Have assets, will manage

MRO Software officials have released Maximo Enterprise Suite, a group of products for managing assets and service operations.

Although asset management is not new, it is still immature, said Mark Gruzin, director of MRO's Federal Division. People are still using spreadsheets to track assets in many organizations, he said.

Built on a single platform, the MRD suite provides support for contract compliance, service-level agreements, internal corporate standards and government regulations. Each product can be used separately or in various combinations to meet an organization's needs.

The suite's information technology service-desk functions help managers handle incident reporting, problem solving, configuration issues, call tracking and IT asset life cycle management.

Company officials are marketing the suite as a tool for consolidating applications, an activity in which many federal agencies are engaged, Gruzin said. By giving a single view of all assets, the suite could help agency managers catalog available resources and identify those they still need, he said. It also helps find redundancies that could be eliminated.

Gruzin said the suite could be helpful to federal IT managers who want to consolidate their applications management and outsource some jobs.

Business processes must be supported, which is one of the factors driving the adoption of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, he said. "We look at ourselves as a bolt-on to an ERP suite."

Using the product takes some time and effort, Gruzin said, adding that "you can't get to nirvana overnight."

No Internet across the ocean?

SI International officials recently introduced an electronic document system that helps ships more easily comply with the U.S. Coast Guard's newest port security requirements.

The document system enables vessel operators to fill in and electronically submit required Notice of Arrival/Departure information to the Coast Guard for processing.

Before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, vessels had to notify marine safety officers and port captains of their arrival 24 hours in advance. They had to describe only the hazardous material they were transporting.

Now, ships must notify the National Vessel Movement Center via a Web-based submission system. The center was created after the attacks to centralize the Coast Guard's process for ships entering and departing the United States.

In addition, vessel operators must notify the center 96 hours in advance and provide information about everybody aboard the ship.

One problem, however, is that Internet connectivity is not always available when a ship is four days from shore.

That's where SI International's new system comes in. It allows vessel operators to download the forms to their onboard computers and enter the data into an off-line form. If they don't finish in one session, they can save the data and resume working later.

Once users enter information and Internet connectivity becomes available again, they can e-mail the form or submit it online to the Coast Guard in Extensible Markup Language.

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