In my last blog post I did a little ranting about the fact that we, as IT service organizations, are making the same mistake in not aggressively counting, accounting for and reviewing our IT asset portfolio over and over. Thus causing pain not only for our organizations, but our end customers due to increased downtime, decreased profitability and general inefficiency in the process of procuring and managing IT assets.
What I didn't mention, primarily because it was a long rant, is that there are tools and techniques - likely already in your organization - you should be using to automate this writing-down effort. For those of you steeped in ITIL and COBIT lore this isn't a new idea, you may even get a long yawn out of this article, but i do think its worth nothing again in layman's terms:
Every IT organization I've ever seen has some form of:
- Fixed and operational asset systems (maybe a spreadsheet, maybe a CMDB)
- Incident management system (maybe email, maybe a full fleged incident software package)
- Problem management system
- Relationship management system
- IT asset general knowledge base (hopefully not in Ed, in procurements', head)
- IT asset search functionality (again, Ed's head would be a bad place for this too)
- Capacity planning & performance reporting systems
- IT asset (and application) disaster recovery planning system
Think of a correlary - let's use the gas shale in Canada as an example - you can go to Google at this moment and search for data on any number of topics that may interest you. Feel free to search by location, safety records, development companies, expected capacity of the shale, potential opptions for developing the shale (or indeed for getting any energy from it at all). All of this in under 1 second, rapidly iterated and infinitely flexible. (As long as you can think of the right search)
Of course, you don't have the resources of a google or the depth of data to need this much flexibilty, but the points are the same:
- Why can't someone search for any IT asset in your environment at any time, from multiple starting points including configuration, incident, performance and relationship contexts? Oh, and get the data back in under 8 seconds.
- How much operational efficiency and IT cost could you get back if you made a concerted effort to even minimally integrate these islands of information?
- What would it be worth to your IT team and your customers if you could do these things?
Now, I don't want to trail off into a full-blown discussion of whether big-vendor IT asset management products or internal, bespoke development efforts provide the most cost efficient and effective path to IT asset nirvana. I will say, however, that irrespective of how any internal organization gets there, the journey will be worth the effort - including that brief moment when your CIO looks over your shoulder during a demo of your rocket science search capability and goes 'wow, that's cool'.