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How the DBSA transformed its asset management from burden to business enabler

One of the most significant challenges was the bank’s fragmented systems and processes, which obscured the visibility of up-to-date physical asset information and the management of the asset lifecycle. “We needed to be able to track assets from acquisition through to end-of-life,” Jairam- Owthar explains. “Everyone had their own perception of this process and this subjectivity created inconsistencies and errors which put our business at risk.”

Another pain point was that so much data had to be captured manually. Time-consuming and prone to human error, these manual tasks tainted the bank’s SAP-based reporting. Fraught with un-validated or inaccurate data, any audit based on this information was inherently flawed.

In turn, this impacted the bank’s ability to comply with various legislative and financial regulations, including the Public Finance Management Act (PMFA).

There were the obvious implications, such duplicated or misused assets, losses that couldn’t be accounted for, expensive and lengthy auditing procedures, and a frustrating loss of productivity when assets were not where they should have been.

Even more worrying was that with months between data capture and actual consolidation and reconciliation, decision making was often based on aged/outdated information. This made it difficult to optimise procurement or manage the risk associated with ageing assets.

 

Asset Management

 

The first step was to formalise a standard process and understand what the desired end-to-end value chain should look like. NetTrace fitted into this intuitively, and the executive team providing professional support were heavily involved in the alignment process.

It’s against this framework that NetTrace currently optimises and automates the bank’s asset management process, including planning, acquisition, deployment, maintenance, and retirement/decommissioning. This ensures DBSA maximises the value of not just its IT assets, but some 21 400 individual physical assets – at every stage of their lifecycle.

DBSA makes use of the dynamic cloud service for tracking and tracing physical assets as they move within the organisation. This automatically creates a pre-validated audit trail in real time. Meanwhile, proactive notification of inventory exceptions helps drive business efficiencies in prioritising management and decision support. The system is so efficient, that the entire environment is monitored by just two administrators with a measurable 98% accuracy.

All asset data is linked to related business data sets in an automated manner so that structured information is always available in real time to authorised users via a web-portal.

Integration with DBSA’s SAP-based financial systems tracks depreciation in terms of the value of assets; while monthly reconciliations enable regular validation and alignment of the data captured. Data which can now be scanned or imported as opposed to input manually.

"Change management is critical, particularly when it comes to IT," affirms Jairam-Owthar and ensuring users bought into the system initially was an important part of the success of the engagement. Subsequent upgrades have been accompanied by upskilling to ensure ROI. "NetTrace works within our internal change management process. For each new release, we work together to ensure we understand each new capability and how to leverage their value for our business."

 

Endpoint security of internal ICT assets

 

For DBSA, it’s not just physical assets that need managing. “In many instances, the value of our data far outstrips the value of our hardware,” explains Jairam-Owthar. “We deal in sensitive information all the time, from treaties from various SADEC countries to highly classified financial information. There could be serious implications should this end up in the wrong hands.”

DBSA tracks all employee and contractors’ laptops, more than 750 individual machines, from a single cloud-based console. Computers can be remotely managed and secured to ensure – and prove – appropriate endpoint IT compliance processes are properly implemented and enforced.

“We have complete peace of mind that information assets are protected at all times. If a machine is lost, stolen, or even just unaccounted for, we are able to wipe all data remotely no matter where it is in the world,” says Jairam-Owthar.

 

Value Derived

 

Real-time visibility – all the time

 

“Few appreciate how intricate the management of assets truly is, or how deep the value chain goes,” says Jairam-Owthar. Because NetTrace looks beyond work orders, inventory controls and equipment records captured in SAP, it offers a robust history on the entire lifecycle of an asset. The business can ensure that assets are used for their intended purpose, used in the location intended, and by the person/department that needs to use the asset. This translates into the best possible return on investment.

“NetTrace helps us ensure that the movement of all our IT assets is properly tracked and recorded,” says Jairam-Owthar. “This means that our controls work throughout the year, not just when we have an audit. We know exactly what we need to know about the whereabouts and state of our investments and how to make them work for us financially while limiting exposure to risk. It also means we have the transparency required for compliance and good governance.”

The DBSA Board considers corporate governance to be a priority and endeavours to go beyond minimum compliance where appropriate. In 2016, the DBSA received a Clean ICT Asset Audit Report. “This was an important milestone as it demonstrates our stability and offers a certain level of confidence to our board and executive that our systems are working as expected,” says Jairam-Owthar.

 

The value of highly accurate information

 

Now that the importance of highly accurate and up-to-date inventory information has become part of DBSA’s operating ethos, its value is overflowing into other areas of the organisation.

“We’re now looking at asset management on a holistic level. Based on the value we’ve seen coming out of the IT environment, we want to expand the solution to include all assets – including property and plant equipment,” says Jairam-Owthar.

“The ability to dynamically monitor our asset environment means real-time information for decision making. It empowers us to have a very different conversation with our suppliers. We’re looking forward to taking this solution to the next level and drive it through the rest of our business.”

 

A two-way partnership committed to continuous improvement

 

“What has become very important to us is the level of involvement we have with NetTrace and the team. We’ve moved past a traditional vendor-client dynamic into a true partnership,” concludes Jairam-Owthar. “Our relationship is built on trust and is engagement-rich. The result is a continuous improvement – for both sides.

While strict strategy and roadmaps provide our administrators with the direction they need in the short term, NetTrace has also helped us create a culture where we are able to think more strategically as opposed to operationally about our asset management.”