The job hiring outlook post-COVID-19 is a mixed one. According to Manpower, the Q3 hiring outlook indicates positive gains for healthcare and education services (+13 per cent) while understandably, leisure and hospitality have evidenced a sharp hiring decline. Essential jobs like nurses and nursing assistants are in top demand while ‘non-essential’ occupations like information technology are seeing a general cooling off. Manpower projects a minus three per cent hiring decline even while jobs like IT security or systems analysts remain on the list of top in-demand occupations. Across the board, businesses are looking carefully at workforce productivity in an environment of recovery and cautious optimism. It’s an excellent opportunity for IT teams to show the C-suite they are on board with cost control and smart use of available resources. Two areas in which IT can measurably demonstrate Return-on-Investment (ROI) is better asset and vendor management.
The recent work-from-home (WFH) shift highlighted the need to track all assets in the organization carefully. IT teams were faced very quickly with trying to manage devices and implement application control on remote and/or rogue devices that previously might have been backup devices at best. On the vendor management side, remote workers could be using software that was not licensed for corporate use, or ‘borrowing’ IDs to use seat licenses, potentially exposing the network to a compliance violation or security risk.
All these issues impact IT’s ability to demonstrate an ROI. By implementing systems and practices to exert more organizational control over assets and vendor management, IT teams can increase their ROI and importantly, free up staff time for more value-add tasks. Here are five practices to consider:
- Unify Asset Visibility. A survey of IT professionals revealed 45% use inventory tools as one of their resources for asset tracking; 43% are still using spreadsheets, and 50% are using an endpoint management solution. IT can even be using a mixed combination of all three. A single source of truth – all asset data discovered across these different sources, reconciled, and normalized in one repository – is imperative to reducing wasted IT time trying to locate asset information. It also provides an accurate information resource all IT departments can access to help identify rogue assets that present compliance and security risks and to help manage the lifecycle of any asset.
- Retire Assets in Time. A centralized source of asset data can enable IT to better plan for asset retirement, consider replacement purchases and conversely determine if some assets’ useful life can be extended. For example, extending the life of laptops by one year can save an IT organization several million dollars, but this is dependent on consistent tracking of the entire asset lifecycle to determine the health and performance of the laptops in use. There is great ROI upside potential here, but it must start with thorough asset visibility.
- Keep Current on Patching. Failure to stay up to date on vulnerability patching opens the door to cyber threats. However, IT can’t patch an asset if the team doesn’t know it exists. Mitigating risk to the network and preventing a costly data breach is linked to IT having complete knowledge of all assets in use and being able to track patching history of the assets.
- Manage Vendors with a Sharp Eye. Tracking software licenses is an area of financial discipline in which IT can show a direct result in improved ROI. As part of a centralized asset management system, IT should be able to efficiently monitor contracts, purchase and warranty data. A survey of IT professionals found 28% said they devote hours each week supporting out-of-warranty/out-of-support policy assets, and 20% of them indicate they don’t have insights into which assets are out of date. As a result, IT staff is wasting time fixing assets that should either be retired or reviewed for their current value to the organization.
- Strengthen Governance and Compliance. Accountability and transparency – two core pillars of corporate governance – are an important aspect of effective asset management. To support governance, IT must be able to give an accurate report of assets and license commitments. IT also needs to provide visibility into WFH assets connecting remotely to corporate networks. Accountability also includes diligence in seeing that employees and/or contractors are using software that is in compliance with vendor agreements and preventing unauthorized applications from entering the network and creating a security risk.
Better Asset Visibility = Better ROI
IT can get a seat at the executive table. What it takes is thinking like the C-suite. That entails looking at all the ways organizational teams can help nurture long-term growth and sustainability. IT can prove ROI by showing it knows how to be more efficient and cost-conscious. Executing a unified asset and vendor management system that saves staff time, minimizes risk and keeps the company in compliance is a great way to start. When the C-suite sees that IT embraces ROI with similar fervour, the door to the boardroom will be open!