Monday, September 26, 2011

Are You Paving Cow Paths With Your EAM Implementation?

If you have ever spent any time walking around a cow pasture you may be familiar with three things about it that remind me of the Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) systems implementations. First, the paths the cows choose to follow are convoluted and entrenched in the history of the herd much like many EAM and the business processes they support. Secondly, there are many traps to step in along the way to a full implementation. Lastly two out of three cow pastures stink, a statistic that holds true for EAM implementations as well.
Lets explore this cow path analogy a bit more. Your organization, over time, using the past EAM or Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) has created both formal and informal processes for getting a work order or work request from one place to another. These paths have dead ends and lots of wasted steps from one part of the process to another. They are not necessarily logical but they have historically gotten the results we have become accustom to. To say it simply they got us from the field to the barn and back again. The focus was on getting it done not getting it done at the level of efficiency that is required to be competitive today.
The problems comes in when many people began to implement  their new EAM system and they choose just to automate the old processes without first taking a hard look at the effectiveness of those processes. This is equivalent to paving the old cow paths. They are faster to travel on but at the end of the day they are so crooked and illogical that you do not get the step change in performance you or your boss expected from the investment.
Two keys to avoiding this loss in potential performance is completing true current and target (also known as "as is and to be") process mapping where you leverage what you already do right while eliminating the dead ends, traps, and non value added activities. Leveraging what you do right will help tremendously with your change effort and your sustainability. The second thing that will help is not relying just on your EAM vendor or internal IT department for help with the best practices process part. If you do then you can expect the best practices in software use and not best practices in maintenance and reliability. Reach out to others who are doing it right in your industry and outside of it, use the many books that exist on the topic or bring in any one of the many consulting organizations that focus in this area. If you take this step you can ensure that the new processes that you put in place not only work with the software but also drive the reliability of your facility to its full potential at the lowest overall cost.
In the end, do not miss a huge opportunity to make a step change in reliability performance just because you chose or are lead down the less painful and newly paved cow paths.

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