If Canadian enterprises want to do a better job of tracking their hardware, the solution might be a simple matter of putting stickers on their PCs.

Zurich North America’s Canadian plans and controls manager, Nikki Cule, says her firm uses the stickers to help individual users learn when their

machines were coming off lease. This was only one part of a company-wide effort at Zurich to get its inventory under control.

“”Most users couldn’t recognize a machine’s serial number if their life depended on it,”” Cule says. “”But when they saw their machine was about to expire, you better believe they were calling in to IT to get it replaced.””

Cule says Zurich North America — which employs 650 people at the insurance giant’s Canadian operation — has also managed to cut back 80 per cent of its telecom costs by better managing invoices and improving the process by which costs are approved.

This includes consolidating the invoice reconciliation to one person, which Cule says is important when managers don’t know what they’re signing.

“”We had one $10,000 invoice that one manager signed off every month simply because that’s what his predecessor did,”” she says. “”Was that something we needed? Was it something that’s still being utilized?””

Utilization should also come up when new staff come on board, says Shawn O’Neill, senior services manager for ASAP Software in Mississauga, Ont. He estimates that companies can save 10 to 20 per cent of their software costs by reallocating applications.

“”If one person is joining your firm, chances are it’s because someone else has left,”” he says. “”There are also a lot of requests for software that’s just used for one project, and then someone else requests the same application for something else.””

Anna Kennedy, who has been leading an IT asset management project at Toronto-based TD Bank, says senior executives are demanding to see higher utilization not merely in the products themselves, but also in the “”freebies”” that are included (and later ignored) in many contracts.

That’s one of the reasons she says asset management staff should report directly to the CIO.

“”You can have siloed business units, but you’ve got to centralize the IT,”” she says. “”Otherwise you’ll have everyone managing their own little IT empire, and that gets expensive.””

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