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Server and Asset Management System Project Proposal


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This is a mock proposal for Cerner Healthcare that would save at least $36,400/year by implementing an asset management system to integrate/replace disparate information systems. Our team included a member of Cerner’s Managed Services Department, and worked with a Cerner Project Manager to elicit requirements and estimate loss due to inefficiency.

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Server and Asset Management System Project Proposal

  1. 1. Server and Asset Management System Project Proposal Drafted for Cerner Healthcare – Managed Systems Department 51 Valley Stream Parkway Malvern, PA 19355 Cappelletti, Michael and Lewis, Ian December 13, 2015
  2. 2. Cerner Healthcare’s managed services department currently uses a variety of methods for storing information about their clients’ servers, including an SQL database (CMDB), and various spreadsheets and documents. The Managed Services team spends a collective 30 hours per week on locating, updating, and disseminating information regarding client servers for updates, maintenance, and repairs. At an average estimated pay of $35/hour, this equates to $1,050 per week, or $54,600 lost per year. To streamline this process, we propose implementing Asset Panda – a web application that can be integrated with CMDB in order to provide an accessible, centralized repository for server information. Asset Panda can be accessed through a web browser or a mobile application, allowing Cerner employees to view and update information both on premise (at Cerner), or on site, after performing maintenance on a server. The application includes QR code and barcode functionality, allowing Managed Services team members to quickly look up a server on site without entering long-winded ID codes. A standard edition of Asset Panda, with 1,500 assets (Managed Services’ servers), costs $1,699 yearly. Using Asset Panda would reduce the amount of time spent (per week per employee) on managing server information from about 1.5 hours to about 30 min, resulting in a total savings of $34,701 per year, as well as the practical advantage of having one repository for server information, as opposed to many, disparate sources and methods of management. This proposal details an implementation plan, relevant changes that would be made to the server information management process, estimated costs, and possible risks that would be involved in implementing Asset Panda. Executive Summary 2
  3. 3. Table of Contents Table of Contents Executive Summary..............................................................................2 Statement of Opportunity....................................................................4 Asset Panda for Cerner Healthcare...................................................5 Key Features.....................................................................................5 Structure...........................................................................................7 An Improved Management Process.................................................9 Risks and Mitigation..........................................................................12 Budget...............................................................................................13 Conclusions.....................................................................................14 3 Contact Information Michael Cappelletti (610).636.2359 Ian Lewis (814).321.8540
  4. 4. Statement of Opportunity Managed Services team members regularly have to identify and retrieve information regarding current client servers, such as the server’s name, location, configuration and hardware, performance issues, storage and memory capacity, and whether or not it has been decommissioned, among other variables. Currently, several methods exist to retrieve the requisite information for client server updates, changes and maintenance – an irregularly updated database (referred to as CMDB), individual reports on each server, and various cumbersome excel spreadsheets. This problem stems mainly from two root causes: (1) The recent acquisition of Siemens Healthcare by Cerner Healthcare – former clients of Siemens Healthcare are now (as of February 2015) a subset of clients of Cerner Healthcare, and the current Managed Services department is now responsible for Seimens’s former clients and Cerner’s former clients before the merger. Because of this acquisition, the Managed Services has also inherited multiple methods of managing information about these clients’ servers. (2) The speed at which business operates – Cerner is not short-staffed by any means, but as a fast-paced business, opportunities to improve processes sometimes fall by the wayside. The existence of redundant systems for updating client information has been perpetuated because employees have not had time to sit down and create a unified system, as they are focused on simply doing their jobs. It has been estimated that, collectively, employees waste 30 hours per week on gathering current information regarding client servers from disparate sources. There are at least 20 employees responsible for this task. At an average pay of $35/hour, $1,050 per week (or $54,600 per year) is a rough estimate for how much money is currently wasted on gathering this information. The goal of this project is to implement an asset management system that integrates these disparate sources of information as automatically as possible using Asset Panda, in order to save time and money for the Managed Services Department. 4
  5. 5. Asset Panda for Cerner Healthcare Figure 1 – Hypothetical “Managed Servers” Page in Asset Panda I – Key Features Asset Panda has a straightforward user interface, accessible by logging into their website. Asset Panda is designed as a general asset management system, which can be customized to reflect the specific needs of an organization. There are several key features provided by Asset Panda that we believe would streamline the server information management process – Usability: Asset Panda has an intuitive user interface that organizes asset entries by groups, allows users to search for entries by any or all field(s), and is completely customizable. Users can add or change the names and attributes of groups and fields to best fit their needs. Asset Panda can be accessed from a browser as a web application (, or through an Android or iOS mobile application. This would allow the Managed Services team to access Asset Panda from the Cerner office and on site at client locations. Actions: users can perform actions upon assets within Asset Panda, which can have customized results. For example, the default “Repair” action in Asset Panda prompts the user for the scheduled date, completion date, repair location, staff member assigned to the repair, repair cost, and any miscellaneous notes. After the action is performed, the results are logged in the object’s (asset’s) history. Users can configure actions to have custom fields – for example, a “Repair Type” field could be created with a drop-down menu, containing “Hardware,” “Software,” and “Other” as options. 5
  6. 6. Asset Panda for Cerner Healthcare I – Key Features (cont’d) Calendar: the Managed Services team has reurring obligations to service client servers. Asset Panda contains a calendar function, that allows users to schedule actions ahead of time. This feature can be used to send notifications to users at set times before upcoming scheduled actions – Managed Systems team members would receive notifications detailing which server needs maintenance, its location, and what actions must be performed during maintenance. Flexibility: Asset Panda is fully customizable. Users can create objects within the system, assign them attributes, and add them to groups. Asset Panda’s group function can be customized as well – objects (in our case, servers) can be grouped according to some attribute, which could be helpful for sorting servers by location, hardware type, software type, and client. Integration Services: Asset Panda offers integration services, which could be used to leverage the information already within CMDB (the existing Managed Systems server information database). Existing servers, and their attributes, can be drawn from CMDB to populate Asset Panda, then checked against other spreadsheets and reports to ensure accuracy before use. QR Code/Barcode Support: Asset Panda contains a QR code and barcode feature that generates printable sheets of codes, allowing users to tag their physical assets. Managed Services could potentially use this feature to tag each client’s servers – then, when on-site, Managed Services team members can simply scan the server’s tag on their mobile device to access the server’s information within Asset Panda. This further streamlines the process, and reduces the possibility of human error. This feature can be used when adding a new server to the system as well – the user can simply scan the barcode or QR code into the “Server ID” field. Figure 2 – Hypothetical “Server” Object in Asset Panda Figure 2 is an example of what a server might look like in Asset Panda. Users can enter a Server ID, Name, Client, Storage and Memory Capacity, Location, OS, Software Configuration, and miscellaneous notes for each server (and indicate whether it is a physical or virtual resource, and whether it’s been decomissioned). Managed Services team members can perform actions by clicking an action button (e.g. “Repair”) while on site with the client, eliminating concerns of whether information is up-to-date. 6
  7. 7. Asset Panda for Cerner Healthcare 7 II – Structure Asset Panda’s default configuration contains three objects relevant to the Managed Services Department: “Areas,” “Locations,” and “Assets.” Areas are groups of Locations, and Locations are attributes of Assets (containing a name, address, and other fields). These relationships are illustrated in Figure 3: Area Location Location Asset Asset Client Location Location Server Server Figure 3 – Hierarchy of Default Objects in Asset Panda (arrows flow from higher order objects to dependent objects) Figure 4 – Hierarchy of Customized Objects in Asset Panda This configuration can be easily edited to reflect the relationships between Clients, Locations, and Servers. Cerner has many clients with multiple locations, and each location may contain many servers. This relationship is illustrated below in Figure 4: To configure Asset Panda as illustrated in Figure 4, the user must navigate to the “Group Settings” page. By clicking on “Edit” for the groups “Area” and “Assets,” the user can change the name of the group to “Client” and “Servers,” and for Servers, add and edit the various fields/variables that need to be managed (e.g. “Hardware Specifications,” “Operating System,” etc.). The following page contains screenshots of this process.
  8. 8. Asset Panda for Cerner Healthcare 8 Figure 5 – Location of “Group Settings” Page in Asset Panda Figure 6 – Default Group Names in Asset Panda Figure 7 – Updated Group Names in Asset Panda II – Structure (cont’d) The figures below contain hypothetical “Client” and “Location” objects in Asset Panda. Refer to Figure 2 on page 6 for a hypothetical “Server” object. Figure 8 – Hypothetical Client in Asset Panda (comprised of two locations) Figure 9 – Hypothetical Location in Asset Panda
  9. 9. Asset Panda for Cerner Healthcare III – An Improved Management Process The figures below contain activity diagrams, detailing how Managed Systems team members might use Asset Panda to manage server information. 9 Figure 10 – Asset Panda Notifies a User of Routine Server Maintenance
  10. 10. Asset Panda for Cerner Healthcare III – An Improved Management Process (cont’d) 10 Figure 11 – User Accesses Asset Panda through Cerner’s Network
  11. 11. Asset Panda for Cerner Healthcare 11 III – An Improved Management Process (cont’d) Figure 12 – User Accesses Asset Panda through Secure VPN
  12. 12. Risks and Mitigation 12 We have identified three main risks for Cerner implementing Asset Panda as a Server Information Management System – (1) security, (2) data migration/integration, and (3) acceptance by Managed Systems team members. The probability and impact of these risks is detailed in Figure 13. This is followed by a discussion of these risks, and mitigation strategies. Probability Impact User Acceptance Data Migration / Integration Security Figure 13 – Probability and Impact Chart of Project Risks User Acceptance: this is a low-probability, high-impact risk. Though we do not believe the Managed Systems team will reject Asset Panda due to its usability, features, and flexibility, this project’s success hinges on its proper use in the client server management process. We suggest conducting extensive user testing as a mitigation strategy, in order to ensure that the team will use Asset Panda in practice. Data Migration/Integration: this is a medium-probability, medium-impact risk. Asset Panda’s website does not discuss how much they charge for integration or data migration on their website, and it is not clear whether CMDB could be used to host the back-end data. As a mitigation strategy, we recommend consulting a representative of Asset Panda. Security: this is a medium-probability, low-impact risk. Though users can access Asset Panda remotely through the Citrix VPN Portal, it is not clear whether users of the mobile application will be able to do so securely – depending on Cerner’s security practices, it may or may not be feasible to use the QR code scanning function (since it requires the use of a mobile device). Since this information is not critical (i.e. a security breach would have very little impact for Cerner or its clients), Asset Panda’s default security is not necessarily a major concern. As a mitigation strategy, we suggest consulting a representative of Asset Panda, as well as other organizations that have used their services to see if any have suffered security breaches.
  13. 13. Budget 13 A standard edition of Asset Panda, with 1,500 assets (Managed Services’ servers), costs $1,699 yearly. Using Asset Panda would reduce the amount of time spent (per week per employee) on managing server information from about 1.5 hours to about 30 min, resulting in a total savings of $34,701 per year. This figure does not take into account the costs of implementation. Below is a table of estimated expenses for implementation and the first year of use. Component Estimated Cost Asset Panda Subscription (1500 assets) $1,699 Integration and/or Data Migration $200 Project Planning Labor – one week, one full-time employee $1,400 Implementation Labor (i.e. configuring Asset Panda) – one week, one full-time employee $1,400 Total $4,699 Figure 14 – Estimated Implementation and First Year of Use Costs This prelimenary budget assumes that one employee can spend one week planning, and one week implementing Asset Panda. Taking into account implementation costs, this project’s ROI during the first year will be about $31,701. Each following year, Asset Panda will save Managed Systems $34,701, because of the amount of time this system can save team members.
  14. 14. Conclusions 14 For the reasons discussed earlier – its features, usability, and capacity to streamline the managed server information management process – we recommend implementing Asset Panda within the Managed Systems Department. This would cost approximately $4,699 during the first year, and would save approximately $34, 701 yearly. Though risks present themselves in the areas of user acceptance, data migration/integration, and security, we believe that the benefits of this project outweigh these risks, especially if mitigated. The authors of this proposal can be contacted at the e-mail addresses and phone numbers listed on page 3 for further inquiry.