IT asset request maintenance is one complex process. Though the business logic for this scenario is pretty lengthy, we did not have much trouble in creating a
application for this purpose. Our in-house team of Zoho Creator experts being the men behind many such applications which we use extravagantly, we naturally turned to them. “It was more of myth-busting than app-building because, just like any other IT guy, our IT team too was tough to convince. It was hard-wired into them that an online application on Zoho Creator was incapable of doing things that a ready-made software could easily perform.
We had to overcome that”, they said.
There were many other concerns too. No down-time; Scalability; Notifications; Analysis and reporting tools. We designed it all. After all, we had to impress ourselves first if we are to impress our customers. Zoho Creator stood out in all the above criteria, theoretically, and made it’s way to the arena. Yet, it was uncertain if it could withstand all the activity in real time. So, we deployed it to function in beta phase, along with the email requests which we had been using. This was the phase during which the IT Asset Request application experienced many modifications and we prefer to call them improvisations. These minor changes were the things we thought would be good to have. These rich features were neither available nor could be put into pre-packaged software applications for free.
Here is a glimpse of the business workflow we have incorporated into this application. The employees who request for a resource did not need to know of the inventory details, and the manager who approves need not worry how the purchase should go about. Thus, various levels of permissions were implemented based on the role the person plays. These employee details are available on a separate database, and are looked up for validation. Whenever a request is made by an employee, the approver is notified of the request for verification and approval. But people forget things and a busy day always takes all the blame. A reminder email is scheduled to send itself once in two days, from the third day of request, if it has not been attended to. The timely, automated execution of the reminder email showcases the capabilities of schedulers.
Once approved, the inventory, maintained using a separate application, “IT Asset Manager”, is checked for availability. If the resource is available, it is installed without delay. But if not so, it has to be purchased, and is done by the Admin team. The case is hence moved to them. Here, we thought that the requester should be kept informed of the happenings while he waits. We added yet another schedule for an email addressed to both, the requester and the manager who approved, containing the current status of the ticket. Schedulers. Yet again.
. Yet again.
The purchase quotes from various vendors are obtained and the Sysadmin team mulls over the options. Once the item is purchased, the same is updated in the inventory tracker. Sysadmin team maintains detailed data of every raised ticket, from the moment of generation to the closure. Reports generated based on this data at periodic intervals, are used to analyze request trends and greatly help in keeping futile costs minimal, all thanks to
. Along the way, we came across special instances like temporary requirements. It is not always that a user requires a software resource indefinitely. A trial version was sometimes more than enough to complete a task or campaign. In such cases, the trial version is installed. Towards the end of the trial period, an automated notification email is sent to both the user and Sysadmin team, so as to have it uninstalled.
All these specific requirements would surely have made their way into a custom software, no doubt. But we were able to achieve the same outcome, at no cost at all.
We feed on our own dog-food and freedom certainly is delicious; That we are powered by ourselves as much as we can. Not with this application alone, but plenty of others, some of which we shall talk about in the days to come.
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Apps showcased till now:
Rebranding Management, Hall of Shame, Tweet Stream, Ad Tracker, Reseller Portal, Download Tracker, IT Asset Management, Support Call Tracker, New Employee Record, Travel Management, Courier Management, Cab Booking