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Memphis to make assets out of infrastructure with EAM implementation

Memphis CIO Ben Nair explains how his city's plans to implement Oracle EAM will create a more efficient government and make the trucks run on time.

The city of Memphis, Tenn., plans that, very soon, all the vehicle operators it employs will know the exact moment it's time to take their vehicle in for preventive maintenance.

Brent Nair, CIO, city of MemphisBrent Nair, CIO, city of

"Today you go in to get your oil changed, and they stick a sticker on the front of your car inside your windshield, so you know the next time you're supposed to come in for an oil change," said Brent Nair, CIO for the city of Memphis. "If you're like me, the writing fades off and you're thinking, 'When did I need to go back and get my oil changed?'"

For the city of Memphis, upkeep on municipal vehicles and every other part of the city is important. This is what keeps a city running smoothly, and this is where Oracle Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and the Signum Group come in. With Oracle consulting help from the Atlanta-based Signum, Memphis is planning an EAM implementation to take place citywide.

Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton, Jr. instituted an initiative to build a more efficient government. That meant changing how city assets would be managed. The city runs Oracle E-Business Suite, and when it decided to consolidate its asset management system, it wanted an Oracle platform. Currently, Memphis is in the process of testing an EAM implementation that it plans to phase in for the whole city, with the kickoff date in April.

Currently, Memphis' asset management data is held in Excel spreadsheets and other similar systems, and is not organized in any one central location.

"To pull together a comprehensive picture of our assets, it may take a couple of hours or it may take a couple of days, and there may even be missing information," Nair said. This is the core of the problem Nair is trying to solve with the EAM implementation.

Even though we appreciate Sue and her company teaching us how to fish, we'd prefer to fish for ourselves.

Brent Nair, CIO, city of Memphis

In order to maintain its Premier Support plan with Oracle, Memphis migrated to Oracle E-Business Suite R12 when Oracle established the end-of-life for the previous release. The city of Memphis has experience with tricky migrations, but not a rollout of a new platform on a citywide level. Nair said the city mitigated the challenge of the big upgrade by dividing it into "bites at a time." It first concentrated on general services, which the city intends to complete within the next year. The entire project is scheduled to take two to three years.

The real challenge has been resource constraints. "The individuals we'll be using as either subject matter experts or individuals needing to be trained are still going to be doing their day-to-day jobs," Nair explained. Anyone being trained is taking time out from their regular work schedule to do it. Instead of holding back involvement to save time, Nair is doing everything he can to encourage involvement in the implementation from anyone who will use the new platform.

"It's not an Information Services project, it is a project for the city," Nair said. "It is a project for the people that will be using it. We're just here to implement the technology component, but it's up to them use it and to take advantage of what is being offered."

Nair brought future users in at the beginning of the process and said that the best way to encourage involvement is to bring people in "early and often." During vendor selection, individuals from the divisions that would be affected sat in on discussions and had opportunities to ask the vendors questions and answer questions as well. As the city moves forward, Nair plans on maintaining involvement. Starting with the kickoff, he plans to involve people from affected divisions in every aspect, from writing test scripts to defining what exactly an asset is. Signum Group will run workshops to facilitate this process.

Signum CEO Sue Hrib sees the difference that comes from the involvement: "The people really want this done. They want the project."

Signum Group will be present for the beginning of the EAM implementation and provide training, and it will be available if the city needs support, but the city plans to run EAM in-house. It plans to provide internships for the local colleges, where students can learn EAM hands-on by working for the city.

"Even though we appreciate Sue and her company teaching us how to fish, we'd prefer to fish for ourselves," Nair said.

The city of Memphis is also using this initiative as a chance to enhance its mobile system. Currently, it is using mobile work management in very specific cases. For instance, code enforcement officers use Xora, a third-party mobile application that expedites the process of notifying and fining people whose homes are not up to code. However, with the EAM implementation, Nair intends to turn pieces of infrastructure into assets that can be managed by EAM. For instance, a maintenance worker will be able to pull up data on a storm drain from a mobile device and know how long the pipe has been in place and whether it needs preventive maintenance.

Even if it costs time and resources now, Nair believes that this project will fulfill the mayor's initiative to build a more efficient government.

"We're investing now for something we believe will be a payoff later in the future," Nair said.

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