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In a previous post we had observed that there are many intangible areas that may have a bearing and may affect IT asset management that cannot be serviced or managed by a piece of hardware here or a piece of software there. We looked at one of the key intangible areas – user perception and experience – in detail and figured out ways to manage it. We said that if managed well, user perception and experience can be used as a positive input in your CIO experience.

In this post we can look at some of the other key intangible areas that are important for you to consider and manage as an IT manager/CIO. Some of these areas include: 1. Multi-country aspects; 2. Organisational culture; 3. Organisational politics (internal and external).

Multi-country aspects

Strong local policies: Many country offices will be under “autonomous” local management. In many a case there will be overlaps / conflicts between global IT assets management policies and local assets management policies. I have faced this problem many times in my previous organisation. The best approach here is to distinguish between policies that have “legal” undertones and those that don’t. I would suggest that where there are legal undertones the country assets management policies should apply and in the other case the global policies should apply. The reasons for this is obvious. You do not want to run into any legal issues in a far-off country that you can’t handle.

Language issues: Many a time you will find that the local IT person has misinterpreted a very, to you, critical IT assets policy.

This is because, even if the country is an English-speaking one, there are nuances of the English language are sometimes very dense. For example a policy which says “Little deviation is allowed from this policy.” would be interpreted in some countries as “a little” deviation is allowed! It is best to say “No deviation is allowed etc.”

Get the country manager on board: This is quite important. No asset management policy can be successful if the local “boss” opposes it. Regular phone calls with the country manager is important in this context.

Be prepared for hand-outs: Sometimes it may be necessary to “bribe” far-flung countries to implement some of the key policies. Software / hardware essential for the implementation of some of the policies may need to be “donated” to the country i.e. without cross-charges.

Listen to the local IT person: You will need to get inputs from local IT people before framing global policies. Some policies may be culturally unacceptable in some countries. For example many countries have a strict hierarchical culture. So a policy that says that you will give only one laptop to an employee may need to be overlooked in some countries where the country manager may demand two. I faced this particular problem in many countries.

Organisational culture

Hierarchical vs. non-hierarchical: It is easier to implement policies in an organisation that is hierarchical than in one that is not (surprise!). My previous organisation was an NGO (non-profit, charity) and it did not have a hierarchical culture. So all policies needed to be “sold” rather than “told.” Of course, most organisations will be somewhere in between fully hierarchical and fully flat.

Process-compliant vs. non-process-compliant: Some organisations are naturally process-compliant while others are not. You approach needs to be different in the two types of organisations. Process-compliant organisations will easily adapt to your IT assets management policies. The other type of organisation will need selling and “persuading.” Throw country-specific cultural differences into the mix, and it is a field that you need to tread very carefully.

Open vs. closed organisations: Some organisations are open to change while others are not. Any policy of yours need to be suited to the culture. Open cultures tend to accept new and drastic policy changes much better than closed ones.

Access for differently-abled persons: This is now a requirement in many organisations. However, you find that certain organisation impose this strictly. Your IT assets management policy will need to comply with this organisational need.

Organisational politics (internal and external)

CSR: Many organisations have CSR (corporate social responsibility) policies that may dictate IT assets procurements and disposal. Many organisations give away working systems to charities and other worthwhile causes after a couple of years of use. There may also be requirements to buy from specific organisations to support certain causes.

Governance decisions: There may be strong opinions within your management team about certain areas. For example, there may be anti-corporate people who would advocate use of open source systems rather than proprietary ones. I had this problem in my previous organisation. There were always a couple of board members who would ask why we did not go the “open source way””. I had to regularly prepare justifications for the use of proprietary systems. Some of your assets management policies may depend on this.

Political posturing: The political stand of an organisation may directly affect your IT assets management policy. Many organisations will have positions which will not allow the purchase of items from certain organisations or certain kind of organisations, for example tobacco companies or companies employing child labour etc. You need to be aware of this very clearly. You cannot be seen doing things against company policy.

In this post we  looked at some of the key intangible areas that are important for you to consider and manage as an IT manager/CIO. Some of these areas include: 1. Multi-country aspects; 2. Organisational culture; 3. Organisational politics (internal and external). We found that IT assets management approach is heavily influenced by various factors in these areas.