A different perspective on CMMS purchasing: part 2

Jan. 7, 2006
The second part of this two-part Web-exclusive column from "Ben Keith" explains that excitement is an integral part of implementing CMMS. You might be surprised what you can learn from an anonymous 20-year-old CMMS telemarketer.

Read Part I of X: The key to success in CMMS

Here we go again. That telemarketer punk who thinks he knows it all. Yeah, I’m back. This time however, I’m a more humble writer who will refrain from patronizing his educated audience. If you believe that last sentence, I have a bridge in New York I think you may be interested in purchasing.

I hate to begin each article being rude and accusatory, well actually I don’t. This information should be common knowledge and probably is. It’s just not used that way. So tough beans. Here comes another blindingly bright flash of the obvious from your favorite telemarketer.

I began the last article recommending an Xhaustive self-study as the first step for purchasing CMMS. That self-study was meant to identify your needs.

But why stop there? The Xhaustion has only begun. After you have accumulated this information (completed the Xhaustive self-study) and realized that CMMS is a need, the next step is to make it known. One problem: you let this cat out of the bag and it is likely to get shot, and dead cats do your maintenance organization no favors. If anyone from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is reading this: No cats were harmed in the writing of this article. So for your maintenance organization’s sake, for  your cat’s sake, you need to identify the potentially deadly bullets. Make these bullets bullet items on a sheet of paper.

You may be thinking, “I already did this when I Xhausted the possibilities in the previous article.” Wrong. This Xhaustion is to be done from a totally different point of view. Analyze the project from the highest possible angle, start in outerspace if you have must. How is this project going to effect the global economy? What about your future prospects of becoming a worldwide organization?

Do these sound like dumb questions? Well, get used to them. Many CMMS hopes end in failure because management feels that those pursuing it can’t see the “bigger picture” while management obviously does. Whether your particular management team has the gift of foresight or not is arguable. However, the point remains that this is typically the first bullet to be fired. (This line of thought may not apply to your company. This is either from a glorious lack of involvement from management, which will doom your project later on, or you’re in an extremely optimistically run company that grants near limitless resources to it’s highly trusted employees. Take a guess which is more likely.) So be prepared to paint the big picture. But make sure your picture is a sketch. If you’re too ahead of the game with details this can also destroy your hopes, because that is where management is heading and they don’t like to be predicted. It makes them feel like a puppet getting their strings pulled, and it doesn’t help if one of them has the name Kermit. (If you’re a manager and you’re reading this, I apologize for my logical conclusions that foretell your reactions. And I’m not sure how I know your favorite color is blue). They’re going to want to know specific data that proves the need. And guess what? You already know that information thanks to the previous article. Make sure you state facts, not assumptions. Keep it simple and logical and you may avoid one of the biggest project killers: the back burner. 

There are many other potential road blocks ahead. Write them down as soon as you think of them and strive to address them in advance. To help you get on the right track, find out if you have ever pursued CMMS in the past. If so, sink your teeth into all the information available about that project like a starving wolverine, especially if the project failed. In which case, you can consider yourself like the guy who goes back in time and says to the designer of the Titanic, “Hey, maybe we should put a few more life boats on this baby.” Remember if you don’t learn from your mistakes history repeats itself. This information may give you an extremely valuable glimpse into the mind of management, identifying problems and individuals that destroyed the last project. Maybe this time, the puppy won’t sink. If you currently own a CMMS, the information related to its acquisition can be similarly useful.

Overcoming these roadblocks is important for your project’s future, but that will get you only so far before the whole thing runs out of gas. You need gas. Gas that will keep your project hopes burning bright and clear to its completion. “Where can I find such Gas?” you ask. Well, its in your managers, coworkers, and fellow employees (Insert pun about hot air here). If you think I’m joking, rest assured I’m not. They’re all part of the equation for CMMS success. This step is described as…

Xcite: Xcite is defined, in my formula, as the degree by which you multiply your foundation, Xhaust. Describing it as gas was not a coincidence. That’s the kind of explosive impact it can have on your project. However, it is not the easiest part of this equation because it largely depends on others. Now before you attempt to go jump off a bridge realizing you have to depend on coworkers for success, keep in mind that this will most likely take only a little effort on your behalf. The two proceeding statements may sound conflicting, but they’re not. To illustrate, let’s say your coworker is a car (you may pick any make or model you wish, so long as it runs). Your goal is to get them running. Now the internal process to start a car can be complicated and is not the easiest thing to describe. However that is not your concern. All you need to know is which key to use to get the thing started.

Your goal is to Xcite people about your project. They’re support is what will eventually make your project a reality. And speaking from a CMMS prospective there are many individuals to Xcite to achieve success. Let’s start with the very obvious, management.

From a previous article some may think that I’m a little biased against management. Truthfully, I’m not. And I certainly do not wish to stereotype them. That being said, I think there is at least one common tool that can be used to Xcite any reasonable manager: money. Not the kind used to bribe the officials of Superbowl XL, but the kind they’ll save by use of a CMMS system. This all goes back to the Xhaustive study done at the outset. So the Xciting part is done? No. After Xciting management they may require that you get buy-in or input from one of the following departments/individuals, and thus these to you will need to Xcite: IT, maintenance supervisors/managers, purchasing department, materials handling/inventory controllers, accounts payable, HR, and possibly a whole host of others.

A good way to start a dialogue with these various areas is to ask about their experience with CMMS and how they would like to interact with a potential system. Input is good, even if at times overwhelming. Describe what you’re looking for, specifying the needs you’re looking to fill. Often times, merely showing yourself to be Xcited will have the same effect on your fellow employees. Do the same thing for anyone who will be working for you, as they will be the most likely ones providing the data that makes the system valuable.

You must maintain this level of Xcitement giving regular updates and gathering information about the various department’s/individual’s needs as they become important throughout the project. These individuals may very well pick up the torch on this project and carry it for you, making your job easier.

While ideally you want total buy-in, not all will be swayed, stating legitimate reasons for their lack of enthusiasm. Treat this like you did the previous road blocks. Write them down and keep track of them. Do not attempt to go about a forced conversion process. This will only hurt feelings and may create internal fighting leading to failure. This circumstance is best left up to management. Remember, less than total buy-in does not mean failure.

If enough Xcitement is generated your CMMS future will be bright. View Xcite as the catalyst for the next step in the next article: Xamine.

Email Ben Keith

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