Like many large corporations, Cigna, a global health service company, has evolved, replacing paper-based processing with technology. The migration of processes, along with continual technological advancements, was slow-going, and it was before the concept of ITAM.
Cigna’s earliest technology involved mainframes and punch cards. These were large systems that did not change their physical location. As a result, tracking assets was not required.
Not long after this period, the personal computer (PC) made its way into the business world and changed everything. For Cigna, the migration from paper to personal computers took time as the initial PCs were expensive and the selection of business software was limited.
As PC use became widely adopted across Cigna’s business divisions, new challenges and questions were encountered setting the stage for ITAM:
- Who is considered the owner of the PC?
- How do you track assignment and movement?
- How do you manage the purchase and tracking of software?
- How do you collect and dispose of old equipment?
Over the years, Cigna has matured in its ITAM practices in response to these universal challenges faced by all companies.
The Evolution of Ownership
In the early years, business divisions held the budget for PC and software purchases and were therefore viewed as the owners of the PC. They made the decisions on what was purchased, who received it and how it was deployed, and finally, collected PCs upon termination. Collection and disposal was more of an “as needed” decision, rather than an organized approach.
As Cigna’s spend for PCs increased so did the need for increased management and control. As such, oversight and management for ordering and tracking PCs and software purchasing was centralized within the Finance department. IT Asset Management was mostly a manual process. Later on, an asset management tool was purchased to handle PC inventory and tie the asset to purchasing information. Additionally, a more comprehensive disposal management approach was developed, and disposal vendors were commissioned.
What were the Results?
Cigna’s PC-related policies addressed the number of devices allowed per person, collection of unused devices, redeployment, etc. For the most part, there was compliance, but there were challenges in inventory management and in developing an organized approach to refreshing the devices and software which led to increased costs.
In 2011 Cigna initiated a project to assess our IT asset management processes and practices which was broken into three phases:
- 360º process review: Assess current and desired future stand and perform a gap analysis, conduct cost benefit analysis and define implementation strategy for future state.
- PC discovery and reconciliation: Utilize current tool set to discover assets in use; reconcile against asset management records and collect unusable and surplus PCs.
- Develop formal refresh strategy: Understand current and future state initiatives, synthesize data from asset discovery and develop an ongoing and longtime plan and approach.
Upon completion of the project, Cigna’s IT asset management achieved repeatable processes and best-in-breed technologies. However, for PC asset management to be fully managed and optimized, it needed to progress from an operations view to a service view.
What was Next?
The new step was to transfer full responsibility for IT asset management from Finance to IT. To do so, an IT governance team was created to handle the overall management of end-user PCs. By centralizing the budgeting, forecasting, requisitioning, refresh activity and disposal management, IT asset management was put into the hands of a single organization from start to end.
Centralized accountability for IT asset management provided opportunity to achieve immediate quick wins including:
- Enhanced governance and asset management policies
- Increased oversight in managing exceptions
- A formal refresh program
- A PC donations program
- Initiated audit and metering of client software
- Better alignment to achieve success with Windows 7 migration
Centralization provides focus and drive toward implementation of several longer term strategies as well including:
- Asset management system enhancements and extended integration with software deployment tools
- Definitive software library development
- Unused client software reclamation
- Verification and compliance process enhancements
As a new team, we experienced a variety of challenges as the project progressed. But, we continue to stay focused on centralizing and managing the PC environment. We are excited about our future and the savings we can generate now that a single organization has been formed.
As our ITAM practices matured, we started the process of re-educating the company on topics including centralized budgeting and purchasing, inventory management, PC usage and disposal, and software licensing and compliance. We also committed to tighter communications between IT and Cigna’s business units to understand individual, departmental and company-wide issues and needs.
What are the recommendations for other organizations? Get started making incremental progress; don’t try to tackle everything at once. The following steps can be used as a guide to achieve successful IT asset management in your organization:
- Assess where you are currently against where you want to be
- Identify the gaps
- Define a plan and put defining policies and processes at the top of the priority list
- Have clearly defined responsibilities
- Communicate – it is important that IT Asset Management become part of the culture
The journey of IT asset management for Cigna has been a long and rewarding one that will continue to evolve with changes in the business and technology environment. A few final words for others: be flexible but hold true to your guiding principles, stay the course, celebrate incremental success, and know that the journey is ongoing.