The first half of the calendar year is when property tax returns are due in most jurisdictions and your company’s finance team is likely to ask your IT staff for an accounting of the company’s technical assets and where they are located. This information is important, because it is one determinant of your company’s tax payment. For many IT departments, this annual request causes a big headache, resulting in a mad scramble to gather data and collect updates from business users about the systems they are using.
There are 4 common sets of changes to your company’s asset data that must be captured to provide your finance team with an accurate accounting.
1. New assets acquired since the last inventory
2. Assets removed from the environment
3. Assets repurposed from their original use
4. Assets moved to a new location
Fortunately, most of the data needed to identify these changes is probably already available in your various IT systems – eliminating the need for a manual inventory exercise.
New assets data can typically be found in both your IT change management system and your procurement system. Change management records will often indicate where the asset was installed, and the procurement records will reveal what organization/user ordered the asset. At the time the asset is activated in your IT environment, your discovery and infrastructure administration tools should register the asset’s presence and record it in the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) as an active configuration item.
Ideally, your asset records will be updated when an asset is removed or retired from your environment, but this isn’t always the case. The good news is when an asset is deactivated and removed, it will stop appearing in discovery tools and it will likely be deleted from the list of resources your infrastructure administration tools are managing. While the absence of an active resource doesn’t necessarily mean that the item has been removed (it could just be turned off, but still present), this is a strong indicator the asset may not be present and isn’t taxable.
Asset repurposing within the context of your organization may not result in a change to your tax liability; however, if the asset has transitioned from an internal operations use to supporting the delivery of goods and services to customers, then there may be some impact that must be investigated. The more common reason asset ownership and usage information is collected is to allocate the overhead costs of property tax to the business functions that benefit from the resources. Changes in the dependency and relationship mappings within your CMDB can be a good indication the use of an asset may have changed. (For example, if it is a server that originally had a sales database running on it and is now a dependency for a group of HR systems, then the asset was likely repurposed.)
Because taxes often relate directly to the physical location of the asset, it is important to know where your assets are located. For some portable assets, such as laptop computers, this could be the relocation of the employee assigned to the asset to a new office location. For infrastructure assets, movement could be the result of closing an office building or moving a data center to a new location. Your network administration records are often the best source of data about where your assets are physically located. Because most network devices are in known and fixed locations, it can typically be assumed assets directly connected to a network device are in the same locations.
Reconciling data from different sources
Whether you are doing a one-time cleaning exercise to support an asset inventory request from your finance team or seeking to keep your asset data records clean and current throughout the year as changes occur, the approach should be the same. Your asset management system and CMDB should be the source of accuracy for this information and the data you feed into these systems should be always complete, correct and updated.
When you are integrating different data sources to update your asset data and configuration records, conflicts are likely to be encountered. That’s when a data quality solution, such as Blazent, can help. Using sophisticated algorithms, Blazent can help you identify what asset data has been added, what has been removed and what has changed and requires updates. With Blazent, there is no reason for tax time to be a headache and a mad scramble. You will know with confidence your current assets and where they are located. To learn more, visit www.blazent.com.