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CASE STUDY

Terrapure: Simplifying IT asset management

When an industrial waste management company with coast-to-coast operations wanted a consolidated IT asset management solution, Launchcode stepped up.

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Client

Terrapure Environmental is an industrial waste management company with more than 70 locations across North America. The company has two state-of-the-art recycling facilities in Toronto and Montreal, with a logistics hub near Buffalo, New York. The organization focuses on recovering and repurposing waste for reuse in the creation of new products.

A smartphone displaying the login screen, and a tablet displaying system connection status

summary

When tech needed tech support

At their last count, Terrapure Environmental had more than 70 locations across North America. Understandably, multiple locations and offices multiply the need for information technology-related requirements.

Everything from network systems to computer hardware, and other IT assets need to be installed, connected, secured, and even inventoried.

However, like in many cases, Terrapure did not have an effective IT asset management (ITAM) initiative in place, barring a few spreadsheets that were updated manually.

Launchcode created a custom solution that not only fit the Terrapure processes to the tee, but also brought in logic and efficiencies that improved the IT operations at the organizations.

The solution allowed administrators to zero in on specific locations on a map interface, and it gave them a summary of all the IT assets at the site.

Launchcode developers even built a custom inventory management module, that had some nifty features built in to simplify process and bring in efficiency.

The solution gave real-time access to the company's IT asset inventory, with details about firmware and patch levels, locations, and the personnel assigned among other things.

Any IT-related strategy exercises that require reallocation and repurposing of assets, assessment of security events have since become simpler to action on.

Laptop displaying the storage room page

pain

IT asset management is no longer an afterthought

In 2014, a massive data breach that exposed details of some 83 million accounts came to light at American investment bank JPMorgan & Chase. According to Reuters, quoting the New York Times, the breach entry point was an overlooked server on the bank's network that did not have two-factor authentication¹.

Ideally, an effective ITAM process and tool would have shown that vulnerability.

Companies have often acknowledged the need for ITAM in an ever-changing operational landscape, and more so after the pandemic.

However, according to a 2021 Deloitte survey of 2,500 individuals on global IT asset management (ITAM), 84 percent of respondents believed they lacked an effective ITAM initiative in place².

Terrapure not only had to deal with 70+ locations but also different types of systems on its network at each of these locations. The coast-to-coast organization relied on multiple tools to track its various types of assets.

Something as daunting as divesting out of a field location would become even more complex given the time they had to spend preparing an IT inventory list.

It also didn't help off-the-shelf products would have required them to change their processes.

Mid-way through the project, the client also realized they needed a way to manage any new IT infrastructure they acquired.

vision

IT asset & inventory management rolled into one

Terrapure Environmental wanted an easy-to-use platform that would boost the company's digital transformation efforts, while also introducing an efficient IT asset dashboard. The custom solution that included a secure central repository had to integrate with multiple existing systems.

As the project evolved from its early days, an asset and inventory management feature was also introduced into the scope of work.

Smartphone displaying the asset dashboard

tech

The rules of the game

The solution would have to be a web responsive application that had cross-browser functionality.

It needed to integrate not only with Terrapure's active directory for authentication purposes, but also with various systems, including Blackberry BES, Lansweeper, SolarWinds, Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager and Ricoh.

Given the requirements, the stack used was not only modern and stable, but also cost-effective. Node.JS was the backend with React used to build the web app. MS SQL was used for database.

journey

In the quest for a know-it-all

A lot of the early conversations with Terrapure Environmental, like all other Launchcode projects, were about the nitty-gritties of the company operations. While the Dream Meeting set the tone with the client about their expectations, the Down & Dirty sessions focused on figuring out the stuff that was important to them.

Understanding client processes guides Launchcode during development, ensuring crucial details aren't missed out on while creating new features.

The solution was first connected to the active directory, to enable a single sign-on, while also ensuring that only the approved personnel had access to the solution.

Next up was ensuring the right users had the right access to the tool to facilitate appropriate functions.

A few conversations with the client indicated they wanted a map-based interface for the solution, like many contemporary location-based services do.

Launchcode developers integrated an interactive map into the solution, that allowed for some of the most common gesture-based actions, a search and filter functionality, identifying user location, etc.

The team had to build specific applications to be able to extract data from multiple asset management solutions that the client used for various types of assets. From Blackberry BES to Lansweeper, SolarWings and Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager, individual solutions were built to ensure accurate data was displayed on the dashboard tool.

For one system that did not allow for integration, a simple manual import mechanism was built to load the data into the dashboard.

The solution also intimated a user of the time of the last data update, ensuring transparency and accuracy.

Coupled with the connection status of all the separate databases, the dashboard emerged as a one-stop-shop for almost all the things the IT team wanted to know about their assets.

Mid-project there were also a few changes to the original brief of the project. With a major shipment of IT equipment coming in, Terrapure wanted a simpler way to manage their inventory.

The Launchcode developers built a solution that bulk-scanned all the equipment into the database. As and when the piece of equipment was dispatched to the intended personnel, and they connected it to the company network, the change in the inventory status of the said equipment was automated.

Laptop displaying the system connection status page

results

IT asset management done right

The IT Asset Dashboard not only simplified a lot of the processes at Terrapure but also facilitated strategic data-driven decisions, especially those related to IT, networks and equipment.

What used to take hours to do, now was possible in real-time.

The stakeholders at Terrapure now had accurate and important information at their fingertips. Decision-making became a lot more efficient since the wait for data was eliminated.

While the company appreciated the multiple existing platforms, they had to monitor the various types of IT assets they had, a one-stop shop that gave them a snapshot of all the assets they had was effective.

Being able to manage inventory from a single platform, having visibility on everything from connection and network status to location-wise asset classification, the tool streamlined and simplified a lot of the Terrapure's processes.

To top it all, the return on investment (ROI) was less than 12 months.

A laptop displaying the 'reports central' page

response

Clients love us!

Words that stand out from the client's response for all the work that Launchcode put in to the solution were “impressive”, “simplicity”, “quality”, and “effective”.

Despite an addition in the brief midway through the project, Launchcode was able to deliver a quality solution on time.

The dashboard and inventory solution not only met all the requirements, but also went above and beyond in its abilities.

Despite being in different time zones from the client, Launchcode's project management was appreciated as much as the product itself.

The fact that Launchcode took time to understand client processes, ticked all the requirements and restrictions boxes, and then came up with a modern, stable and effective solution, was rated highly.

A laptop displaying the map view

next steps

Innovation does not stop at Launchcode

Besides IT Asset and Inventory Management, the partnership between Terrapure and Launchcode has the scope to explore other areas of operations.

Building on the map-based interface, our developers have created a fantastic proof of concept for a tank tracking software that may create a life of its own, depending on Terrapure’s operational needs.

If you give imagination and vision a free reign, there could be tools and solutions for Terrapure, its clients, and its logistics network for a comprehensive platform that simplifies operations, creates key automations and prioritizes communication.

Then we can truly call the platform a Know-It-All.

Citations

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