Information technology (IT) is the backbone of 21st Century businesses. In the past, IT and Managed IT Services were an important supporting character in the story of a business. Now, it’s the lead protagonist whose strength, endurance, and durability will define how the rest of the story plays out. Therefore, it’s no secret that IT lifecycle management is a top priority for businesses worldwide.
The global product lifecycle management market is on track to reach a value of $54.36 billion by 2030, at a CAGR of 8.6% from 2022. North America currently dominates the market, but IT advancements and increased digitization in countries like India and China will result in rapid growth for the Asia-Pacific market in the coming decade.
An increase in industrial internet-of-things (IIoT), cloud-based infrastructure, and widespread digital transformation is driving this rapid prioritization of technology lifecycle management. This is spread across every industry, with end users ranging from companies in sectors such as automotive and transportation, healthcare, retail, education, aerospace, and IT itself.
The benefits of robust IT lifecycle management are far-reaching. IT lifecycle management can help companies reach their business objectives and stay ahead of competitors in today’s brutally crowded landscape. The first step toward transformative IT lifecycle management is to gather a thorough understanding of what it entails and what its challenges and benefits are.
What Is IT Lifecycle Management?
In today’s world, IT lifecycle management is less to do with isolated individual products and more about the health of an IT ecosystem. This includes assets like software, operating systems, hardware, frameworks, mobile devices, and processes. IT lifecycle management includes everything from procurement and asset utilization to end of life.
Efficient and effective IT lifecycle management ensures that businesses can formulate strategies that prioritize growth and scalability, cost optimization, and security. World-class IT lifecycle management will also allow businesses to create consistent workflows that ebb and flow in harmony with their IT technology lifecycle.
IT asset lifecycle management helps companies come up with plans for all of their departments. Holistic understanding and optimal IT asset management give clarity for budgeting, which results in better allocation of resources. This process also helps companies design and implement automation initiatives and processes that can greatly optimize operations.
Leading lifecycle management guides companies with decommissioning certain technology assets or processes when they have run their course and aren’t required anymore. Essentially, IT lifecycle management allows companies to keep their IT infrastructure lean, with no extra fat to slow down, restrict, or compromise operations in any way.
The 5 Steps of IT Lifecycle Management
Step 1: Procurement
Technology asset procurement and provisioning is the first step in IT lifecycle management. Companies need to select and buy the right technology assets from the best supplier, all at the right volume and at the right time. New technology should be procured based on the specific requirements of a particular business.
Budget allocations for IT assets need to be in harmony with overarching business plans. Once the right assets are identified, this step will include creating and managing commercial documents such as purchase orders as well as other documentation like inventory sheets and accounting paperwork.
Step 2: Allocation
When the right IT assets have been identified and procured, businesses need to allocate those assets to the right places so that they can carry out their specific roles within the infrastructure. This process involves creating optimal routes for assets from a company’s inventory to their final place of utilization. The success of even the most robust assets depends on their allocation.
This step is all about putting assets into place and making sure that they’re installed properly. They need to be set up for use quickly and efficiently. As assets are moved and resettled, companies need to make the necessary status updates and upgrades in their asset databases. Visualizing and mapping dependencies between assets are also key components of this step.
Step 3: Implementation
Most IT assets will rightly spend the majority of their life in this phase. Step 3 is the whole reason why they have been purchased in the first place. In this stage of their lifecycle, IT assets will be put to use and evaluated on their ability to carry out specific tasks, have an impact on overall business goals and profit margins, and run without complications and challenges.
There are a lot of factors for businesses to consider and oversee in the implementation phase. For example, maintaining regulatory compliance is essential during this step. No matter how well the implementation of a particular asset is being conducted, all success could be erased if there are compliance blunders and general neglect of risks and regulations.
Step 4: Monitoring and Maintenance
The health of IT assets is vital to their performance. Therefore, monitoring and maintenance are invaluable in IT management. IT assets don’t come cheap. Businesses need to employ advanced monitoring tools and maintenance procedures to plug gaps, fix glitches, and ensure that assets aren’t breaking down before they should.
IT teams within organizations need to be aware of where every asset is in its lifespan so they can plan monitoring and maintenance more efficiently. Updating software licenses is an integral activity of this step. IT assets will age over time, and that inevitable aging comes with complications. Robust monitoring and maintenance practices can mitigate these challenges.
Step 5: Decommissioning
The final step in IT management is decommissioning those assets that have reached the end of life. IT teams should already know when an asset is close to the end and plan its de-installation and disposal in a way that isn’t disruptive. The dismantling of the dying asset needs to be done with care, and any sensitive data attached to that asset needs to be protected and backed up. Companies need to pay special attention to ensure that the disposal of hardware isn’t causing any environmental harm or disturbance.
While decommissioning software has its own sets of protocols, things are slightly different for hardware that has reached the end of life. The final step is to mark decommissioned assets as such.
Challenges of Not Having Top IT Lifecycle Management
Having efficient IT lifecycle management keeps all the cogs in a business working smoothly and without much hassle. In fact, the best technology lifecycle management should be nearly invisible, where the majority of work is done behind the scenes while the business reaps the benefits. Inversely, not having sufficiently robust lifecycle management system can be a big problem.
Cybersecurity becomes the number one challenge when it comes to a lack of IT lifecycle management. The average cost of a data breach last year was $9.44 million in the US and $4.35 million globally. Vulnerabilities in weak IT infrastructure or aging IT assets that aren’t being attended to will be prime targets for a horde of malicious attacks that are capable of causing catastrophic damage.
Suboptimal IT management will result in companies spending more on their IT infrastructure. Sometimes, they might even spend money on taking care of the wrong assets when swapping those assets out would be a cheaper long-term option. Poor IT lifecycle management fundamentally affects productivity, speed, and esprit de corps, and reduces profitability.
6 Key Benefits of IT Lifecycle Management
1. Operational Speed
Speed is synonymous with modernity. In the future, those who can’t work at breakneck speeds will fall behind. The competitive landscape is unforgiving, and anything less than world-class agility will not be sufficient. Well-planned IT lifecycle management will strengthen and empower companies with the power of speed. High operational speeds will be a defining differentiator.
2. Fewer Service Disruptions
Bulletproof IT infrastructure will ensure that customers, clients, and other users and stakeholders don’t experience disruptions while using a company’s service. Modern consumers have no patience for disruptions and extended service downtime. They will simply pack up and migrate to competing services.
Even the greatest IT architectures will never see their full potential if they aren’t thoroughly visible to IT teams. Having a solid lifecycle management plan in place will involve systems that offer full visibility. This is especially important as IT architecture continues to become more complex, distributed, and subject to fast evolution with every passing day.
We mentioned earlier the importance of ensuring regulatory compliance (for example, SOC 2). It can be particularly challenging without IT lifecycle management frameworks in place. Most SMEs will be greatly affected by the legal fees and troubles associated with even accidentally making regulatory compliance errors. A robust IT lifecycle management will protect against such issues.
The fundamental benefit of having IT lifecycle management is profitability. If IT infrastructure is cared for, it will enhance every aspect of a business. It will help lower expenses, increase profit margins, and provide a strong springboard for companies to generate revenue and rise to the upper echelons of their respective industries.
The last point in this list of benefits is perhaps the one that is even more important than profit-making. And that’s because if certain fundamental actions aren’t taken to protect our environment, everything will go to waste. IT lifecycle management will greatly help a business’ sustainability initiatives by not wasting key resources and irresponsibly disposing used assets.
IT lifecycle management is one of those processes that need to be custom designed for it to help companies. One-size-fits-all lifecycle management options typically do not serve well because they aren’t cognizant of the intricate business needs, goals, objectives, and history of a particular organization. A personalized design for IT lifecycle management is the way to go.
Mentioned above are some of the challenges of not having IT lifecycle management in place. Some of those same challenges may arise from poor IT management. And therefore, it’s not just about putting just any IT lifecycle management solution in place to tick a box. It’s about choosing the perfect solution to ensure that those challenges don’t disrupt a business.
Categories: Strategy, IoT, IT Management, IT, Technology