Q: How do banks track and manage IT assets?
Hinrich Voelcker, Deutsche Bank: Banks typically use an inventory tool that logs all configuration items and their interlinking relationships. The pros of this approach are that the asset information is held in a flexible, query-able form. Furthermore, linking the inventory system or configuration management database (CMDB) with a capacity management system or other IT asset metrics allows the identification of underutilized assets, enabling increases in efficiency to be realized.
The cons: The collection of every data aspect of each configuration item may not be automated, so manual processes may be required. Data ownership is also a question when considering systems as a whole.
Peter O'Neill, Forrester Research: Good documentation of IT assets is a foundation for running IT as a business. IT organizations are beginning to develop true business service management (BSM) systems by doing two things: understanding the metrics their business users employ to decide if IT is providing value, and linking these metrics and their associated business services to IT infrastructure components.
One of the fundamental subsystems necessary to support a BSM strategy is IT asset management (ITAM) because if you don't know what you have in your estate, you can't build and deliver sophisticated service levels. Forrester estimates that about 65 percent of large banks have implemented ITAM systems and processes to date.
Anthony Iannetta, Evergreen Systems: Banks may keep track of assets with tools as basic as databases or spreadsheets, or they may have automated asset management systems. The drawback of manual tools is that they require people to constantly monitor and track inventory and record that data in a database or spreadsheet that can be centrally accessed and maintained. This data quickly becomes outdated, requires constant archiving and maintenance, and is often inaccurate. Automated asset management creates a consolidated repository of all inventory and configuration data.
Steve DuScheid, Novell: Most banks use a number of software tools to manage their IT assets, but the systems are generally not integrated and rely heavily on manual processes. Automated IT inventory tools may be used, but only through extensive analysis and sometimes guesswork can the results be used to answer management questions, like, "How many machines can be migrated to the Vista operating system?" While many banks cover the basics, few are optimizing their IT assets by analyzing software usage analysis, redeploying underutilized assets or fully leveraging their license entitlements.
Q: What are the risks for banks that don't have efficient IT asset management processes? What are the benefits for banks that get it right?
O'Neill, Forrester Research: Bank executives, shareholders and regulatory organizations all require an accurate record of all IT assets for financial controlling, information security and compliance reasons. A bank's IT estate often can account for 50 percent of the total enterprise asset base and sometimes as much as 80 percent of capital expenditure. Each ITAM project usually provides real cost savings, for example, by identifying unused software and hardware assets, more-effective lifecycle management, and better IT operations processing through better documentation. IT organizations with a full ITAM practice in place -- meaning an organization, processes, and technology -- can successfully support procurement management, financial management, vendor management, software license management and contract management.
DuScheid, Novell: Banks without an IT asset management program face risks that range from security breaches to noncompliance with regulations and license agreements. Banks that invest in asset management and track hardware, software and purchasing data ensure license compliance and eliminate software/hardware overspending by purchasing only the software and hardware they need.
Iannetta, Evergreen Systems: Risks for banks with poor asset management include unreliable inventory records, underutilization of assets, costly physical inventories, poor equipment lifecycle management and less-than-optimal procurement processes. Probably the greatest risk is the failure of internal and external audits due to the inability to demonstrate control of IT assets. Rewards can include establishing consistency and control over procurement, maintenance and equipment-retirement processes; reducing spending through better tracking and reclamation of assets; eliminating costly physical inventories; consolidating redundant asset repositories; and eliminating reactive contract renegotiations with vendors.