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Visibility and Agility: A Perspective on IT Asset Management During and After a Crisis

Submitted by Jelle Wijndelts on April 19, 2020
Visibility and Agility: A Perspective on IT Asset Management During and After a Crisis

We’ve seen a tremendous shift in remote work policies around the globe in the last few weeks. Organizations and individuals alike have had to quickly adapt to a new reality around how business gets done. How this impacts the future of work remains to be seen but, for now, large parts of the workforce are connecting from home, and that means IT is working hard to manage it all. 

Thankfully, many countries have the underlying IT infrastructure needed to make remote work possible. The rapid adoption of the cloud and SaaS applications was already changing the way we work. But today’s unprecedented time has undoubtedly escalated this fact. Ready or not, we’ve all jumped headfirst into this new normal. And, as a result, the role of IT Asset Management (ITAM) in empowering organizations to keep a close eye on cloud and software investments, has never been more vital.

With all organizations having to adapt at speed, chances are that many have been pushed into making hasty decisions. And that’s okay as the first priority is to keep the company running and your newly remote workers supplied with the new technology resources they need. But the consequences of those decisions could have a lasting impact. For example, that offer for six months of free software may have been necessary at the time to seamlessly enable productivity. But was it the right software for the long haul and, if not, will the business be tied into a product that was never budgeted for?

As organizations adapt to the current market uncertainty, ITAM has a critical role to play when it comes to supporting their short-, medium- and long-term IT strategy.

Managing the here and now

With most workers now up and running at home, it’s time to begin getting your arms around what your new reality looks like. Here are some recommendations for smoothing out your go-forward path.

  • Be proactive. Enabling both business leaders and end-users is your top priority to ensure smooth business operations. Get involved and help them make good decisions when it comes to things like SaaS, BYOD, virtual desktops and more.
  • Stay focused. Keep an eye on what is happening in your estate. This is a fluid situation but, with ongoing visibility, you will be able to make decisions more quickly because you already know what is happening and what is needed.
  • Ramp up communication. Regularly inform your users of what is acceptable and what isn’t. Help them understand how they can work remotely by sharing the tools you have already made available to them. Send frequent reminders on taking the proper precautions with personally identifiable data and maintaining strong security protocols.
  • Be wary of “free” software. This is one way in which licenses can snowball out of control. Snow’s CIO Alastair Pooley has a favorite saying: “There is no such thing as a free puppy.” Make sure you read the T&Cs and understand when your free licenses end. That will put you in a good position to either stop use of or negotiate the required amount of accounts for the software or application.

Preparing for extended working from home

As you begin to think about long-term requirements, your organization’s leadership team will inevitably be having some future-of-work discussions and your company processes will need to adapt. To prepare for what comes next, consider these ideas in your planning.

  • Ensure you have comprehensive visibility into your IT estate. A surge in shadow IT is unavoidable at a time like this, so it’s important to have an accurate handle on what technology is running across your organization.
  • Publish a list of approved software and applications and share it broadly.
  • Implement an automated software request process. This is so important for preventing incorrect licensing and maintaining compliance.
  • Review the controls you have available for preventing workers from downloading unapproved productivity applications and modify as needed.
  • Author a formal policy for BYOD, as well as virtual desktops, applications and cloud application usage, that includes strong governance. Secure leadership buy-in for your plan and then share it widely.

Shifting focus to cost savings

No one knows the long-term effects of our current reality, but economies around the world are already feeling the impact. During a time like this, asset management can be a tremendous help to the business as you start planning for the following cost-saving scenarios today:

  • Look for opportunities to fully optimize your technology spend. Rightsizing licenses or negotiating an early renewal could free up the critical budget needed to support the business.
  • Some companies may regrettably be forced to implement reductions in their workforce. If such tough decisions need to be made, prepare to negotiate with vendors to reduce technology expenses as well.
  • Expect that software vendors will respond to economic pressure with an increase in audits. Prepare for that reality now.
  • Economic shifts can also lead to an increase in mergers and acquisitions. ITAM data will be needed to provide insight on compliance, contractual commitments and technology budgets.

Regardless of what’s in store, having complete visibility across your IT estate has never been more critical. This comprehensive insight into your infrastructure, cloud usage and applications will keep you within budget and compliant as you ride out this storm.

For more on managing through a crisis, see our CIO’s perspective, A New Reality for IT: A CIO’s Perspective During a Business Continuity Event.