Asset management upgrade ditches Cobol

Managing the company's assets on an old Cobol-based system that sat on a single PC just didn't fit Symbol Technologies' new corporate governance standards.

As the subsidiary of a US publicly-listed company, Symbol Australia's industry programs manager Mel Boak said the company had to provide an accurate view of its assets.

The company's worldwide external audit partner regularly reviews operations and assets and Boak said Symbol has to provide accurate bottom-line numbers.

As a result, the barcode scanning provider went for a best of breed asset management solution from Melbourne-based software developer Hardcat to monitor $500,000 worth of test and demonstration equipment, which is used at trade shows and by partners and end users.

Boak said the new system provides all the performance indicators critical to corporate governance requirements and generates random custom searches for products.

"There are about 13,000 items or more in our range and we have hundreds of items moving in and out each week; now it is very easy for a third-party auditor to come in and check on our processes and generate their own reports. It has all the histories and hierarchies that the bean counters expect to see in a mature software system," he said.

Boak described the previous system as "inefficient, slow and desperately lacking in features", adding that it was old technology that could not be enhanced.

"There was no support, it had limited reporting capability and we couldn't deploy it in multiple offices. We definitely needed a whole new approach. We needed a server-based product with a modern, open-systems architecture, strong reporting capabilities and an ability to store multiple types of file formats," he said.

Symbol runs the system at the front end of a Microsoft SQL server-based database environment.

"We now just have to scan our equipment as it comes in and out while individual item records can be updated by authorised users via handheld devices or PCs," he said.

Symbol engaged Hardcat's professional services team to assist with the migration of legacy data and to set up reporting templates as well as to provide staff training.

"Hardcat helped us take our existing Cobol database and translate that into a format that was usable on the new software. We were able to interrogate that database, extract the relevant data and convert it across to a format that we could easily load into Hardcat," Boak said.

"Retaining all that legacy data eliminated one potentially huge headache. The whole process was pretty quick and efficient. It probably took no more than a month from starting to when we finished the pilot and closed off the old system."

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