The arrival of the Internet has propelled many insurance companies to reassess how they manage their assets. "When you open your assets to the outside world, it's like leaving the front door open," says Diana Beecher, senior vice president and CIO of Travelers Property Casualty Co. "You have to be very careful. Having automated ways to watch that front door and make sure it's not wide open is really important."Five years ago, the Hartford, Conn.-based insurance company conducted a comprehensive study of its IT asset management practices and determined that the automated processes it had in place for protecting source code on its host mainframes were adequate. But it wanted more control over its distributed software assets to protect them from unauthorized change and data corruption and ensure that new features were distributed precisely when scheduled.

Travelers, which has more than 2,300 desktop and laptop computers, implemented Tivoli's automated inventory system to scan and update each device attached to Travelers IT network. At the same time, the company invested in PVCS, a software configuration and change management tool from Merant plc, a U.K.-based software developer.

Using PVCS and a disciplined business methodology, Travelers ensures that the code its programmers develop for use in areas such as billing, claims and underwriting is not only tested for quality, but is not released unless and until it has received appropriate authorization.

"We think software is the most valuable asset," Beecher says. "It's not that difficult to count PCs or routers. Things you can touch and feel are a little bit easier to account for than the more esoteric ones."

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