The Maryland State Board of Elections is responsible for managing all the voting equipment distributed across the different local board offices in the State of Maryland. They have chosen the eQuip! system to track them, report them, and support the mandatory annual inventory audit.
Keith Ross, Assistant Deputy for Project Management for Maryland State Board of Elections, has led the team to implement the eQuip! system. In the process, not only has he himself has become a super user of eQuip!, his team is also the application expert training users in regional and local offices to manage the equipment within the eQuip! system: entering new assets, recording asset changes and moves, generating reports, and conducting inventory audits.
Keith and team have essentially moved the equipment management process from an excel sheets based, labor intensive, and error prone process to an automated, web based, mobile enabled process. He requested of the DGS (Department of General Services) in the state of Maryland for eQuip! to be an approved inventory management system. DGS has approved his request.
So what are his takeaways for successfully enabling the change?
A few weeks ago, I sat down with Keith Ross in Annapolis, and we had a really nice chat about the implementation experience.
Luo: This project has taken a bit longer than usual because the first project manager left the team to take another job. For a while, the project was sort of stalled. Then you came on board, and within a year, you have a live inventory management system. How did you bring the project back on track?
Keith: Yes, that was a disruption. It was frustrating because of that. After I took over, I first dived into the system, trying to learn everything about it. I read the User Guide and Admin Guide, read the knowledge articles in the support site (support.e-isg.com), I filed a lot of tickets when finding issues. You guys have been patient with me. Honestly, we also looked at other systems in the meantime. In the end, we decided that eQuip! is the most flexible system, and it will suit our needs. We need an inventory tracking system, and we need to make it work.
Luo: Yes, you are probably the only customer who has read the User Guide and Admin Guide page by page, from beginning to the end (Laugh)… As the owner of the eQuip! application, you are responsible for supporting the application for all users in the Maryland State Board of Election. How did you lead the team to assume that responsibility?
Keith: We actually had to do a “retuning of eQuip!”. After I learned more about the system and what the system can do, I realized that the asset data structure set up by the previous project manager needed to be adjusted in order to better utilize the system with our needs. Also, before we deployed the system, we needed to document the business processes, knowing that the system will support those processes. So we spent a lot of time documenting the process, which has led to defining the asset structure and configuration requirements. That took quite a bit of time, but it was necessary for deploying the system.
After we retuned the system, our team did a lot of testing while learning about the system. The eQuip! system has Admin tools that allow configuration of asset data fields, workflows, and set up roles and permissions. We learned all these tools so we can become better administrators of the system.
Luo: What do you like about the eQuip! software system?
Keith: It is very flexible. The admin tools are very useful once you learn how to use them. We also like the fact that it comes with the eQuip! Mobile application on scanners. My team just completed the inventory audit of all the equipment in the last few months, something that was impossible to do if we didn’t have the system. We saved a lot of time in inventory audits. I anticipate we will be able to go through the annual inventory audit faster in 2018 since we have learned a lot from the last one.
Luo: what do you see areas for improvement?
Keith: You can continue to improve the User Guide and Admin Guide, making them easier to follow, more complete and up to date. You can improve the consistency in user interfaces in the application.
Luo: Thank you. We are taking your suggestions and working on them!