient manner?
- Ensure compliance in the event of an audit?
- Reduce liability in partner relationships?
Finding the right method
Finding the best method for tracking your equipment's lifecycles depends on a variety of factors, including the size of your organisation, the number of assets and the nature of your business. Here's a look a few different methods in use today.
- Capital budgets: This approach relies on accounting policies to determine when to replace assets. However, set budgets don't always take into account the actual lifespan of equipment or the cost of unexpected expansion
- Warranty expiration: Some companies base product lifecycles on warranties, but this approach may not make sense if the warranties expire before the equipment has reached the end of its lifecycle.
- Waiting for equipment to fail: While this is a sure-fire way to know an asset has reached the end of its useful life, it's a risky approach and not advisable.
Regardless of which method an organisation uses, the general rule of thumb should be to replace your hardware or software when the cost of maintaining it exceeds the cost of replacing it. In some cases, a business may discover that leasing, which allows companies to upgrade to the latest equipment based on predetermined intervals, is the best option.
Tracking the active lifecycle of your assets
In order to manage the lifecycle of your assets, you'll need both procedural and technological processes in place, which will vary depending on the size and nature of your business. While a small business might be able to get away with a lower level of effort and discipline relative to lifecycle management, larger organisations will have to invest a lot more time and energy into the same process. Indeed, for some businesses it's a full-time job involving high levels of coordination amongst different service centres and departments.
Because tracking all of the IT assets in an organisation can be a manual, error-prone and time-consuming process, many companies invest in asset tracking software, which allows for automatic discovery and tracking of hardware and software. Such tools, however, do not eliminate the need for good business processes, so it's important to have all your processes in place beforehand.
Having an effective lifecycle management process in place can go a long way in helping you make better financial decisions as well as eliminate unnecessary downtime and loss of productivity. So if you haven't already, consider what it would take to develop an active lifecycle management policy for your business to keep things moving smoothly.