September 17, 2013

Do You Have Your Head in the Cloud?


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Do You Have Your Head in the Cloud?Public Safety

Perhaps you should!  There is no doubt that 2012 has been a breakthrough year for cloud computing. We have witnessed a continuous growth curve in terms of adoption that has allowed for the emergence of new and innovative cloud services. Firefighters, police, and emergency workers of all kinds do heavy lifting when it comes to protecting and serving citizens, and in many ways they define modern society’s greatest achievement.  Political sensitivity used to ensure that public safety organizations were the last to feel the budget ax.  But in today’s extreme fiscal climate, these agencies – like the rest of government – are now being forced to do more with less.  This is especially true for police agencies.

Not only does the police force handle sensitive and classified information and evidence internally, but it also needs to be able to pass that information and evidence on to other government agencies. Next to maintaining the privacy of documents, uptime is the most critical factor for the always-working police force. With an around-the-clock schedule, reliability is non-negotiable for the organization. Finally, officers need to be able to access information and communicate with each other from their patrol cars, street corners, or from their desks. A cloud-based system may be the file-sharing solution that would uphold critical security requirements, provide a high level of service to maximize uptime, and be accessible anytime, anywhere.  Officers and support staff could communicate from virtually anywhere through instant messaging, PC-to-PC video calls, or online meetings.

Additionally, the cloud offers continuous data back-ups, disaster recovery capabilities, and globally-redundant data centers, minimizing the risk that the police will ever lose its valuable information.

Document safety, confidentiality, and security are the three biggest concerns for the police. When sharing classified information—such as details about an ongoing investigation—it’s crucial that no one without authorization is able to access files.  Information is often extremely sensitive. A cloud-based system can maintain strict controls around shared documents within the organization with enterprise-grade reliability, strict privacy policies, and multi-layer security against viruses, spam, and phishing attacks, maintaining critical data security.

A private cloud can be used to address the needs of a community that stretches across hundreds of organizational boundaries.  Participants are free to choose what and with whom they share information in secure partitioned environments.  A network would serve as the only law enforcement gateway to Sensitive but Unclassified data on the Intelink intelligence network.

Databases become more valuable as more law enforcement users and organizations can search them.  It would be invaluable to place queries to dozens of state, local and federal databases from a single Web page, greatly simplifying access for police officers and casting a wider net for offenders.  Database owners can specify which users and agencies are authorized to access them, providing peer-level cooperation across organizational boundaries without relinquishing control of their own data.

The most tangible benefits of cloud computer include cost savings, rapid deployment of critical resources, off-site storage and disaster recovery as well as meeting dynamic operational needs, while maintaining the security of systems and the proper use of data.

Police are considering moving more mission-critical applications to the cloud, including those that access Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) data, along with storage, records management, evidence management, crime reporting and mapping and analysis systems.

Following a survey of high-ranking law enforcement professionals from The International Association of Chiefs of Police, Jeff Gould, president of SafeGov and CEO of Peerstone Research states, “Agencies are at the cusp of a broad migration of applications over the next few years.”   The survey found that police agencies expect to use a wider range of cloud applications within the next two years, moving beyond the deployment of e-mail, currently the most popular application in cloud infrastructures.

August 26, 2013

Provista Appraised at CMMI Level 2


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Provista CMMI Level 2 CertifiedFremont, CA (August 14, 2013) – Provista Software International Inc. announced today that it has been appraised at Level 2 of the CMMI Institute’s Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI). The appraisal was performed by William Pierce of Nupit.com.

CMMI is a process improvement approach that provides organizations with the essential elements of effective processes that ultimately improve their performance.

An appraisal at maturity level 2 indicates the organization is performing at a “managed” level. At this level, projects have ensured that processes are planned and executed in accordance with policy; the projects employ skilled people who have adequate resources to produce controlled outputs; involve relevant stakeholders; are monitored, controlled, and reviewed; and are evaluated for adherence to their process descriptions.

Attainment of the Level 2 rating was the result of a two year Mentor-Protégé relationship with mentor IBM.  Reaching Level 2 required that Provista satisfy all of the CMMI model’s goals for a collection of process areas or set of process areas targeted for improvement.  As a result of the Level 2 rating, Provista is better positioned to support clients and partners with consistently high quality service and deliverables.

August 20, 2013

Provista Announces CloudOne’s Managed Services and SaaS Software


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Provista CloudOne Partnership

Now Available on GSA Schedule

CloudOne Provista Press ReleaseFremont, CA (August 20, 2013) – Provista Software International Inc. announced today that it has added CloudOne’s cloud-based Rational Tools to their GSA Schedule 70.  These tools will be made available to government customers through IBM’s SmartCloud for Government infrastructure.  This solution combines the government-specific infrastructure from IBM, designed to FISMA-moderate standards, with the SaaS-based Rational tools and managed services from CloudOne, uniquely positioning it as a consumption based development and test environment for government clients.

This collaborative solution provides government customers with the CloudOne Rational tools while meeting the needs of Federal IT security policies and mandates. This relationship delivers more cost-effective software development solutions able to meet myriad government requirements.

“Partnering with Provista to extend our current offerings onto the GSA schedule broadens our ability to offer our clients quality products with alternative licensing for both on-premise and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions,” said James Pietrocarlo, vice president of business development for CloudOne.  “Provista offers a better-to-best practice and continues to evolve and expand CloudOne solutions.  Extending existing offerings from IBM Software Group to the cloud provides flexible and scalable deployment alternative to our clients.”

About Provista

Provista, a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business and award winning IBM Premier Business Partner headquartered in Fremont California, is a leading provider of scalable software and solutions built on IBM’s technology.  In addition to providing custom solutions, Provista has developed two Smarter Cities solutions, specifically to support Public Safety Agencies.  PR*VIDE Pro is an Asset Management System specifically designed to manage first responder assets and PR*VIDE Evidence is an Evidence Management Solution specifically designed to manage evidence from acquisition through disposition.  Both of these solutions were designed to be scalable to support organizations of any size and complexity.  For more information about Provista, visit www.provista.com.

About CloudOne

CloudOne created partner-delivered Software-as-a-Service and Virtual Private Clouds for IBM software tools. Today they are the world leader in cloud-based managed software tool services for IBM.  They help organizations of all sizes, all over the world, make their infrastructure work on-demand.  They speed the deployment of IBM technologies with no up-front capital, so you “pay as you go” on a monthly subscription.  You save money on infrastructure, staffing and configuration costs, create a dynamic, elastic environment, and facilitate global collaboration, visibility and consistency.  For more information about CloudOne, visit www.oncloudone.com..

July 17, 2013

Asset Management with Maximo


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Asset Management with Maximo

barcode image on Asset Management with Maximo page at Provista www.provista.com

Today’s manufacturers face an environment of tight budgets and global competition. As a result, savvy manufacturers have embraced lean manufacturing methods, eliminating waste and increasing operational efficiency. Companies are implementing Enterprise Asset Management Solutions (EAM) to maximize productivity, ensure safety, decrease costs and improve asset-related decision making. Maximo embraces lean methods through effective asset management by

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July 10, 2013

Maximo Meets 4 Key Challenges of the Distribution Industry


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Maximo Meets 4 Key Challenges of the Distribution Industry

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Today’s manufacturers face an environment of tight budgets and global competition. As a result, savvy manufacturers have embraced lean manufacturing methods, eliminating waste and increasing operational efficiency. Maximo embraces lean methods through effective asset management by:

Making the most of critical assets through proper maintenance.

Reducing downtime to increase production and revenue.

Complying with governmental regulations and requirements

Provista utilizes IBM’s Maximo to address four key challenges in the distribution industry.

  1. Align Business Resources and Operations with Demand – Distributors must provide organizations-wide access to information, enabling managers and suppliers to make fast, strategic decision. Distributors need to sale their operations to match demand.
  2. Achieve Accessibility to Inventory in Order to Control Costs – Real-time inventory data is necessary to make good purchasing decision and minimize inventory costs. Companies need the ability to identify redundant and slow-moving inventory. Two key metrics are the cash cycle and inventory turn. Without full visibility, distributors cannot measure and improve company performance.
  3. Improve Execution and Coordination with Suppliers and Customers – Speed or business velocity determines success in the distribution industry. Poorly integrated systems, reliance on manual processes, or re-keying data already available in one system but not accessible to others is always bad news—a major cause of delays and a common source of errors. Along with being responsive to customers, distributors also need to ensure that suppliers rely on them as trusted trading partners. Distributors that make doing business easy and enjoyable for suppliers and customers can maintain strong relationships. Distributors whose systems integrate easily with supplier systems gain a cost advantage.
  4. Position for Growth with Improved Customer Service – Distributors work in very competitive markets. For the external customer, the speed of response, the accuracy of information such as lead-time data, and quality care across all contact points affects future orders. Getting customer service right is a “must” for sustained business growth.

Case Study

A leading electronics manufacturer with five core businesses (semiconductors, LCDs, telecommunications networks, digital appliances, and digital media) improved visibility to available assets by implementing Maximo asset management system. The implementation was part of an overall initiative to innovate and standardize all maintenance processes. As such, the Maximo system interfaced to an SAP ERP part numbering system. The manufacturer has seen significant benefits from Maximo, saving $11.3 million through decreased inventory of required spare parts, as well as decreased maintenance cost and equipment downtime.

June 13, 2013

Business Analytics


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Business Analytics

Provista has solutions

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Make informed and optimized decisions everywhere, to improve outcomes and manage risk

In business today, only the profitable will survive. While companies may strive to ramp up sales, increase market share, or hit customer service targets – there is no model to sustain a successful business without profits. As recent studies show, organizations that apply Business Analytics outperform their peers. 

Business intelligence has become essential in most organizations. BI is not constrained to individual departments in organizations, but rather is viewed as essential at the corporate level with many organizations now focusing on growing their BI maturity vis-a-vis prior states as well as peer organizations. BI is becoming part of business processes. It is being integrated with workflow, business automation and proactive systems, and is not constrained by any measure to post-operational processes alone.

Business intelligence solutions typically offer the ability to analyze quantitative data and produce information that monitors business performance. The analyses may be summaries or drill downs that present details on subsets of data. The BI infrastructure consists usually of the server platform, operating system, database management system, communications facilities, performance tools, BI tools and security tools. All data in the BI environment is created under a single architecture.

For optimum results, business intelligence analytics must:

1. Tap into all types of information

2. Empower people in all roles to explore and interact with information and deliver insights to others

3. Optimize all types of decisions – whether they’re made by individuals or are embedded in automated systems — using insights based on analytics

4. Provide insights from all perspectives and time horizons – from historic reporting to real-time analysis to predictive modeling

5. Improve business outcomes and manage risk, now and in the future

IBM calls this your “Analytics Quotient,” or “AQ.” It measures how ready you are to apply insight to your strategy and tactics; how quickly you can re-allocate resources and re-orient your people to make better decisions; and how effectively you can act, based on how well you know your past performance, current results and future possibilities.

The “Master” level of AQ (Analytics Quotient) indicates that data-driven decision-making is pervasive, and the organization can set top-down goals and allocate resources based on real-time insight into shifting operational and market dynamics.

It’s simple: The more you embrace analytics, the higher your AQ score. A higher AQ indicates that your organization has the potential to achieve improved outcomes.

It’s also simple to improve your AQ – IBM Business Partner solutions from Provista

Provista – Exactly what you were thinking™

June 04, 2013

Managing Warehouse Inventory – Problem Solved


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Managing Warehouse Inventory – Problem Solved!

IBM Maximo from a Preferred Business Partner can Help

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An organization’s products or services must constantly evolve to meet customer demands. Issues such as increased globalization; commoditization and competition; compliance with industry and government regulations; green and sustainable operations; health and safety in the workplace; eroding margins; and the resulting higher costs of doing business all contribute to this phenomenon.

In a survey conducted by Intermec  at the end of last year, it was reported that mid-sized warehouses lose approximately 3,000 hours a year due to workforce inefficiencies. The survey also noted that 30 percent of warehouse managers had not conducted a review of their processes in the warehouse in the past year.

Inventory management was reported as an area where it would be easiest to gain cost savings through technology. To that end, many warehouses and distribution centers have implemented inventory management software to provide the visibility needed to optimize inventory control. Rather than relying on pen and paper or spreadsheets, these systems enable comprehensive inventory tracking, including quantity, location, advanced reporting, mobile management and asset tracking rfid, and bar-coding. Querying takes seconds to provide needed information, as opposed to shuffling stacks of paper in a daily inventory scavenger hunt.

These systems are developed to provide a 360-degree view of even the largest warehouse, and the built-in workflow goes a long way toward regaining those lost hours. Increased picking accuracy, proper inventory rotation, RFID support and better control of put-away and picking processes certainly make the work day easier (and more productive) for warehouse managers and employees alike.

With the warehouse representing the last link of the supply chain, it’s vital to maintain a structured, error-free environment in the most efficient manner possible. The five most common problems warehouses experience can easily be eliminated by better processes or automation.

  1. Inventory accuracy – Without an automated system, companies tend not to know what they have on hand, making inaccuracies a common problem. Inadequate visibility frequently causes excess/obsolete inventory to build up or, perhaps worse, creates demand for extra stock in case of shortage.  Excess inventory can cause lack of cash flow, warehouse space issues, higher cost to house extra materials and deficient customer service.  However, inventory shortage tends to be the greater problem as it can lead to orders being unfulfilled.
  2. Inventory location – Lack of inventory oversight can cause a buildup of inefficiencies within the warehouse that slows operations and increases costs. Without adequate insight into location, pickers take longer to find the items to ship, which slows the loading process and creates a backup in labor allocation and dock door scheduling.
  3. Space utilization/warehouse layout – If storage systems, racking and pallet patterns are not optimized, the amount of space necessary to house inventory increases. Inefficient warehouse layouts also cause unnecessary labor. For instance, if high selling inventory is in the back of the facility, the drive will be further than would be required if the warehouse layout were better laid out.
  4. Redundant processes – It’s common for warehouse workers to pass a pick ticket or other documentation through multiple hands. The picker will pass it to the checker, who will pass it to the stager, who will pass it to the loader, and so on.  Using bar code technology, which is frequently found in today’s automated warehouse systems, eliminates multiple touches.
  5. Picking optimization – For warehouses that still have manual processes in place, there tends to be no common route taken to pick items for shipment, which adds unnecessary time to the process.  With system directed pick/put-away, the routing is easily automated, reducing wear and tear on both equipment and labor force.

Maximo Inventory Manager is a complete inventory management application that allows stockroom and warehouse workers to view and manage operations with mobile devices regardless of connectivity. It replaces inefficient paperwork by extending IBM Maximo to the worksite for efficient, accurate tracking, issuing and transferring of materials by number, storeroom location and/or work order. Inventory Manager also quickly completes physical and cycle counts, receives incoming inventory by purchase order or receipt, and offers support for bar-coding, RFID and voice.

IBM mobile inventory management software, Maximo Mobile Inventory Manager, provides remote access to the Maximo inventory management processes and enables mobile workers to complete more work and reduce nonproductive activities.

  • Manage remote and mobile asset data with mobile inventory devices
  • Perform physical cycle counts.
  • Perform issues, returns and transfers.
  • Perform receiving processes, including receipt inspections and asset serialization.
  • Utilize bar code and RFID capabilities for mobile inventory tracking and management
  • Exchange data with Maximo server using the method best suited for your operating environment: real-time wireless, dial-up or docking cradle
  • Store and forward data when continuous connections are not feasible.

Today, an agile supply chain is more vital to companies than ever, which is why more warehouses are turning to automation to help smooth operations. It all comes down to efficiency and beating the competition every step of the way, from supply chain to sales. As warehouses and distribution centers upgrade their systems and processes over the next several years, lost productivity time is expected to disappear along with the pen-and-clipboard style of warehouse management that helped cause them.

IBM Maximo from an IBM Premier Business Partner – like Provista.

Provista – Exactly what you had in mind™

May 17, 2013

Analyzing Analytics


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Analyzing Analytics

Using an IBM Premier Business Partner like Provista

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“The current Administration will require agency leaders to set priorities, demonstrate progress in achieving defined goals and explain performance trends.In an attempt to break down inter- and intra-agency silos, the performance model will give cross-program and cross-agency goals at least as much attention as program-specific ones .”  

Government Executive May 2009 edition


Organizations are becoming increasingly data driven, and despite the evolution of Business Intelligence, the ability of an organization to derive value from data will be key to its success.

Data must be accessible and integrated quickly. Expanding beyond traditional internal BI sources is necessary as data scientists examine such areas as the behavior of a company’s customers and prospects; exchange data with partners, suppliers and governments; gather machine data; acquire attitudinal survey data; and examine econometric data.

Building solutions must be fast, iterative and repeatable. Today’s competitive business environment and fluctuating economy are putting the pressure on businesses to make fast, smart decisions. Predictive modeling and advanced analytics enable those decisions to be informed.

Solutions’ models must be integrated back into business process. When predictive models are built, they often need to be integrated into business processes to enable more informed decision-making. After the data scientists build the models, there is a hand-off to IT to perform the necessary integration and support their ongoing operation.

Sufficient infrastructure must be available for conducting advanced analytics. This infrastructure must be scalable and expandable as the data volumes, integration needs and analytical complexities naturally increase. Insufficient infrastructure has historically limited the depth, breadth and timeliness of advanced analytics as data scientists often used makeshift environments.

  • What Are the Trends?
    Recovery.gov. Recovery.gov is the U.S. government’s official website that provides easy access to data related to Recovery Act spending and allows for the reporting of potential fraud, waste, and abuse.
  • U.S. OPM’s FedScope. This online tool allows customers to access and analyze data elements from OPM’s Central Personnel Data File. Customers include Federal government agencies, researchers, the media, and the general public.
  • Albuquerque Unified Crime Reports. Online, interactive crime statistics reporting tool that allows the citizens of Albuquerque to build personalized crime reports for their specific neighborhoods, to visualize trends and patterns.
  • DC Snow Response Reporting System. A mapping tool that shows which streets in Washington have been plowed, salted or both is being heavily used today, according to several blogs, Twitter posts and Facebook updates.

Why Business Intelligence? 

You might say well, ‘I have all the data I need and I do get some reports that tell me where my company stands. And I have a pretty good grasp of my goals, so why do I need a Business Intelligence Solution?’ Well, you don’t need BI if the vision of your business is just to get by and to be ordinary. But if you want to be leaps and bounds ahead of your competition and you want to be proactive, instead of reactive in your approach to business decisions, then BI is what can help you get there!  BI solutions from an IBM Premier Business Partner like Provista.

April 02, 2013

Using the STARS II GWAC to Simplify IBM Product Aquisition


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STARS II GWAC Simplifies IBM Product Acquisition

GSA STARS II logo banner image on Using the STARS II GWAC to Simplify IBM Product Aquisition page at Provista www.provista.com

STARS II, a small business set-aside GWAC, that provides flexible access to customized IT solutions from a large, diverse pool of industry partners. With a $10 billion program ceiling and a five-year base period with one five-year option, STARS II allows for long-term planning of large-scale program requirement while strengthening opportunities for small businesses who are prime contractors per Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 19.8.

Task Orders can be awarded with no protests on orders under $10M, except on the grounds that the order increases the scope, period, or maximum value of the GWAC. Geographic coverage includes the continental United States and in some cases, worldwide.

What is a GWAC?

A Government-wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) is a pre-competed, multiple-award, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract that agencies can use to buy total IT solutions. Government wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) enable federal agencies to buy cost-effective, innovative solutions for information technology (IT) requirements.

http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/104874

Who Will Benefit?

The Stars II Government Wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) benefits Federal agencies engaged in planning and designing computer systems that integrate computer hardware, software, and communication technologies. The benefits are varied, some of which are:

  • Time Savings
  • Precompeted Rates
  • Lower Costs
  • Small Business Engagement

How Does It Work?

STARS II pre-qualified and selected firms who met stringent criteria, including competitive pricing, technical proficiency and recognized industry credentials. This U.S. industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in writing, modifying, testing, and supporting software to meet the needs of a particular government customer.

  • Custom computer applications software programming services
  • Custom computer program or software development
  • Custom computer programming services
  • Custom computer software analysis and design services
  • Custom computer software programming services
  • Custom computer software support services
  • Web (i.e. Internet) page design services

Provista is the leading provider of Government IT services and solutions for IBM Software, Hardware and Services.

Their primary markets include Federal, State and Local Agencies. Provista was the first IBM Partner in the world to be Smarter Cities Capability Authorized and the first company in North America to be certified by IBM as Industry Authorized for Government.

Upon learning of the award, Provista President and CEO Joanne Taylor stated, “The timing for this couldn’t be better, certainly for Provista, but also for the government and for the taxpayers. To provide a vehicle for purchasing high quality information technology solutions from small businesses at competitive rates is exactly the kind of stimulus this country needs right now.”

The announcement of the STARS II award came on the heels of Provista’s recent achievement of being the first company in North America to be certified by IBM as Industry Authorized for Government. The designation includes all aspects of the IBM suite for STARS II, the GSA Schedule as well as Schedule 70 purchases. We can make it easy for you.

Provista – Exactly what you expected™

March 08, 2013

Facility Management Best Practices


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Facility Management Best Practices

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If everyone at a facility is satisfied with the existing maintenance program, why should they be interested in facility management best practices? Studies show that most maintenance departments in the United States and Canada operate at between 10 and 40 percent efficiency and that nearly 70 percent of equipment failures are self-induced. These statistics should not be acceptable—not to upper management and certainly not to maintenance managers.

These facts should generate some amount of interest. Where does your maintenance department stand in relation  to these figures? Do you measure and track maintenance efficiency? Do you accumulate and analyze data on equipment failures? If not, then you probably have no idea if you are the same as, better, or worse than these averages.

What are best maintenance practices?

Best maintenance practices are defined in two categories: standards and methods. Standards are the measurable performance levels of maintenance execution; methods and strategies must be practiced in order to meet the standards. The combination of standards with methods and strategies provides the elements of an integrated planned maintenance system. Achievement of the best maintenance practice standards (Maintenance Excellence) is accomplished through an interactive and integrated series of links with an array of methods and strategies.

Before defining the standards for best maintenance practices, it is a good idea to make sure that there is common agreement on the definition of maintenance: To keep in its existing state; preserve; continue in good operating condition; protect.

Surprisingly, there are a number of people who do not know the meaning of maintenance—at least the way they practice maintenance would indicate this. In practice, the prevalent interpretation of maintenance is to “fix it when it breaks.” This is a good definition for repair, but not maintenance. This is reactive maintenance. Proactive maintenance is the mission.

To change the organization’s basic beliefs, it must identify the reasons why it does not follow these best practices in maintaining its equipment. Two of the more common reasons that a plant does not follow best maintenance repair practices are: Maintenance is totally reactive and does not follow the definition of maintenance, and the maintenance workforce lacks the discipline to follow best maintenance repair practices or management has not defined rules of conduct for best maintenance practices.

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