Keeping tabs on a sprawling software environment can be challenging. With a surge in work-from-home users, overwhelmed IT teams scrambling to respond, and a proliferation of Software as a Service opportunities that end users can quickly jump on by keying in their corporate credit cards, this problem has the potential to spiral out of control.

Learn how IT asset management can help you improve visibility and reduce risk at CDW.com/SAM.

Take the example of a corporate marketing employee trying to stay productive and efficient from her kitchen table, armed with a company-issued smartphone and laptop. When she runs into a problem (such as needing to record a call on her smartphone), she can solve it quickly and get back to work by downloading an app and charging it to her corporate account. But then, she needs to send the recording to a colleague and discovers that the file is too large to email. Out comes the corporate credit card again, and the employee creates an account with a cloud-based file-sharing service.

It’s easy to see how hundreds (or even thousands) of small, well-meaning actions like this can quickly cause chaos, with IT shops losing any semblance of visibility into or control over their organizations’ software environments.

These problems can be solved with the right mix of technologies and practices, but unfortunately, simple barriers often stand in the way. Here is how to identify those barriers and overcome them.

Lack of Buy-In from Executive Leadership

Effective, centralized IT asset management systems cost money, and it’s often difficult for IT leaders and line-of-business stakeholders to convince executives that this initial investment will pay off. Business leaders are juggling countless initiatives that compete for their limited time and attention. If they believe that their organization has a “good enough” system in place to manage IT assets, they’re unlikely to dedicate the time and resources necessary to make significant improvements.

To build buy-in among executives, IT leaders must demonstrate that ineffective asset management is a source of significant risk to an organization — chiefly in the form of software license compliance audits. They must also make a financial case for new tools, showing how they can yield a positive return on investment. When we at CDW work with IT leaders to help make the case for asset management tools, we use hard data to show how much money can be saved by freeing up professionals from manual management tasks and optimizing application environments to avoid waste.

Siloed Processes and Policies

To the extent that organizations are currently managing their software assets, they’re largely doing so in silos. When onboarding new people, for instance, a human resources department may fail to communicate with the IT team to learn what software licenses are already available. Instead, HR may lead the charge in equipping recent hires with a new tool to make their jobs easier, but they may do so without input from IT on how this app could affect other areas of business.

This lack of communication can result in noncompliance with license agreements or an overprovisioning of software that leads to a bloated budget. By breaking down silos among departments, organizations can prevent rogue IT, ensure that the IT shop has visibility into software assets, and enable policies and practices that balance cost, security and productivity.

Unsustainable Systems

During this extended period of remote work, many people are cleaning out their basements or organizing their sock drawers for the first time in years. It can feel great to spend an afternoon decluttering a closet and see the results of your hard work. But if you don’t put a system in place to keep things organized, you’ll end up back where you started after just a few weeks.

The same is true of IT asset management. Too often, IT teams are tasked with tracking down all of the software running in an organization and logging this information with basic tools such as spreadsheets or even Post-it notes. (No, really. According to CDW research, nearly 20 percent of businesses use sticky notes as part of their asset management strategy.)

Without strong asset management tools in place, and without employees who are trained and dedicated to implementing these tools, a one-off cataloging of assets will have little positive impact. But by investing in appropriate tools and resources, businesses can improve productivity, cut unnecessary spending and eliminate this area of risk.

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