As Fulcrum’s founder, I have been asked many times over the last 20 years to describe what Fulcrum does. The answer to that question has changed over time because the solutions we offer have grown with the needs and the technology of the telecom industry. So rather than just say, “Fulcrum is the leading provider of network asset lifecycle management solutions for telecom carriers”, allow me to elaborate on the problems we solve and put those in perspective.
Carriers deploy and maintain a network for their subscribers. This is an incredibly detailed and complex process because the network is geographically dispersed. There are dozens of decisions made daily which cannot be made well without information about the network’s infrastructure. Yet most carriers rely on inaccurate data because they don’t have visibility into the true state of their network equipment.
In an industry that is increasingly competitive, the best way for a carrier to improve its bottom line is to be more efficient and make better decisions about its investment in network infrastructure. Without a mobile application like CATS to provide full visibility into the realities of the carrier’s network infrastructure, those carriers will never have the insight needed to make the best decisions, avoiding poor ones.
Common examples of poor decisions include purchasing new equipment when there are ample spares or idle equipment on hand that is not reflected in any system or spreadsheet, or perhaps those items are being held for a project that was already canceled. Other poor decisions could involve paying too much property tax because of lack of visibility into whether equipment is installed or being held as spare inventory, or because the tax jurisdiction is unknown due to unrecorded moves.
The real world of telecom is messy and complicated. Equipment that was intended for one location often ends up somewhere else, so it is not enough to know where equipment was intended to be or how the network was designed. Management needs to know where things really and truly ended up.
The finance and procurement teams buy equipment as a kit or bill of materials (BOM) but the people in the warehouse receive it as a quantity of individual components that must be tracked and managed throughout their own individual lifecycles by the technicians that maintain the network. When equipment is ordered in kits or BOMs it can be nearly impossible to manage whether all the items for which a carrier is invoiced were actually received.
It is equally difficult for the CFO’s organization to manage a Fixed Asset Register (FAR) that only tracks items at the summary level, such as a Base Station, when the CTO’s team must manage the individual parts that comprise the asset, such as the rectifiers, radios and cards. What happens when those individual items are swapped out, replaced, or when more are needed? How can warranties and depreciation schedules be tracked when all this activity takes place across a massive geographic area?
These questions and an infinite array of others just like them give one a sense of the magnitude of the challenges faced by telecom carriers who are tasked with making critically important decisions based upon inaccurate and incomplete data about the equipment assets that make up their network.
To help telecom carriers solve these challenges Fulcrum provides a mobile application called CATS. CATS does an excellent job of capturing data about the details of any activity involving network equipment wherever the activity takes place. By guiding technicians, warehouse personnel and even contractors through the collection of unique data defined by the transaction they are engaged in, we assure that information about the network is accurate and up-to-date so that management can make the best decisions.
Fulcrum also does an excellent job of communicating information with other software applications that have no way of capturing the truth of what happens with equipment in the real world. We integrate the information we manage into financial systems like Oracle ERP, SAP, and PeopleSoft. These applications need current data or they become out-of-date quickly. We also integrate to OSS and engineering systems like Granite, MetaSolv, Remedy, and others. In the telecom world, equipment moves around a lot and network upgrades are almost constant.
For more than twenty years Fulcrum has focused solely on solving these challenges. Fulcrum specializes in capturing accurate data about telecom network equipment when and where changes take place, validating and managing that data, communicating it with other systems and then helping users view it in the manner, and at the level of detail, that is consistent with the way they work within their organization. Fulcrum has more experience in this particular area of discipline than any other vendor and has embodied that experience within the CATS software suite.
CATS has incorporated the lessons learned by tens of thousands of users performing every conceivable asset transaction. CATS guides users through the collection of relevant data in a step-by-step manner that reflects best practices and built-in efficiencies gained through automated data collection technologies that go beyond asset tracking to become the data source of record for all information about network equipment throughout its lifecycle.
This information is vital to groups like Finance, Network Operations, Network Engineering, Supply Chain and more. These groups make decisions every day on what equipment to purchase, reallocate, reuse or dispose of and whether to make payments for equipment that may or may not yet be received or repaired, or on property taxes that may or may not be accurate. Fulcrum helps them make the best decisions about where to invest their carrier’s network budget. We are passionate about what we do and we have more experience than any other company.
Thank you for your interest in Fulcrum. It is my sincere hope that we can put our expertise to work solving the challenges you face with tracking, managing and optimizing your investment in network equipment infrastructure.
CEO and Founder