ALM

Network Asset Management

Network asset management lets you collect vital product data from active physical units and any known, scanned, or connected devices. This asset data includes model numbers, serial numbers, and other data. This information is collected online or offline and sent to Fulcrum CATS CenterPoint to verify, reconcile, and update all connected back-office systems (OSS, BSS, ERP, etc.).

Finance, Operations, and Supply Chain have to come together to maximize the return on every asset dollar spent, and to do that it’s critical that they have a clear understanding of the shared value equation. For many, this means scrutinizing CAPEX and OPEX from end to end, and deferring or lowering capital expenditures without increasing operational costs. 

This approach typically means having visibility, insight, and control of your assets (Infrastructure, tools, equipment, gear, components, hardware, software, etc.) from end to end.  This requires you to know exactly what’s deployed, active, dormant, hoarded, stolen, misappropriated, overstocked, or understocked. Relying solely on ERP systems, or purchase documentation to provide a full accounting of your network assets is similar to being half blind.  Those, like OSS and BSS systems, show a partial view from a specific time, but do not show the whole picture.  In short, they are a place to a place to start—not stop. 

To have a competitive advantage, you need a network asset management plan. Otherwise you will continually overpay for or under support your network. Your corporate network – and bottom line - are at risk.  Network asset management has a major impact on critical CAPEX and OPEX decisions, which is why you need end-to-end visibility of all network assets.

The fact that your infrastructure is growing is undisputed; it’s a fact. Each day new assets are being added. It’s the responsibility of system admins to track and manage these assets. It’s the responsibility of Finance to audit and purchase. It’s the responsibility of supply chain to plan these assets in their lifecycle. Many stakeholders across an enterprise have a very vested interest in making sure they have complete mastery over the extensive, geographically diverse, expensive assets. Fulcrum Technologies can give you that, with CATS ALM. 

www.Fulcrum.net

Network Asset Management Photo.jpg

Integrating Asset Lifecycle Management with Enterprise Applications

An Asset Lifecycle Management Suite is a powerful and flexible solution for tracking and managing your infrastructure assets and inventory throughout their lifecycle. Fulcrum’s CATS provides a wide range of features, modules and functionality to meet many different asset management scenarios. At the same time, CATS is flexible and scalable to allow a wide range of implementation and integration options that will fit within almost any enterprise ecosystem.

While CATS can function as a stand-along asset management system, some of the greatest value that it brings is the ability to integrate with any number of enterprise systems that could benefit from the data that CATS Mobility collects and stores.

The CATS system is designed around field users collecting information about assets as they are physically encountered and acted upon. As such, CATS integration with existing systems provides accurate and up to date physical inventory status using the CATS interfaces services. External systems including financial, planning, ordering, purchasing, warehouse, spares management, etc. have specific sets of needs that we can tailor our interface records to meet. 

For example, there are several areas in the asset lifecycle that are considered financially triggering events, including initial PO receipt, installation and project go-live, repair and warranty execution, inter-business transfers, excess availability and re-use, retirement and disposition.

A thorough analysis with each customer determines what is considered a financially triggering event based on their business needs and their ERP system’s needs.  Once established those rules are applied to CATS data entry validation and Interface configurations.

CATS integration includes a multi-step approach:

  1. Configure CATS to include external systems business logic and validations rules at the point of data entry.
  2. Evaluate each transaction as it occurs to determine external system notification needs.
  3. Capture an event record of the transaction and any transient data needed for external systems for later processing.
  4. Establish processing rules applying any additional integration rules required by each external system (i.e. rolling up of transactions, pending of transactions, processing order of transactions, automatic reprocessing of erred integration records, etc.)
  5. Schedule CATS integration services and configure the services to create interface files in required formats and delivery methods.
  6. Establish error handling and management methods.

Fulcrum’s implementation teams have a wide array of previous CATS integrations to draw on and reference providing support and guidance for our clients when determining business requirements for each integration.  Some examples:

> Transfer integrations might exclude transactions for inventory that is inactive, at a repair location, in a disposed or retired status, non-trackable part type, in a pending status in external system, have not been assigned a financial asset id in external system, etc.

Transfer integrations might include transactions on inventory that is moving from one location to another, have a change of business unit or owner, have a change of asset label, serial number or part number, etc.

Transfer data entry validations might include preventing transfers to inactive locations, to unapproved projects, across business units, to invalid locations and business unit combinations, etc.

Transfer integration records may be “rolled up” to bypass consecutive intermediate transfer transactions to generate a single transaction showing movement from the external system assets current location to CATS current location, reducing external system processing time.

CATS can communicate in a multitude of ways to meet a wide range of needs and requirements.

With any integration between two systems, there are often numerous considerations to consider, including:

  1. Whether CATS is deployed as a Hosted or On-Premise installation.
  2. Needs for synchronous or asynchronous transmission.
  3. Batch, real-time or On-demand frequencies.
  4. Data exchange methods – HTTP or FTP/SFTP, Direct database access, JMS messaging, Web Services, etc.

The answers to any of these considerations could affect the simplicity or complexity of the implementation of the integration.

For those looking to deploy quickly, a file transfer methodology provides the most lightweight and simple integration option. CATS provides a number of options to provide data files that can be available for external systems. The following lists some options in increasing complexity.

  1. Data Forms that provide data lookups and can be used to manually export data into .csv file format. These forms are provided in the CATS Web UI and can be made available to different user groups through configuration.
  2. Query Builder results, which can be modified by users through the CATS Web UI. Query Builder results are in .csv file format, and are based upon accessing existing CATS database views. Query Builder results can be scheduled to be run and emailed to users at a desired frequency.
  3. Services can be configured that extract data into several types of file formats (.csv, .txt, .xml) and placed into a directory or JMS messaging queue accessible by users or external systems.
  4. Services can be scheduled to run on a desired frequency, and can also include additional validation and error handling options.
  5. Services can be configured to monitor directories and message queues for the existence of data files or messages in different file formats (.csv, .txt, .xml, .jms) that CATS can select and load into the CATS database. Error handling and validation options can be instituted.
  6. CATS REST API is available for external systems to post transactional data to the CATS system.

One of the primary considerations when implementing the CATS application is how to populate the system with inventory and asset data. There are a various options available, depending upon the client’s needs and maturity level with asset management in general. This can range from performing an initial inventory in conjunction with the CATS system implementation, all the way to a comprehensive data conversion with one or more enterprise systems.

An initial inventory may be an option for clients who are implementing an asset tracking or asset management system for the first time. In this scenario, there is often no legacy data for assets and inventory, or if data is available, it is highly suspect for data integrity. Either a client’s internal team or a contracted team would travel between locations where trackable equipment resides, and perform the initial identification of asset and non-serialized inventory into the CATS application. This option may present a higher cost either materially in contractor hours, or in changing focus of internal teams that are not typically tasked with this type of work. However, this option does present a time-boxed option for getting the asset and inventory data quickly into CATS.

Another option for those clients with little to no, or suspect, legacy data is to perform the initial load of the asset and non-serialized inventory data into CATS in conjunction with performing the business processes that involve handling the trackable equipment. This is typically done by focusing on distribution centers first, where equipment moves through prior to being shipped to field locations, and at locations where excess equipment is consolidated from the field. This is often augmented with an Audit schedule of field locations, to allow for capture of those locations’ trackable equipment over a reasonable time period.

Over time the CATS system is populated with data as the system is exercised. Initial costs should be lower than dedicating an inventory team to perform the initial identification, as described in the first option. However, this option isn’t time-boxed, so there may be more ambiguity as to when the majority of trackable equipment has been identified, and the ability to realize full benefits from the asset and inventory data may take longer to manifest.

For a client that has legacy asset and inventory data available, and there is a level of confidence in that data, a data conversion plan is an attractive option. Within this approach, there are several different methods available to load the data into the CATS application. Options can include having users load Excel data files directly into CATS via web forms, setting up one time jobs within CATS that systematically ingest data, to implementing incremental loads of initial and delta data extracts through a dedicated interface.

Costs associated with performing data conversions will range commensurately with the level of systematic process needed. High degrees of system based integration will cost more to setup and run than simple import processes used. However, a direct data conversion will preclude the need for hiring dedicated inventory teams and can provide a sooner benefit return of implementing CATS.

Fulcrum’s implementation teams are well versed in the different options available to load the CATS system with asset and inventory data and work with our clients to identify the best options for them. Often this is a combination of different options available. As an example, a data conversion and then an audit of field level locations within an initial time frame to true up discrepancies that would inevitably occur with snapshot data. The goal of the Fulcrum implementation team is to get the CATS system providing benefits for the client, with the least amount of disruption to the user base, as soon as possible. 

Fulcrum/MDSI Webinar: 5G is Coming; Your Assets Are On The Line

5G wireless networks are going to usher in a new age of higher data rates, Industry 4.0, IoT devices, and driverless cars. To support the millions of devices invading our lives we must first take all of our supporting infrastructure to the next level. This transformation will have a significant impact on Communication Service Provider (CSP) assets and infrastructure, and those companies who have a solid Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM) practice in place will have the most cost efficient roll-out. The fact is, equipment and other assets move around a lot during their lifecycle – whether it is due to regular maintenance, the upheaval of merger/acquisition activity, or the ‘technology cascade’ that occurs when new equipment is deployed and old equipment is reassigned to new locations or retired.

Information is power. With the right information you can make smarter decisions, faster.

The asset information collected and managed by an ALM system can dramatically transform the effectiveness of your organization. Armed with real-time asset information, your teams in Accounting and Finance, Operation and Engineering, Planning/Supply Chain, and IT can work more accurately and efficiently. Gain full visibility of your hardware landscape - what you have, where it is, and how it can be used. Then you can determine when to purchase, sell, redeploy, repair, or recycle your 5G (or other) assets. 

The MDSI and Fulcrum Technologies partnership provides tailored technology solutions for telecom, cable, and data center infrastructure environments – focused on reducing costs, centralizing visibility, and optimizing value at every stage of the asset lifecycle. 

The time to prepare is now. Hear overviews and strategies from experts who have implemented best practice solutions for some of the largest carriers in the world, helping to manage literally billions of dollars of Network Assets and CPE Equipment.

The webinar will be May 3, 2017 11:00 AM Pacific, SIGN UP HERE:

Fulcrum CEO Brent Bauer Speaking at ISE Expo 2017 in Orlando - September 12, 2017

Brent Bauer, a frequent speaker on Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM), will be speaking at the ISE Expo in Orlando, Florida, on September 12th, at the Orange County Convention Center. He will be presenting "Asset Lifecycle & Supply Chain Best Practices in Telecom, Data Centers, and NFV/SDN Environments."  

Are you an information and communications technology (ICT) network professional looking to stay current with the latest network technologies and infrastructure solutions in a rapidly changing industry? Mark your calendar for ISE EXPO 2017, September 12-14 at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida.

Asset Lifecycle Management Benefits:

CATS is a comprehensive suite of ALM software that will automate and improve any efforts currently underway to manage information associated with network assets for the benefit of any group within your organization.  Here are some of the many benefits:

  • Eliminate the purchase of duplicate equipment.
  • Reduce the inventory level of spare equipment.
  • Assure that invoiced equipment has really been received and it matches the Purchase Order.
  • Follow equipment through the return & repair process.
  • Deter theft and fraud with increased audit trail accountability.
  • Achieve property tax and reporting compliance.
  • Vastly improve accuracy of ERP, OSS & BSS systems.
  • Reduce repair and replacement expense through warranty tracking at part and asset level.
  • Improve the efficiency of data center technicians by helping them find spares quickly and giving visibility into network information.

To get the benefits of Asset Lifecycle Management in your enterprise, company, or organization, visit www.Fulcrum.Net today.

Secure Mobile Phone Scanning Software

When choosing a mobile solution front end to track and manage your critical assets, infrastructure, and equipment, you need to consider a few “must-have” features.  

First, you should have a mobility solution that can be configured to let any worker in any environment scan 1D, 2D, or Micro PDF barcodes.  You also want that mobile software to work on any major scanner or smartphone scanning platform, so you have flexibility, choices, and known interfaces.  Whether your people are in the field, the warehouse, or back office, they will need a reliable, consistent method of capturing ALL transactional data to feed your fixed asset database.  From an ergonomic perspective, you want that worker to perform asset scans with the least amount of attempts required, capturing asset data as it flows organically throughout its lifecycle.

And every role throughout the supply chain workflow is unique, with a unique set of needed functionality.  Because of this, you want a solution that has multiple-step processes which can be configured for different types of users. 

When tracking assets to the tops of snowy mountains and into rattlesnake infested cell sites in the desert, we have learned a valuable lesson; you also never know when you’re going to be connected, so your solution needs to work perfectly online, and can perfectly collect data in a ‘batch mode’ when offline. 

Lastly, in this era where intellectual property as a competitive advantage in the enterprise, having enterprise-grade security from end-to-end for your mobile solution is invaluable.   This level of security ensures your collected proprietary data remains uncompromised.  It requires having a secure log-on, user limited permissions, and encrypted password protection.  It should also allow you to connect in real-time and through a secure transport layer behind your own firewall.

These are all best practices that we’ve implemented in major Communication Service Providers in North America and abroad.  If you want to talk with one of our consultants on how to perfect your enterprise mobile scanning, email INFO@Fulcrum.net.  We would love to help.

Why We Don't Barcode People (But Could)

From the very first day barcodes were introduced, conspiracy theorists have publically worried about a future where every individual is marked with a barcode which is encoded with identifying data, bank account numbers, sensitive records, or any other valuable piece of information. Many of them have also theorized that the barcode creators went so far as to embed “666” into the barcode structure – a theory that has been repeatedly and thoroughly debunked.

The concept of barcoding humans – considered a workplace’s most valuable asset – certainly makes a very interesting science fiction story, but the reality of that scenario is that it wouldn’t be an optimal way to ‘mark’ a human.  For starters, barcoded data is very static, so anything you encode originally will be what is encoded forever. You couldn’t account for new medical situations, life changes, or ID updates with a static barcode tattooed to your wrist.

In theory, you could use a 2D barcode to provide access to a specific URL where content would be kept up-to-date. 2D barcodes also have an ‘error correction’ ability which means tarnished barcode tattoos could potentially still be read.

A more likely scenario would be to install a microscopic GPS or RFID transmitter underneath a human’s skin, done in a way that is discreet and non intrusive with regular motion.  This would allow the chips to send the human’s current data to receivers who can use it to access records, accounts, updates and more.

Regardless of what type of asset you have - human or fixed - Fulcrum Technologies can give you visibility, insight, and control over it through every possible lifecycle stage.   We've done it around the world with millions of assets - saving our customers millions of dollars. 

Data Reconciliation for Your Asset Database of Record

So you used Fulcrum Technologies mobile scanning solutions to amass a huge amount of data about your physical inventory, assets, and critical infrastructure in the field.  Then what do you do with that data?  The first step in making the data transform into actionable data is through reconciling that data to create an accurate, real-time fixed asset accounting database.  Traditional ledgers are often years out of date with various capitalization limits and accounting approaches. The best practice is to correct these deficiencies and create asset records that can be easily maintained and audited in the short, medium, and long-term future.

An in depth review of the accounting records will often present the structure, paradigm, and path that needs to be followed. The assets attributes like age, type and available detail will populate the field data requirements and show how you should conduct the reconciliation.

Automated processes can connect your field data with your “books”. In many cases, the reconciliation can be completed with this single step, but often it’s more complex. If necessary, you can physically match material assets between the two data sets that were not connected electronically so that any material discrepancies can be resolved.

This central reconciliation should also take (and verify) inputs from any connected system, whether it is OSS, BSS, ERP, or Legacy, so it has another perspective into the data.  Then the new asset database of record can push out the best possible data to those same connected systems, so you can maintain accurate records at every location.  This process makes every single aspect of your asset records better at ever possible reference point, improving company wide CAPEX, OPEX, and business efficiencies.  

At Fulcrum Technologies, We Make Asset Superheroes.

To survive and thrive in a changing environment, successful companies create Asset Superheroes to track their most valuable assets as well as deploy next generation technologies in an efficient and timely manner. As a result, these successful companies operate at peak performance while reaping maximum benefit from their capital investments.

CFO/Accounting and Finance Managers, Supply-Chain Executives, and Network Operations/Engineering Executives and Managers can all become Superheroes with powerful, intelligent, flexible Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM), saving their company millions of dollars in CAPEX.  These Superheroes use CATS ALM, a solution trusted around the world.

But with great power comes great responsibility.  We ask that you not abuse your new-found abilities with your coworkers. 

Some CATS users are unable to handle their newfound Superhero ALM skills.  

Some CATS users are unable to handle their newfound Superhero ALM skills.  

Fulcrum Technologies CATS ALM Solution Featured on RCR Wireless:

Fulcrum ALM was featured in an article in the RCR Wireless Opinion Page "Should telecoms be OK with losing $90B per year on waste?":

Should telecoms be OK with losing $90B per year on waste?   Over 50% of a telecom’s annual capital expenditure is invested in acquiring expensive network assets that are the foundation of their services for the customers. This capex number globally is $350 billion, which is a painful hit to the bottom line. What’s even more staggering is how much of that capex is wasted.  According to a 2015 TeleManagement Forum survey, asset managers reported an average asset accuracy rate of only 74%. This means $90 billion dollars per year is wasted due to purchasing duplicate equipment, inefficient reuse of excess inventory and spare equipment, theft, fraud, hoarding, inaccurate warranty tracking and more.  In any other industry, this would not be tolerated. In the telecom asset and infrastructure world, however, it has become commonplace to assume a systemwide failure to accurately track these critical assets. Validating this, the same telecom executives who only had visibility, insight and control of 74% of their assets, said an 84% level of accuracy would be “acceptable.” Making it more painful is that the asset losses are avoidable with an asset lifecycle management software and services solution in place.  The problem started in 1984, when the Bell system was broken up into 29 different operators. These operators were suddenly faced with P&L responsibilities they previously didn’t have to worry about. They all recognized the need to track and manage their expensive network assets, but all 29 tackled it in 29 different ways. They made various types of notes and lists on every visible asset. Those notes and lists gave way to ledgers, and ledgers gave way to spreadsheets. Some of these spreadsheets then rolled up into a variety of operating support systems, business support systems, ERP and network polling solutions, which produced an asset database of record considered “good enough” to track the full ALM.  Many telecoms today still attempt ALM through paper trails, spreadsheets, ERP, OSS or BSS. The problem is these solutions have one common weakness – a significant delta between what happens with assets in the real world and what is reflected in the asset-tracking database. To have accurate visibility, insight and control of your assets from end to end, you have to have ALM in the center of multiple systems. This improves the accuracy of the data by means of data reconciliation as well as data collection. A great ALM solution can reconcile and verify any and all asset data regardless of the source(s), to provide every connected system with the most accurate data possible, at either a high or low level. This ensures the integrity of CSP asset information, reduces the need for physical audits and serves as the database of record for all assets.  Because infrastructure costs are so significant, stakeholders (and shareholders) are starting to demand an accuracy rate closer to 100%. Network operations, engineering executives, CFOs, accounting, finance managers and supply chain executives are all starting to test better ALM for a number of reasons:  –It reduces or eliminates the purchase of duplicate equipment.  –It allows for the efficient reuse of excess inventory and spare equipment.  –It gives visibility into invoiced equipment to provide an understanding of what has really been received and if it matches the purchase orders.  –It gives visibility into the status of equipment going through the return and repair process.  –It reduces theft, fraud and hoarding.  –It gives communication service providers an accurate picture of what is actually in use (as well as where the inventory and assets reside) to allow for accurate tax payments.  –It supports internal controls to allow for compliance, which greatly reduces organizational and regulatory risks.  –It removes excessive repair and replacement expense through accurate warranty tracking.  –It also allows field technicians to locate spares quickly, with visibility into network information, revision numbers and updates.  The ability to use ALM to reduce and optimize capex becomes a telecom’s biggest strategic advantage in a fiercely competitive global marketplace. ALM is the complete end-to-end management of network equipment through each of the many lifecycle stages – from acquire to retire. These stages include, among others, receipt of shipment; warehousing and spares management; picking and shipping; “minimum/maximum” settings; transfers; assembly; installation; deployment; maintenance; upgrades; repairs; returns; audits; cycle counts; and decommissioning.  A complete solution takes ALM a step further, adding a mobile solution to provide accurate, real-time information that allows you to keep track of where every asset is – across the field, warehouse, datacenter or back office. It can be configured to let any worker scan 1D, 2D or micro PDF barcodes with the least number of attempts required, capturing data as it flows organically throughout its lifecycle. The right solution should work on any major scanner or smartphone scanning platform in any environment. Of course, this mobile solution should also require enterprise-grade security, ensuring the data you collect remains uncompromised. This includes a secure logon, user limited permissions, and encrypted password protection to safely connect to any integrated system through a secure transport layer behind your own firewall.  ALM mobile solutions allow any field technician to collect the information needed when and where changes occur. These updates are captured in real time and communicated to the systems that rely on different types of asset information.  Implementing initial planning, multiple-step processes could be configured for different types of users, ensuring intelligent, directed decision support and visibility into all inventory at every step, whether the field tech is offline or online. Intelligent decision support tools would allow you to see and control everything you need to accomplish your job, no matter who you are, what mobile platform you are using or where you are located.  A full ALM solution includes software, services, asset tags and mobile hardware to make sure your solution brings you the highest possible asset assurance. From a best-practice perspective, a productive ALM suite tailors and customizes its routines to match your specific business processes.  The many departments within a telecom that work with network assets do so in a variety of ways. This requires initial business analysis and consulting around the needs of all departments, and involves the implementation of holistic process improvements to maximize operational efficiencies.  As part of the set-up process, there is a data clean up and preload of legacy asset data into the ALM database, which may require an audit of all network and warehouse sites. When that’s completed, the full software solution can be deployed, which includes integration between the ALM application and other key enterprise applications. To ensure successful adoption, a proper and thorough training of ALM system users also happens up front.  The fact is, telecom equipment and other assets move around frequently during their lifecycle – whether it’s due to regular maintenance, the upheaval of mergers and acquisition activity, or the technology cascade that occurs when new equipment is deployed and old equipment is reassigned to new locations or retired. Successful CSP organizations use ALM to get visibility, gain insight and take control of their assets, with the ultimate goal of driving the accuracy score up towards 100%.  For information on Fulcrum ALM, visit  FULCRUM TECHNOLOGIES  today.    To read this article at RCR, as well as other fantastic articles from RCR, please visit the incredibly resourceful  RCR site, starting with this article's original post .    

Should telecoms be OK with losing $90B per year on waste?

Over 50% of a telecom’s annual capital expenditure is invested in acquiring expensive network assets that are the foundation of their services for the customers. This capex number globally is $350 billion, which is a painful hit to the bottom line. What’s even more staggering is how much of that capex is wasted.

According to a 2015 TeleManagement Forum survey, asset managers reported an average asset accuracy rate of only 74%. This means $90 billion dollars per year is wasted due to purchasing duplicate equipment, inefficient reuse of excess inventory and spare equipment, theft, fraud, hoarding, inaccurate warranty tracking and more.

In any other industry, this would not be tolerated. In the telecom asset and infrastructure world, however, it has become commonplace to assume a systemwide failure to accurately track these critical assets. Validating this, the same telecom executives who only had visibility, insight and control of 74% of their assets, said an 84% level of accuracy would be “acceptable.” Making it more painful is that the asset losses are avoidable with an asset lifecycle management software and services solution in place.

The problem started in 1984, when the Bell system was broken up into 29 different operators. These operators were suddenly faced with P&L responsibilities they previously didn’t have to worry about. They all recognized the need to track and manage their expensive network assets, but all 29 tackled it in 29 different ways. They made various types of notes and lists on every visible asset. Those notes and lists gave way to ledgers, and ledgers gave way to spreadsheets. Some of these spreadsheets then rolled up into a variety of operating support systems, business support systems, ERP and network polling solutions, which produced an asset database of record considered “good enough” to track the full ALM.

Many telecoms today still attempt ALM through paper trails, spreadsheets, ERP, OSS or BSS. The problem is these solutions have one common weakness – a significant delta between what happens with assets in the real world and what is reflected in the asset-tracking database. To have accurate visibility, insight and control of your assets from end to end, you have to have ALM in the center of multiple systems. This improves the accuracy of the data by means of data reconciliation as well as data collection. A great ALM solution can reconcile and verify any and all asset data regardless of the source(s), to provide every connected system with the most accurate data possible, at either a high or low level. This ensures the integrity of CSP asset information, reduces the need for physical audits and serves as the database of record for all assets.

Because infrastructure costs are so significant, stakeholders (and shareholders) are starting to demand an accuracy rate closer to 100%. Network operations, engineering executives, CFOs, accounting, finance managers and supply chain executives are all starting to test better ALM for a number of reasons:

–It reduces or eliminates the purchase of duplicate equipment.

–It allows for the efficient reuse of excess inventory and spare equipment.

–It gives visibility into invoiced equipment to provide an understanding of what has really been received and if it matches the purchase orders.

–It gives visibility into the status of equipment going through the return and repair process.

–It reduces theft, fraud and hoarding.

–It gives communication service providers an accurate picture of what is actually in use (as well as where the inventory and assets reside) to allow for accurate tax payments.

–It supports internal controls to allow for compliance, which greatly reduces organizational and regulatory risks.

–It removes excessive repair and replacement expense through accurate warranty tracking.

–It also allows field technicians to locate spares quickly, with visibility into network information, revision numbers and updates.

The ability to use ALM to reduce and optimize capex becomes a telecom’s biggest strategic advantage in a fiercely competitive global marketplace. ALM is the complete end-to-end management of network equipment through each of the many lifecycle stages – from acquire to retire. These stages include, among others, receipt of shipment; warehousing and spares management; picking and shipping; “minimum/maximum” settings; transfers; assembly; installation; deployment; maintenance; upgrades; repairs; returns; audits; cycle counts; and decommissioning.

A complete solution takes ALM a step further, adding a mobile solution to provide accurate, real-time information that allows you to keep track of where every asset is – across the field, warehouse, datacenter or back office. It can be configured to let any worker scan 1D, 2D or micro PDF barcodes with the least number of attempts required, capturing data as it flows organically throughout its lifecycle. The right solution should work on any major scanner or smartphone scanning platform in any environment. Of course, this mobile solution should also require enterprise-grade security, ensuring the data you collect remains uncompromised. This includes a secure logon, user limited permissions, and encrypted password protection to safely connect to any integrated system through a secure transport layer behind your own firewall.

ALM mobile solutions allow any field technician to collect the information needed when and where changes occur. These updates are captured in real time and communicated to the systems that rely on different types of asset information.

Implementing initial planning, multiple-step processes could be configured for different types of users, ensuring intelligent, directed decision support and visibility into all inventory at every step, whether the field tech is offline or online. Intelligent decision support tools would allow you to see and control everything you need to accomplish your job, no matter who you are, what mobile platform you are using or where you are located.

A full ALM solution includes software, services, asset tags and mobile hardware to make sure your solution brings you the highest possible asset assurance. From a best-practice perspective, a productive ALM suite tailors and customizes its routines to match your specific business processes.

The many departments within a telecom that work with network assets do so in a variety of ways. This requires initial business analysis and consulting around the needs of all departments, and involves the implementation of holistic process improvements to maximize operational efficiencies.

As part of the set-up process, there is a data clean up and preload of legacy asset data into the ALM database, which may require an audit of all network and warehouse sites. When that’s completed, the full software solution can be deployed, which includes integration between the ALM application and other key enterprise applications. To ensure successful adoption, a proper and thorough training of ALM system users also happens up front.

The fact is, telecom equipment and other assets move around frequently during their lifecycle – whether it’s due to regular maintenance, the upheaval of mergers and acquisition activity, or the technology cascade that occurs when new equipment is deployed and old equipment is reassigned to new locations or retired. Successful CSP organizations use ALM to get visibility, gain insight and take control of their assets, with the ultimate goal of driving the accuracy score up towards 100%.

For information on Fulcrum ALM, visit FULCRUM TECHNOLOGIES today.  

To read this article at RCR, as well as other fantastic articles from RCR, please visit the incredibly resourceful RCR site, starting with this article's original post

 

Fulcrum Technologies Launches Capex Optimization Consulting Practice

Fulcrum Technologies, a global provider of Asset Lifecycle Management solutions, today announced a new consulting practice to help Communication Service Providers optimize their supply chain and business operations from end to end.

 

SEATTLE, WA. — March 1, 2016 — Fulcrum Technologies, maker of the CATS Asset Lifecycle Management software, today announced the formation of Fulcrum Consulting Services (FCS) - a consulting services organization aimed at helping Communication Service Providers (CSPs) get visibility, gain insight, and take control of their business operations.  Fulcrum Technologies has consulted for Finance Managers, Supply Chain Executives, Network Operations, and Engineering Managers from over 40 different CSPs, and is positioned to engage with additional clients who are interested in enhancing their CapEx Optimization plans.

Fulcrum, along with logistics management partners, SIs and complimentary technology partners, can assess your business operations and provide solid practices to optimize your Asset Lifecycle Management and other Supply Chain Management functions - from acquisition to retirement. This includes management of warehousing, inventory, warranties, spares, and more, and gives a precise snapshot of what is actually active (as well as the geographic location of inventory) to allow for accurate property tax payments. It also provides best practices for compliance with governing and internal process controls, which greatly reduces organizational and regulatory risks. 

FCS offers two pre-packaged offerings. The first consulting package is the “ALM Readiness Review.”  This option includes two days of on-site meetings, stakeholder interviews, detailed questionnaires, and intense analysis of key ALM areas, all followed by a detailed report of findings and recommendations. 

The second consulting package is the “Business Operations Review.”  This option includes two on-site trips - one week on the front end to do data gathering, and two days on the back end to present findings and recommendations.  The areas of study include inventory turns, equipment out for repair or return, taxation, time from receipt of asset to installation, sparing levels and philosophy, reuse, decommissioning management, and audit process and capabilities.  Following the data gathering and analysis, the consultants will produce a PMO (Present Mode of Operations), an FMO (Future Mode of Operations), a report comparing PMO with industry best practices and metrics, and an ROI analysis.

Additionally, FCS will engage with end clients and strategic partners to provide any custom engagement format desired.

“Having engaged with over 40 Communication Services Providers in the past 17 years, Fulcrum understands very well the considerations that CSPs have in optimizing their investments in network equipment. Over 50 percent of a CSP’s annual spend is on network assets and we understand the best practices associated with tracking, managing and optimizing those assets. Fulcrum’s new consulting division will provide consulting services directly to our end clients as well as through a variety of partners. These services will help our clients understand the processes, workflows, and best practices required to achieve phenomenal savings on their network spend,” states Brent Bauer, CEO and Founder of Fulcrum Technologies. 

Communication Service Providers wanting more information about FCS consulting offerings should visit www.ALM.Consulting to learn more. 

ISE Magazine Article: "In a Perfect World... There Would Be Perfect Asset Lifecycle Management"

Have you considered what managing your network assets would look like in a perfect world? ISE Magazine's latest issue provides the history, best practices and top line strategies for those with asset lifecycle management (ALM) responsibilities including finance, supply chain, network and operations managers, team members and field technicians.

You can listen to the article by voice over at this Youtube link

You can view the article below in text or image form, or visit ISE Magazine HERE to read it in the digital magazine, page 26.  

 In A Perfect World... There Would Be Perfect Asset Lifecycle Management

On October 21,1832, Baron Schilling produced the first commercially viable transmission of signals between two telegraphs, giving birth to the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) industry.  At that time, the assets and infrastructure required to produce the communication was simple; two electromagnetic telegraphs and a cable running between them.  It was easy for him to track and manage the assets, as they were located in two different rooms of his apartment. 

Forty-four years later, Alexander Graham Bell produced the first commercially viable audio transmission, which was the genesis of the Telecommunications industry.  Similar to the setup in Baron Schilling’s apartment, Bell’s infrastructure and assets contained a transmission device, a cable, and a receiver - all located in plain sight in his Boston laboratory.

Those were the only two points in history where an ICT organization recognized 100% asset integrity with regard to their critical infrastructure.  It was easy then, with a minimal number of assets contained in a singular field of vision.  As the ICT industry grew, so too did the assets required to support it, as well as the ever-expanding geographic locations.  In short, it became logistically impossible to have perfect visibility, insight, and control of an ICT’s assets throughout their respective lifecycles.  Over time, ICTs grew to accept less than perfect accuracy rates as an industry standard.  According to a 2015 TeleManagement Forum survey, asset managers reported an average asset accuracy rate of only 74%.  Even more shocking, those same executives said an 87% level of accuracy would be acceptable.  The “acceptable” losses are staggering, given that the global ICT industry invested 350 billion dollars in expensive network assets in 2015, with that number expected to rise steadily year over year.  No other industry on earth would allow this level of inaccuracy.

The 350 billion dollars represent over 50% of the global ICT industry’s annual capital expenditures.  Because the infrastructure costs are so significant, the ability to use Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM) to reduce and optimize Capex becomes an ICT’s biggest strategic advantage in a fiercely competitive marketplace.  ALM is the complete end-to-end management of network equipment through each of the many lifecycle stages, from acquire to retire.  These stages include, among others, receipt of shipment, warehousing and spares management, picking and shipping, min/max settings, transfers, assembly, installation, deployment, maintenance, upgrades, repairs, returns, audits, cycle counts, and decommissioning.

Network Operations, and Engineering Executives, along with CFOs, Accounting, Finance Managers and Supply-Chain Executives can all benefit from powerful, intelligent, flexible ALM for a number of reasons.  It reduces or eliminates the purchasing of duplicate equipment. It allows for the efficient reuse of excess inventory and spare equipment.  It gives visibility into invoiced equipment to understand what has really been received and if it matches the Purchase Order.  It gives visibility into the status of equipment going through the return and repair process.  It reduces theft, fraud, and hoarding.  It gives ICTs an accurate picture of what is actually active (as well as what geography inventory resides in) to allow for accurate property tax payments.  It supports internal controls to allow for compliance, which greatly reduces organizational and regulatory risks.  It removes excessive repair and replacement expense through accurate warranty tracking. It also allows field technicians to locate spares quickly, with visibility into network information, revision numbers, and updates.

The ideal solution does all of this and takes ALM a step further, adding a mobile solution to provide accurate, real-time information that allows you to keep track of where every asset is - across the field, warehouse, datacenter, or back office.  It can be configured to let any worker scan 1D, 2D, or Micro PDF barcodes with the least number of attempts required, capturing data as it flows organically throughout its lifecycle. The right solution should work on any major scanner or smartphone scanning platform in any environment. Of course, this mobile solution should also require enterprise-grade security from end-to-end, ensuring the data you collect remains uncompromised.  This includes a secure log on, user limited permissions, and encrypted password protection to safely connect to any integrated system through a secure transport layer behind your own firewall.

In a perfect world, multiple-step processes could be configured for different types of users, ensuring intelligent directed decision support and visibility into all inventory at every step -whether the field tech is offline or online. Intelligent decision support tools would allow you to see and control everything you need to accomplish your job, no matter who you are, what mobile platform you are using, or where you are located.

Many ICTs attempt ALM through ERP, OSS, or BSS.  The problem is that these solutions have one common weakness - a disconnect between what happens with assets in the real world and what is reflected in the database.  Instead, ALM sits in the middle of multiple systems and improves the accuracy of their data by means of data reconciliation as well as data collection.  A great ALM solution can reconcile and verify any and all asset data regardless of the source, to provide every connected system with the most accurate data possible, at either a high or low level.  This ensures the integrity of your asset information, reduces the need for physical audits, and serves as the Database of Record for all assets.

ALM includes software, services, asset tags, and mobile hardware to make sure your solution brings you the highest possible asset assurance.  From a best-practice perspective, a productive ALM suite tailors and customizes its routines to match your specific business processes.  This requires up-front business analysis and consulting around the needs of all departments working with network assets (Supply Chain, Engineering, Finance, Operations, and Tax).  It also involves the implementation of process improvements across all departments to maximize operational efficiencies.

As part of the set-up process, there is a data clean up and pre-load of legacy asset data into the ALM database, which may require an audit of all network and warehouse sites.  When that’s completed, the full software solution can be deployed, which includes integration between the ALM application and other key enterprise applications.  To ensure successful adoption, a proper and thorough training of ALM system users also happens up front.   

Fulcrum Technologies’ CATS solution addresses all of these ideal scenarios.

The fact is, equipment and other assets move around a lot during their lifecycle - whether it’s due to regular maintenance, the upheaval of mergers and acquisition activity, or the technology cascade that occurs when new equipment is deployed and old equipment is reassigned to new locations or retired.  Successful ICT organizations use ALM to get visibility, gain insight, and take control of their assets, with the ultimate goal of driving their accuracy score back to the level it was in 1832 - a perfect 100%.   


Fulcrum CATS Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM) at a Leading Wireless Provider / Telecom

A customer with several billions of dollars in assets within their operations decided to implement
the Fulcrum’s CATS solution. As a result, this customer estimated that they achieved (using conservative assumptions) between 3% and 5% savings in spares recovery following their CATS implementation – which equated to savings over $60 million in the first year.  www.Fulcrum.net