In the first article of this two-part series we examined some of the challenges carriers face in implementing a new MRO IT system and how many find themselves struggling to realize the value that was promised by the system vendor. The factors that can impact system performance are all too often self-inflicted. The good news is that each can be mitigated.
In this second article, we look at the best practices that need to be considered at each stage of the implementation journey and demonstrate how carriers can stabilize the MRO system and maximize the value extracted.
It is key for organizations to set themselves up for success well before the deployment of the new MRO IT system.
- Build organizational competency: Organizations tend to underestimate the level of competency required across the organization to properly deploy and utilize a new MRO IT system. To ensure smooth implementation, carriers need to assess and monitor the competency levels in advance and adjust their training accordingly. In addition to establishing the product’s owners, it is sensible to look beyond the organization to find employees who have direct experience in the solution.
- Conduct a pre-deployment risk audit: Because carriers rarely undergo this type of implementation, they lack the experience necessary to make a thorough assessment of all the various change-enablement requirements and post-implementation risks. Likewise, systems providers tend to focus almost exclusively on setup, and system integrators have limited knowledge of the business requirements and constraints that shape the MRO environment. The solution is for carriers to employ a third party to perform a thorough pre-deployment risk assessment. This will provide them with a better understanding of any gaps that might exist in the deployment plan.
- Avoid a rushed deployment: In too many cases, carriers embed unrealistic expectations in their deployment timelines with the hope of cutting implementation cost and minimizing the length of the transition period. This often results in implementation teams taking short-cuts in ensuring data quality, adequate training, etc. Compounding this problem, data integration with ancillary systems are sometimes not vetted fully or are even skipped, leading to process fragmentation and lack of a “single source of truth.” Carriers need to carefully assess their cutover plan, identifying their “must-haves” versus their “nice-to-haves” needs. By adjusting these to a more realistic timeframe, a successful transition can be ensured.
- Don’t forget about unrealized requirements: To avoid missing deployment deadlines, many organizations chip away at the functional requirements outlined in their implementation plan. Their hope is that whatever is removed can be enabled later on, post implementation. For this to happen, these changes in requirements must be well documented and then tracked and managed carefully in the post-implementation phase.
Carriers understandably hope that steady state will arrive quickly post implementation. Even if organizations have completed the steps above correctly, the reality is that challenges still exist post implementation. To ensure success and stabilize their new MRO IT system, organizations should still follow the process below.
- Uncover all stones: As discussed in the first article in this series, it is typical for organizations to experience unwanted issues within the first six months post-implementation. These can be traced back to problems in a variety of areas, including processes, people, integration, data quality, and configuration setup. It is essential to develop a thorough understanding of each and every gap in order to build a cohesive stabilization plan
- Set up a data quality program: Poor data quality can undermine the best of systems and even the organization’s ability to maintain compliance and extract data-driven insights. Carriers need, therefore, to develop a data quality program to ensure that the long-term health of the data is maintained. Such a program requires both a clear definition of data governance and a supporting organization to monitor continuously all data discrepancies and corrective actions.
- Implement appropriate data guardrails: Carriers need to implement data governance strategies that minimize ways that system users can create bad data, intentionally and unintentionally. This includes access and user rights and developing the right alerts and post-action reports, for example, when new parts are created. It also requires that the system is configured in a manner that prevents users from introducing errors.
- Review the system configuration to identify unrealized potential: In many cases, carriers do not utilize fully the capabilities of their MRO system, as depicted in the figure below. Carriers need to review how well their business needs are being met, and determine if the solution and its updates are fully utilized and adopted. This includes identifying descoped and excluded functionality which can fulfil business needs and, if implemented, could potentially retire peripheral systems.
- Enhance training: Pre-implementation training is almost always insufficient for ensuring that all maintenance technicians are able to correctly utilize the new system. Without intervention, bad habits and workarounds will develop quickly. If these are not addressed early on they can introduce long-lasting behaviours that can undermine process adherence and introduce data discrepancies. Carriers need to invest in continuous training and upskilling programs, with the early focus being on system weaknesses.
At steady state
To maintain the hard-earned stability and further improve performance once the system is stable, carriers need to have a clear long-term product strategy, one driven by the desired digital operating model.
- Have a clear product vision and strategy: Plan how the adoption of a new MRO IT system ties into the organization’s overall digital transformation objectives and its retirement plan for superfluous and legacy peripheral systems. Carriers will need to work with their solution provider to incorporate future enhancements and enable their target digital operating model. However, avoid customizations if possible as they may complicate system upgrades. Consider alternative ways such as robotic automation software and to improve workflows and data visualization tools for enhanced reporting.
- Keep up with the upgrades: System stability will benefit from upgrades that include software bug fixes. Ensure that such system patches are fully tested but also explained by the MRO solution vendor; they may uncover previously unknown sources of errors. User experience can also be enhanced by upgrades providing functionality improvements and new features. Though sometimes they come at a cost, upgrade programs ensure carriers will keep extracting the most
value from the system.
A fine-tuned MRO IT system can be a competitive differentiator. It focuses the organization on what matters and allows it to get more value out of its people and assets. When implemented successfully, it will increase employee satisfaction and adoption rates, enhance the efficiency of front-line and back-office employees, and solidify the organizations’ safety and compliance – the very reasons why carriers undertake it.
Taha Zaidi also contributed to this article.