Many organisations are required to manage large fleets of assets as part of their daily operations. Depending on the nature of the business, these may range from office and computer equipment, to larger, capital items. Efficient asset management is essential in keeping any organisation running smoothly and has a direct impact on the organisation’s key financial ratio: Return on Assets (ROA). Proper management of a fleet of assets will translate into operational efficiency. While asset management may seem to be a fairly simple process, there are many associated challenges, whether the organisation has leased, or paid cash for the assets. This article takes a closer look at the top four IT asset-management challenges facing businesses today.
According to Jane Cartwright, Chief Operations Officer of RentWorks, ‘an obvious challenge, and one which is often top of mind, especially when it comes to IT-related equipment, is knowing when an asset is lost or stolen. The cost of replacing the item, not to mention the administrative burden and associated use of resources in reporting and tracking it are challenge enough, but an organisation also needs to deal with the resultant loss of productivity, downtime and the impact on profitability. Knowing immediately that an asset has been lost or stolen, as well as the circumstances surrounding the incident, is essential, in order for decision-making to happen on the basis of accurate information.’
A challenge less often considered is the data protection implication of a lost or stolen asset. ‘While it is common practice for a physical asset, such as a leased laptop or other mobile device, to be managed, tracked and secured, it is becoming increasingly important to consider the security of the data stored on the device, both during its lifecycle and at the end of its life,’ says Cartwright. ‘This is especially in light of the requirements of the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013 (‘POPI’), which has been signed into law and which is expected to be made fully effective in the near future. The purpose of POPI is to ensure that companies act in a responsible manner when collecting, processing, storing, sharing and accessing another’s personal information. It is therefore essential that any information stored on any device is secured by the highest level of protection and disposed of in the manner prescribed by the Act.
‘It has often been said that you can’t manage what you can’t measure and you can’t measure what you can’t see, and this is a basic truth when it comes to asset tracking and management,’ says Cartwright. ‘Being able to proactively manage an asset at any given point in time is critical – where is it, who has it, what is being done with it, and how long will it be used for the current purpose are all questions which should be able to be answered with ease and certainty at any stage. They speak to employee and organisational accountability.’
Administration and control
In order to be fully in control of your assets, it’s essential that they are properly categorised. Maintaining an accurate asset register is certainly a challenge. ‘We hear of “ghost” assets – those that are stolen, lost or unusable, and which are still listed as active in the system,’ says Cartwright. ‘In addition are the challenges related to maintenance schedules for all assets, equipment uptime and downtime and the user on each machine. Asset registers are essential repositories of an organisation’s “one source of truth”, but that truth needs to be accurate.
‘We believe passionately about the full visibility of all of an organisation’s assets,’ says Cartwright. ‘Those in use; those available; those that are surplus; and those that have been lost or stolen, as well as the data stored on all of those devices. While the challenges associated with proper and professional asset tracking are many and sometimes overwhelming, there are solutions at hand.’
Look out for the second and third articles in this three-part series, which will discuss how the challenges of asset management can be addressed.