LARGE Organization Case Study – It’s 10 O’clock: Do You Know Where Your Assets Are?

By David Weis, Providence Health and Services

Providence Health & Services is a not-for-profit Catholic health care ministry committed to providing for the needs of the communities it serves – especially for those who are poor and vulnerable. Providence Health & Services continues a tradition of caring that the Sisters of Providence began more than 157 years ago. Providence includes 32 hospitals, 400 physician clinics, senior services, supportive housing and many other health and educational services. The health system employs more than 64,000 people across five states – Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon and Washington. That is more than 1,000,000 Square Miles with over 600 locations. In 2011, Providence provided more than $651 million in community benefit, including nearly $204 million in free and discounted care for those who could not afford to pay for care. Providence is working to improve quality, increase access and reduce the cost of care in all of the communities they serve.

In 2006, Providence began our association with IAITAM, educating our key staff in IT Asset Management. We successfully built the case to fund an IT Asset Management team and application acquisition. In 2011, we began implementation of Computer Associates (CA) Asset Management tool as part of their integrated ITSM suite. Today we are tracking over 100,000 IT assets. These numbers include over 85,000 computers, laptops, tablets, and thin clients. We are also tracking thousands of servers and network devices. Our printer fleet of 20,000 is also a key component of work for our asset management team.

The four focus areas of the IAITAM Spring ACE conference are all of critical importance to our ongoing efforts at excellence in IT Asset Management. Money, metrics, monitoring, and management are all components that drive our daily operations.

Something that is not unique to Providence but is prevalent across the healthcare industry today is huge challenges due to decreased reimbursement revenue. In some areas, the decrease is now up to 40% less than just a few years ago.

Providence continues to grow as part of their ongoing strategy. Our IT assets have grown as well, with sustained growth of 1 percent a month every month for a number of years in a row.

Change is a constant for us in IT Asset Management. Equipment is always moving especially our mobile fleet. This fact coupled with our refresh rate means that we experience change in the 20-25 percent range every year. This makes it that much more imperative that we are keeping our asset records current.

Money

Money and lifecycle management of our large IT fleet are one of our biggest challenges. The investment is huge. The average hardware cost for a computer, laptop, tablets, and printers is $1,000. That makes our computer fleet cost 85,000+20,000 * $1,000 = $105,000,000. We try to do a four to five year hardware refresh, which equates to a $20 – $25 Million a year budget. The problem is that the yearly budget is significantly less than $20 Million. In addition, we have peripherals, with $10M of monitors, $6M of mobile carts, and $4M of other hardware items in the fleet.

Metrics

The metrics for IT Asset Management performance are that we provide greater than 99 percent complete and accurate records. We are also tasked with cost savings in excess of cost of asset management. We have to more than pay for our existence. Anyone who makes a change to an IT asset is also tasked with updating that record in the asset management system. Procurement and our supply chain have metrics to follow standards and procure through normal approved channels for standard hardware. We are all held to metrics regarding corporate performance and helping to meet the patient and financial goals.

Monitoring

For monitoring, we use a number of tools to reach our goals and track our assets. Microsoft SCCM is used for a number of reasons including asset management. We also use Computer Associates IT Client Manager. This tool allows us to compare discovered assets to owned assets. An owned asset is one we have recorded in our asset management repository. We use Absolute Software’s Computrace to help track our mobile assets like laptops and tablets. Our ITAD vendor is another way we monitor our assets even as we dispose of them. We have managed print services in place where we are monitoring print utilization as well as costs and cost savings. Anything we monitor electronically is also best if periodically monitored with boots-on-the-ground physical inventories.

Management

Management includes a number of activities that we find are required for success of our IT Asset Management efforts. Reporting on our activities and doing internal marketing of asset management are two important cornerstones for us. We work with a number of vendors that are important to us, so vendor management is a regular activity for IT Asset Management. Some of our key vendor partners are HP, Computer Associates, Wyse, RICOH, Microsoft, and Absolute Software. We aren’t perfect so management is involved in course corrections from time to time. Elimination of roadblocks that pop up can be very important. One thing that can’t be overstated is the need for executive sponsorship. An area that can’t be ignored, even when focusing on Hardware Asset Management, is the collaboration with Software Asset Management.

The Keys to Success

Our results rely on our tools, processes, standardization, and especially our personnel. Over the years in Hardware Asset Management, I have found that we need individuals with a mix of skills and specialties, similar to the “A Team” to succeed. The expression “A Team,” known best from a 1980s TV show name, comes from the nickname coined for U.S. Special Forces’ Operational Detachments Alpha (ODA) during the Vietnam War which was the “A-Teams.”

Our recent results are:

  • Vast increase in accuracy and completeness of hardware asset records
  • General acceptance that IT Asset Management records are accurate and the record of truth
  • Cost savings in excess of goals, more than funding asset management functions
  • Acceptance of standards as well as the value in standardization
  • Successful IT Asset Management is instrumental to the long term success of our organization
  • Cost savings and containment can fund an IT Asset Management program
  • Executive sponsorship and marketing of asset management for understanding are required for success
  • IAITAM-educated leadership and personnel make all the difference

The opening narration on the “A Team” TV shows include this broad statement that can be very relevant to Hardware Asset Management:

“If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.”

About the Author

David Weis is the Regional Director of IT Serv. Deliv for PeaceHealth Medical System.