Cleaning up your desktop assets.

Author:Evans, Edward J.
Position:Controlling computing costs - Includes related article

It's 10 p.m. Do you know where your desktop-computing costs are? If not, read how you can create an aggressive asset-management program to keep tabs on your costs and crank up productivity.

Recently, management at a large brokerage firm decided to take a closer look at the cost of its help-desk function. The senior managers looked around the corporate office and saw six or seven help-desk people and a budget of approximately $500,000. No problem, they thought.

But management failed to recognize that when the company changed from a centralized-computing to a distributed-computing environment, it had also distributed the need for a help-desk function. An analysis revealed the company's total help-desk staffing was 60 to 70 people, not the six or seven management counted, and that total help-desk expenditures were close to $20 million, not $500,000. In the end, management outsourced the help desk for $6 million, saving the company roughly $14 million a year.

Distributed computing and its operational and financial impact on companies have created many challenges that have rendered traditional methods for tracking and managing information-technology assets obsolete. That's why distributed-asset management should be as hot a topic for financial executives as it is for IT professionals.

In many organizations, operational and financial responsibility for desktop computing has shifted from centralized IT departments to end-user departments. When most IT assets were managed from a single data center, it was relatively simple to track and manage assets across the entire organization. But methods for tracking and managing distributed assets have lagged behind the growth in distributed computing.

Recent industry reports indicate that in the last 10 years, users spent more than $400 billion on desktop hardware and software and more than $1.6 trillion supporting this distributed-computing environment. But as decentralized computing assets have increased, so, too, have the expenses of supporting and tracking hardware and software assets. And the costs of improperly using software, such as stiff penalties for having an insufficient number of software licenses for the number of users, also have increased. These factors have negatively affected the budgets of both IT and end-user departments.

As all financial executives know, the value of a company's asset base continually changes as the market changes. The ability to trade, shift or dispose of assets at the optimal time is a must, and access to data with which both financial and information executives can make better technology decisions is critical. But while most companies spend more on distributed computing than on data-center...

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