Personal productivity devices, such as desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablet PCs, and the data they generate and retrieve have contributed to a wealth of information and…risks for Long Term Care. If Information Technology (IT) managers are unable to monitor, manage, and protect productivity devices, software distribution, and how information is exchanged and filed, providers run a considerable risk of data loss, non-compliance, and potentially fatally damaging their operations. Implementing sound hardware and data management practices is the responsibility of all providers. IT Asset Management (ITAM) embraces the technology and best practices that can help IT Managers with this critical task.
What is asset management?
ITAM encompasses mostly the hardware components of the IT infrastructure and its interconnected computers - in other words, everything that supports the flow and processing of information. Consider, for example, data and computers. What IT assets do you have? Where are they? Who has access to them and who is using them? What is the lifecycle of each? What are the procedures for safeguarding each? What is the most cost-efficient method for tracking and maintaining them? One way to look at this challenge is to consider that IT is a business within a business. ITAM is the specific method and tools you employ to manage that business. It is 80% systems and 20% tools.
A few years ago, Patricia Adams, Research Director, Gartner Research, identified five drivers toward IT asset management:
- Software license compliance. Most vendor contracts authorize compliance audits. The Business Software Alliance (BSA) is now offering rewards of up to $200,000 for qualified piracy leads.
- ITIL (IT Infrastructure Libraries). ITIL outlines an extensive set of management procedures that are intended to support businesses in achieving both quality and value, in a financial sense, in IT operations.
- Cost control. This includes the cost of IT labor, purchasing, and managing device complexity.
- Asset security. This involves monitoring and managing asset displacement and network assets.
- Operational efficiency. With ITAM, most facets of your business run more smoothly.
Neglecting ITAM can be risky?
In the absence of ITAM, LTC providers are at risk. They may suffer unauthorized access to or the loss or corruption of critical business information and EPHI (electronic protected health information). The impact of such could include liability risks, poor public relations, including diminished shareholder value and goodwill, exposure to and during law suits, and a significant disruption in the conduct of business.
A disruption in business, for instance, will likely involve non-productive time, even downtime resulting from non- or mal-functioning equipment, critical documentation missed or erroneously recorded, missing files, emails not received, and an inability to send MDS or other claims. Providers may also experience loss of continuity in the form of missed deadlines or poor communications. By not managing computing devices, users may download unauthorized applications or updates which can introduce software incompatibilities, even viruses or other malware.
The risks can be costly
Providers also risk increased or unnecessary costs. Malfunctioning IT assets mean upset users; upset users mean increased support calls, which can be costly in terms of needed help desk resources to handle such calls. In the absence of ITAM, providers may have to unnecessarily search out and recover lost data/files. In recovering lost files, providers experience down time and fees associated with archived data retrieval, assuming the data/files can be found. Additionally, lost/misplaced inventory, unnecessary repairs, or necessary repairs not addressed, can also disrupt the day-to-day flow of business.
Other risks include exposure to software licensure and regulatory non-compliance which may result in significant fines/penalties.
An organized and well executed ITAM program is a sound business investment – a practice that should not be ignored.
- In the absence of ITAM, what other risks do businesses/providers run?
- What have you implemented to manage your IT assets?
In future blogs we’ll discuss ITAM best practices and tools available today through the cloud. Until then, write, if you get a round to IT.