Case Study: How Tyco Uses Smartphones to Audit Thousands of Assets Nationwide
Tyco Integrated Security, a business unit of Tyco which recently merged with Johnson Controls, provides security services nationwide. It manages the security systems of many buildings throughout the country, including those owned by the federal government. As a part of the contractual requirements from several federal government customers, Tyco needs to audit the security devices installed in these buildings each year.
Before it deployed the eQuip Asset Management system, Tyco relied on a manual process to audit the assets. After the deployment of the eQuip system, Tyco was able to:
- eliminate FedEx shipping costs for paper copies of inventory
- reduce the number of dedicated inventory computer servers
- eliminate the need for a dedicated data entry team
- significantly reduce the number of hours technicians spend auditing assets
This case study will explore the challenges Tyco faced, especially in their audit process. It will also discuss how Tyco faced these challenges with help from the eQuip team. The case study will end with a summary of the benefits Tyco gained from deploying eQuip.
Challenge: A Nationwide Inventory
Tyco installs and maintains the security devices in many federal buildings across the country. They are required to perform an annual inventory audit on many of these security devices. This caused significant strain on Tyco’s resources, due to the number of assets and difficulty accessing them. For example, one of Tyco’s government customers has more than 500,000 devices spread between almost 800 locations nationwide.
The annual inventory process was manual and could be labor-intensive and error prone. It also often interrupted the government customer’s environment.
Although Tyco had an asset management system in place, the system’s lack of flexibility and mobility exacerbated Tyco’s challenges with annual inventory audits. The existing system was customized many times to support an annual audit but still had significant limitations.
These limitations were:
- Lack of flexibility: It was hard for users to add or rename additional fields. Certain fields, such as Maintenance Cost needed to be updated regularly, but there was not an easy way to do so.
- Lack of mobility: The system didn’t support using smartphones to audit assets. Tyco technicians all have company-issued iPhones, and Tyco depends on them to audit asset inventory on-site. If Tyco were going to give each technician a mobile scanner, it would have been a large additional cost.
When performing an audit in a government-owned building, the Tyco Project Management Office (PMO) staff prepared a list of assets and where assets were located. They then sent that list to the technicians managing that building.
Technicians would carry this list, which could span hundreds of pages, and visually confirmed barcodes by reading them. After confirming barcodes and marking them as audited, technicians sent the list back to the PMO. The dedicated data entry staff in the PMO then manually entered the barcodes into their system and updated the audit status and all fields that needed to be updated.
Solution: A Centralized Inventory With Mobile Access
Finding an asset management company with subject matter expertise in auditing physical assets was important for Tyco. Equally important was a company with knowledge of supporting the government and defense contractor market. Also key was getting a system that was flexible and easy to use, so they could reduce the labor hours required to conduct annual inventory audits.
The system was required to have the following key criteria:
- Enables technicians to use their existing smartphones to audit inventory on-site. The scanning process should be straightforward with minimum keystrokes.
- Minimizes the need for staff to manually update audit data. If the audited data collected by smartphones can automatically update the asset record, it can eliminate the need for a duplicate manual update.
Implementation: Keys to Success
The Tyco team responsible for managing this organizational change completed the implementation within 9 months. Working with this team of innovative, competent, and dedicated professionals, the eQuip team has observed the following key factors essential for the success of this implementation:
Set a Timeline
Tyco developed a realistic (but tight) timeline for the project plan. This was then socialized internally and obtained cross-functional support.
Use a Pilot Program
Tyco started with a pilot program. They chose a few sites with a small amount of assets for the pilot program. They trained early users with short videos and step-by-step written guides. This allowed Tyco to learn from the process and adjust the future deployment plan accordingly.
Tyco built a close partnership with the eQuip team. Although the eQuip system is a Commercial Off the Shelf system, each deployment has unique requirements. From the beginning, the Tyco project team knew that deploying the eQuip Mobile app at such a large scale, among new users, in different kinds of network environment, is the most unpredictable part of the deployment. The Tyco team focused their effort on this deployment.
They used the pilot programs to surface any potential issues and worked with the eQuip support team to develop solutions. While working through these challenges, both the Tyco project team and the eQuip team were methodical, focused, and creative. This is key to meeting challenges together.
Results: Greater Inventory Control
Within less than nine months, all asset data was exported from the old system, cleaned up, and imported to eQuip. In addition, all technicians were trained to use the eQuip mobile app to audit assets.
Due to these changes, Tyco has seen a significant increase in the number of devices audited per technician per day. The mobile app allows Tyco technicians to audit more efficiently, saving eQuip users time and increasing the company’s overall productivity.
Technicians also have greater autonomy and control of inventory. Rather than contacting the PMO staff to make a change to asset data, the technicians can simply load up the eQuip app. Not only is this another time-saver, but it increases asset data accuracy.
After the deployment of the eQuip system, Tyco was able to eliminate FedEx shipping costs for paper copies of the inventory, dedicated inventory computer servers, a dedicated data entry team, and significantly reduced the amount of hours service technicians spent in the field auditing assets.
During the first year of the system implementation, the savings outweighed the cost of deploying the system. In subsequent years, Tyco expects the return on investment to increase due as adoption of the system becomes further integrated in their work culture.
We took our customer from a process that was complex and lengthy to a solution that sets them up to be leaders among their government peers in asset management.