Xcel with a CMMS that meets your needs, not your wants

Sept. 6, 2006
It is important that your CMMS matches the needs of your organization, and you can’t rely on the opinions of others -- you have to take it upon yourself to identify your requirements and find the best match. Take it from someone who knows: 20-year old CMMS telemarketer and PlantServices.com columnist “Ben Keith.” You'll be surprised at what you learn. Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

Your favorite telemarketer has returned for a fifth article. If this is your first time reading, I apologize for the following statements. As for the 20 people who came back, a life lesson: ‘If there’s one thing you don’t want to be a glutton for – it’s punishment,’ although you should be used to it by now.

To recap, following my equation for CMMS success you have just Xamined vendors (Part III) and analyzed your Xpansion (Part IV) based on their offerings. There has been a lot more build up to this. If you want to know more click here for Part I and Part II.

To start this article I’d like to briefly relate a true experience. At the tender age of 16 (a couple of years ago) I was offered my first car. It was a 1977 white T-top Stingray Corvette with tan leather interior. However, I refused it. And instead got a 1980 Plymouth Volare with maroon interior and a blown stereo. Crazy you say? No, genius. Why? Let me Xplain:


Xcel: To surpass another. To be superior in performance, quality, or degree. Simply put, in my equation Xcel implies vendor Xcellence for your particular situation and need. Let’s return to my opening scenario. I needed a drivable car that I could afford. Which one met my need? Both. However which one Xcelled at it? With the lower insurance premiums and fuel economy the choice was easy, the Volare. And I was mature enough to realize that. Sure, we could have afforded to buy the Stingray, but I couldn’t afford the insurance, gas and likely future tickets. The Volare was a step ahead in every conceivable way for my needs. Which makes an important point: Xcel is based on needs and thus of greater value than Xceed.

So go out and by a Volare. It’s the better car.

Not really. Just because the Volare worked for me doesn’t mean it will work for you. I know that was painfully obvious, but this is an important concept many people fail to acknowledge. When comparing vendors, organizations will often base their decisions on Xperiences of friends or competitors. Unfortunately Vendors can and will encourage this line of thinking, when they see it as an advantage. They simply will point to the amount of their satisfied customers as proof that you will be one to. While this reasoning isn’t without basis, the most important aspect of Xcel is when the software Xcels at meeting your specific needs, not someone else’s. Just remember that implementations are like snowflakes; no two are the same. So when reading case studies of clients, who had software that Xcelled for them, evaluate judiciously. You should think to yourself: “it was the best for them,” and we might add “at that time.” Like that Volare was good for me … at the time. If you really were to go looking for a Volare you might find my former ‘Heavenly Chariot,’ as it came to be called, for sale or in a junkyard. I no longer have any use for it. This brings us to an interesting point to ponder.

Over an organization’s life-span they will likely end up using different CMMS systems. There is no end all, permanent solution. So, just because a customer is satisfied now, or when the case study was performed, doesn’t mean it will always be. However the length of time until they reach the unsatisfied mark can be increased. This is where Xceed comes in.

Xceed: The great beyond. Xceed implies performing at a level greater than required to meet your needs. Xceed is almost always wanted. Likely because it’s often the “wow” factor.

The wow factor can be a misunderstood term.  My definition of wow factor as it applies to CMMS is: that jaw-dropping bit of technology that adds a sparkle to the finished product. As vendors, we learn early on what will wow and how.  We go to great lengths to show this to you. That’s because we know often times the vendor with the most wow power wins. I’m not entirely sure why this is. Interestingly the wow power influence isn’t limited to humans. A common trap for smaller primates is a shiny ring attached to the inside of a coconut with a small opening. The primate sees the shiny ring, grabs it, and then is caught because his fist won’t fit outside the hole. Sadly this is a common mistake even among higher forms of life. A company sees a new shiny piece of technology and buys it. Soon after, they find out, to their horror, that the shiny thing was all part of a cleverly designed trap. The saddest part of this story is that the reason why the monkey is caught is because he refuses to let go. So the next time you start to be wowed stop and say to yourself: “I’m not a monkey,” and let it go.

Please don’t think I’m calling you a bunch of monkeys. As I understand, there are no monkeys that have access to the Internet, and even if they did, do you think they’d be reading this article? No. So, no one is a monkey. That is unless you consider yourself a “grease monkey,” then I stand corrected.

Moving on…

Here is some wow popular right now:

  • PDA / Mobile Phone solutions
  • Buisness Intelligence tools
  • Real Time Data Analysis
  • Web Architecture
  • Enterprise Business Systems Integration

The previous points aren’t always Xceed. They only apply to Xceed when defined by your organization as wants and not needs.

The irony is that more often than not, the Xceed that wowed its audience, once purchased, is rarely used. “So,” you may rightly wonder, “is there any value to Xceed?” Yes and no.

If you’re a reader of this series, you may be thinking: “Why is he still writing and when will he stop?” But the question relevant to this material would be: “Didn’t he already cover Xceed when he wrote about Xpansion?” While the two are closely related, they are quite different. Xpansion was based on your needs of the future with the vendor’s current product offerings in mind. Xceed is the vendor’s current product functions that go beyond your needs in any way, regardless of your future. This can include your wants. However, more than likely there will be much of Xceed that will be nothing more than Xcess, which is worthless.
When presented with Xceed the tendency is to say to yourself, “maybe we would use that” to every function that looks remotely appealing. This thinking can easily compromise all the evaluation you’ve done up to this point. Never buy software based on features that, while sounding attractive, will never be used by your company. It’s like those bowling shoes that you thought were going to save you money. They’re the cleanest pair of shoes you own that you can’t wear anywhere. So to determine if Xceed is Xcess ask yourself questions like: “Can I see the organization I work for putting this function to use? Will this new technology be accepted with open arms by the departments affected?” Then, answer these in your mind honestly. If your answers to such questions is: “Yeah, when gas is back to 99 cents a gallon,” your answer is Xcess. Don’t even factor it in. It brings nothing to the table.

Not all Xceed is Xcess. I liken it to XM radio. I don’t own it. I consider it to be too expensive for a casual listener. In fact, until recently I thought it was a well-marketed waste of money aimed at suckers. However, that changed after spending significant travel time in a rental car. I found that not only were specific music genres available, but also comedy stations. I came to appreciate its usefulness, nearly forgetting that I was spending the entire week with in-laws. Still, I don’t subwcribe to XM, and I wouldn’t base my decision to buy a car on this feature. This highlights a difference between Xcel and Xceed. Xcel is the car. Xceed is the feature. Features should never outweigh the car.

However, just because Xceed is merely a bonus doesn’t mean it can’t be a big bonus. Sometimes Xceed will Xtend the life of your CMMS by meeting a yet unrealized future need. The value here though is undetermined. It also is unforeseen, otherwise it would have been planned Xpansion and thus based on needs. So, even with this value Xceed will never be greater than Xcel.

Choosing Xcel over Xceed isn’t the popular choice. Perhaps, this is because to many wants are defined as needs. In any case, the majority are wrong. Some organizations use CMMS. Some are even happy with theirs. But few have met the high standard of CMMS Success. To make the right decision a company must primarily evaluate a vendor based on his ability to Xcel at the company’s needs, and not on the functions that Xceed them. This takes a mature company.

Speaking of maturity our next article is going to look at yet another X by which to evaluate vendors.

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