Vanderveldt said, "Absolutely not should companies use an Excel spreadsheet. Whether it's internal or you're working with an IT outsource, you need a central repository for all that information. You can do something in a SharePoint Server infrastructure. We use Microsoft Office Groove, an easy and robust tool for something like software asset management, that will allow you to get the process going with little training and setup. It's a collaboration tool that lets the IT dept work internally with other staff members from which they might need to gather information, like procurement. You can share this workspace with any of your vendors and they never have to pass into your firewall."
"Excel is fine but the issue is how do you cleanly collaborate on setting up the process with departments and vendors?"
Don Barry, associate partner in global business services in the supply chain operations and asset management solutions with IBM, agreed: "You don't want to go manual which is really what a spreadsheet is. The systems out there today allow you to manage workflow and incidence records. It forces businesses to write plans, and the number one thing I find is people don't write plans to schedule their people, integrate with the maintenance and procurement."
But in whose budget does the program fall?
Vanderveldt said: "It belongs in the IT budget because the people in essence who should be running it are those in the IT department. They're the ones who are making sure things run, they're the mechanic. In reality it's not a big expense, it's an upfront cost. You implement it once, then it becomes basically a maintenance tool but also a risk management tool. You can foresee what your needs are going to be and budget for them accordingly."
How does an organization evaluate their lifecycle management process?
Stahl said, "The biggest result is can you reveal costs that enable some accurate measurement of your IT investment? Is the decision-making and the cost justification done with real numbers or is it back-of-envelope and intuition? Are you getting to the point where your change control is being driven not just by helpdesk tickets, but by forecasts so that you're moving ahead and tying into other business cycles? Can you demonstrate true and tighter cost management? Are you mitigating risks...so that you're helpdesk tickets and your failure rates have dropped?"
Barry said, "There are some leading practice indicators, but ultimately you know because you're getting your overall equipment effectiveness -- it's if your work truly is 80 percent planned and 70-80 percent proactive. The ultimate maintenance person should be rewarded when things don't break, not because he's good at fixing them when they do break, although he needs to be good at fixing them when they do break."