Software Assets: Are you aware of “Hidden” Software Assets?

Published by Mark Steel on
An iceberg representing hidden software assets; Software Assets, Disaster Recovery, Change Management, Compliance Management, Obsolescence

The Challenge

What constitutes an “Asset” in Industries such as Manufacturing, Process, Energy, Utilities, and Transportation is a question commonly asked. The most obvious would spring to mind such as Plant Vessels, Pipelines, Production lines, Robotics, Generators, and Facilities, however, very few would immediately think of their ‘Hidden Software Assets’.

What constitutes a ‘Hidden Asset’?

Software code that is used to control plant and associated files, documents, drawings and data stored in tiny silicon chips is a prime example, yet, without this information, your Company would ultimately grind to a halt, resulting in disruption to plant operations, costly downtime and losses (Financial, Quality, Reputation).

The need to protect physical assets is clear, however, with electronic information, this is usually out of sight, out of mind.

A study conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers in 2015, found that 90% of UK production companies lacked secure systems to protect their ‘Hidden Assets’ and as a result, suffered from security breaches. This represented a yearly 9% increase for large organisations and a 20% increase for smaller businesses.

The Solution

Take control and control change’

Software is fundamental to Production Processes, Product Quality and Safety. To minimise the consequences of Process System failure, it is essential that companies protect the Integrity of their Process Control System Software. There are five key risk areas where you should consider the importance of “Hidden Assets” and take action.

  1. Software Security
  2. Disaster Recovery
  3. Change Management (Process software Change, Configuration & Document Management)
  4. Compliance Management
  5. Obsolescence Management

The five key risk areas demonstrate the importance of ‘Hidden Assets’ in addition to that of Physical Assets. No Company would ever think of neglecting the physical infrastructure or security of a Manufacturing Plant, Utility, Facility, Transportation System, Production Line, Drilling Rig or Pipeline.   The same process should be applied to “Hidden Assets”. Do not forget the costly and dangerous problems that can result when process control systems are left unprotected!

I will be releasing a five part blog series in relation to the five Key Risk Areas as discussed over the next two weeks where I will expand on these areas.

You should know:

  • Up to 90% of UK companies have NO secure backup of process-critical application software – those that do often don’t know which is the most up-to-date revision. Floppy disks are NOT a reliable medium for long-term storage, especially in an industrial or process environment.
  • Original Equipment Manufacturers and Systems Integrators do NOT always routinely retain copies of all the software they supply to you on system hand-over.
  • Responsibility for software security is rarely assigned to a specific manager or department, so it is often overlooked, until disaster strikes.

The inspiration for this series of post comes in part from an article developed by our Business Development Manager Peter Beales on Software Assets, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”. This article can be accessed at OEDigital.

For more information on Asset Guardian Software, please contact myself:

Mark Steel
Business Development Manager

Written by Mark Steel. Mark Steel is a Business Development Manager for Asset Guardian Solutions Limited and cultivates relationships with existing and prospective clients in the UK, and is fully committed to increasing the profile of AGSL’s complete portfolio of capabilities, software products/solutions, and professional consulting services. Mark holds an MSc Degree in Manufacturing, Management & Technology from the Open University. He is an active member of Manufacturing UK, Manufacturing Execution Systems, Enterprise Software Sales Professionals, and Manufacturing Executives in the UK.