IT Lifecycle Management 9-Point Series: Blog #5
IT Lifecycle Management From Procure-to-Pay
In this nine-part series our experts will share insights on game-changing technology lifecycle management practices for IT, operations, and finance to set your business up for success.
- IT Planning
- Technology Architecture Design
- Vendor Scorecard
- RFP Management
- Online Shopping Experience
- Price/Product Benchmarking
- Quote Management
- Service Order Workflow
- Contract Negotiations/Review
- Aggregated Buying Power
- Contract Approval Workflow
- Document Center
- Order Workflow
- Project Management
- Carrier Management
- Testing & Deployment
- Carrier Service Inventory
- Hardware Management
- Customized Technical Attributes
- Inventory Reconciliation
SERVICE & SUPPORT
- Help Desk / Tech Support / NOC
- Moves / Adds / Changes / Disconnects
- Vendor Management & Trouble Shooting
- Managed Network Services (MNS)
- Centralized and Normalized
- Consolidated Billing
- Invoice Workflow
- Bill Pay
- Invoice Audit & Dispute
- GL Coding
- AP Posting File
- Cost Allocation
- Budget Management
- Report Library
- Trend Analysis
- Dashboard / Metrics
Smaller organizations typically rely on Excel to track their inventory. While Excel might work for tracking a basic list of inventory, it fails to capture the technical attributes of such inventory, or to quickly tie back to events associated with the lifecycle of that inventory (i.e., orders, tickets, and contracts). At most, you might be able to capture reference IDs (i.e., telephone number, circuit ID, software license, serial number), a provider’s account number, monthly cost, and if you’re really detailed/organized, contract date(s). That’s not going to help you address a technical issue, or deal with that inventory long term.vCom has been working with businesses of all sizes for the past 15+ years, and has helped hundreds of companies regain control over their IT environment and associated spend. It still never ceases to amaze me how prevalent the inventory and expense management problem is. The lack of visibility and control transcends business size and industry. It’s a universal issue that most IT and finance executives will admit to, yet most will just stick with the status quo and won’t seek alternate options. And you can’t manage what you don’t know.
Of course, Excel doesn’t scale when you are a medium or large enterprise spread across multiple locations, and have hundreds or even thousands of inventory items across different technologies and service providers. Some large enterprises develop their own in-house tools using Microsoft SharePoint or Access, but really fall short of being able to capture what’s needed due to other priorities or lack of expertise. Most organizations limp along without having the right tools.
This lack of visibility drove the rise of IT Expense Management platforms to help make sense of inventory and how it ties back to charges. Over time, Expense Management had to evolve into Lifecycle Management, tracking the lifecycle of an IT asset from procurement through payment and analytics. Due to the high cost of such platforms, they were accessible only to the largest of enterprises. That’s when vCom came along and decided to make this type of solution accessible to any organization to solve this universal business problem. We made this possible by turning the financial model upside down, and making the provider pay in lieu of the customer, heavily subsidizing the cost of the software.
Are all IT Lifecycle Management platforms created equal when it comes to managing inventory? The answer is a resounding “No!”
All the Details
Capturing the technical details associated with an IT asset is a must for any IT Lifecycle Management platform – its table stakes. It must be service-specific to enable the flexibility of managing a router with a manufacturer warrantee and depreciation schedule; it must enable the capture of a SIP circuit ID, its binding posts, and associated call paths and DIDs; and it must allow the capture of the types of software licenses, and tie them back to users. What differentiates good from great is the ability to customize the attributes based upon the specific business needs. A hospital, for example, might store different emergency provider attributes associated with a circuit than, say, a bank or law firm, that are unique to its use of that IT asset.
The current state and/or use of an IT asset is also an important piece of information for preserving the resources of the organization. Organizations often either terminate assets or unnecessarily keep paying for them because they don’t know what they’re used for or what state they’re in. How many times have you kept paying for local lines for fear of disconnecting an alarm or elevator line by mistake? In some parts of the country, the cost of those lines has gone up from $20 in 2010 to $100 in 2017. And how many times did you open a drawer of a long-gone IT manager to find a bunch of phones in perfect condition that were unaccounted for when hiring new employees and ordering brand new phones.
Tie Back to Lifecycle
A sophisticated IT Lifecycle Management platform must also tie the IT asset to the associated charges on the invoice, and to the associated contract or service order that generated that IT asset in the first place. Otherwise, determining whether you’re being billed correctly on a monthly basis for an IT asset by combing through pages of invoices becomes like finding a needle in a haystack. The IT professional managing this asset should be able to also easily see the order details down to the emails with the provider during the installation process. Further, there must be a tie back to trouble tickets and outages to quickly identify chronic issues that necessitate replacing the asset.
Access on the Go
Having access to the inventory details from the comfort of a desk and a 27-inch monitor is fine and dandy when you’re a manager or have the luxury of being in the office. For field personnel who might need technical details on the go, a sophisticated IT Lifecycle Management platform must make all that inventory technical detail accessible on the go and on a mobile device screen. The true power of software is when it makes finding information easy when it’s needed most. When a network engineer is looking for a service provider circuit IT in the basement phone closet or the serial number of a router in a datacenter cage full of routers – that’s when it’s handy to not only see the inventory, but even have a picture of the location of where it’s installed (a valuable enhancement vCom added to our software thanks to feedback from customers attending our annual customer summit).
Knowing what IT assets you have, where you have them, and where they are in their lifecycle is half the battle for controlling your IT environment, and managing your organization’s spend in order to protect your bottom line. To achieve victory on this field of battle every time, choose vCom’s Lifecycle Management Platform.
Post your comments or questions for Sameer below to dive further into asset management.
Author: Sameer Hilal
Chief Operating Officer
Sameer Hilal is the Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of vCom Solutions. He effectively leads vCom to be a market leader in the implementation and support of advanced telecommunication solutions. In 2005, vCom was ranked as the # 1 Fastest Growing Private Company in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2006, vCom was ranked as the #51 Fastest Growing Company in the United States (Entrepreneur). LinkedIn