While building a new asset management system from the ground up may sound alluring to some and put a gleam in the eye of some technical folk, most CIOs know better. The inherent risks and expense many times far outweigh the more reasonable option to purchase a commercial software solution.
Does Building Make Sense for Your Business?
According to Jeffery Neyland, Principal at Montbrook Associates, Management and Technology Consultancy, there are some important questions to ask before committing to your decision to build.
- For example, is it strategic to your organization to build your own IT asset management system? If it will increase revenue, improve service or reduce expenses, then it’s strategic and may very well warrant a ground up effort. But it’s imperative that all the costs and risks are fully understood and the business be fully supportive.
- However, if the goal is something more contextual to your organization, such as IT asset management, you are probably better served by modifying your processes to meet the capabilities of a solution that is readily available on the market.
- How long will your internal asset management system provide a competitive advantage, if any? Depending on your industry and the pace of emerging technologies, it’s advisable not to project a lifespan much beyond two years.
- Can you accurately document your expected ROI? If your expected savings include soft costs, then it’s not realistic. While saving time in a function or process is nice, it’s not considered a cost reduction unless that function is completely eliminated. On the other hand, if the issue is compliance driven, then you simply need to find the lowest cost solution to meet that need
The Simple Technical Downsides of Trying to Build an Asset Management System
There are major drawbacks to building an asset management system internally:
- First, it is bound to be a labor-intensive and unwieldy process, perhaps requiring the use of spreadsheets that may be inconvenient for both IT service desk staff and end users.
- Second, custom IT asset management solutions are rarely real-time and actionable. CIOupdate.com reports that these types of self-made solutions are unable to automate the requesting or the fulfillment of even routine IT services. This leaves many companies scrambling to build these solutions themselves too or to integrate a third party provider down the road.
- Ongoing maintenance and enhancement will always be a challenge, unless you can afford dedicated staff that are adequately backed up. All too often homegrown solutions become a real liability because all of the knowledge was with a recently departed ex-employee.
Perhaps the most compelling argument for choosing an off-the-shelf solution is the conclusion drawn by CIOupdate.com that “commercial products offer scale and reliability far surpassing most internal efforts.”
So, while there are pros and cons to building a system from the ground up, most industry experts agree that – especially for companies embarking on their first IT asset management solution – a packaged commercial solution is the best choice.