Technical consultants are frequently a lot of things: including skilled, knowledgeable, and expensive (relatively speaking). In most cases, technical consultants are engaged either to execute a specific project or to augment your existing workforce and fill in a knowledge or skills gap which does not make sense to fill organically.
In the IBM Maximo world consultants often fill a couple of needs. First, the technical aspects of Maximo require multiple disciplines and knowledge of the Maximo data structure and the out-of-box process flow. Second, Maximo consultants are frequently also fluent in the business of maintenance which allows them to add value by offering solutions to common problems businesses face.
Since consultants are often engaged on a limited basis (constrained by a project scope) and don’t always have an intimate knowledge of your business, here are some best practices in order to help you get the most value for your money when using a Maximo consultant:
Your Maximo consultant ultimately works for your business, and their goal should be to help you realize optimization and process improvement. Unless your consultant is deeply integrated into your business they aren’t going to have the same level of insight into the critical areas of your business, corporate policy, and history, or even office politics. Identifying ownership over the various business segments, processes, and data is critical to providing your consultant with proper direction and feedback. Further, establishing an ownership team and a process to handle changing requirements (and even testing during the actual change implementation) will only help your business get the most out of your consultant.
Focus on Business Processes
Maximo is an incredibly flexible application with a wide range of features, add-ons, and industry solutions. A common mistake businesses make is trying to drive their business processes based on the tools and features Maximo offers. While there are times this is appropriate (notably when Maximo helps identify an opportunity to leverage an industry best practice, prevent an audit finding, or even bring a process into compliance with an industry requirement) in general your business process should drive how Maximo is configured and ultimately used on a daily basis.
During the initial implementation of Maximo or during major business changes it’s important to map out key business processes, paying special attention to pain points, potential areas for compliance violations if processes aren’t followed, or even contract deliverables and key performance metrics. Your Maximo consultant can help facilitate this discussion and offer technical options in order to streamline and enforce your business processes while minimizing additional workload on your users (ultimately making your business more efficient and saving you money).
To a slightly lesser extent, this same principle applies to smaller changes like adding a new field or designing a new report. In many cases, there is a better way to either collect data than adding a custom field. Maximo does several things behind the scenes that you won’t necessarily know without your consultant providing their insight. If you come with a request to simply add a field you won’t always get the same value as if you simply present your business need and allow the consultant to offer the best solution.
Maximo is an investment, and so is your relationship with your consultant. These investments are made in order to gain value, either in terms of becoming more efficient as a business, improving the maintenance process in order to increase asset longevity or maintaining compliance with corporate or industry regulations. In addition to these focus areas, consider how changes impact users: if a change makes a common process more efficient there is potentially added value, but it should be balanced against the learning curve or even training requirements.
Even the information you gather and track should be prioritized based on the value it provides you. Tracking meter readings or even serial numbers for equipment can be a significant workload, and should be weighed against the value (or requirement) to capture and input that level of detail.
Processes Capture Data, Data Drives Everything
Modern business should be heavily influenced by data, whether it’s prioritizing which assets we replace rather than continuing to maintain, which areas of our business need additional resources, or even how much we charge customers; the data necessary to make informed business decisions should be readily available.
Maximo supports several methods for garnering insights from the data in your system, but the more complex the question, the more you may need to lean on a consultant. Additionally, you may have a question or performance metric in mind that your system simply can’t answer for you, either because you aren’t collecting the minimum information or your business process doesn’t provide the level of fidelity needed to properly measure performance.
A good consultant can not only provide you tools to perform this analysis, but they can also offer potential system or business solutions that will take the insights you gain from this analysis and improve your business processes, make you more efficient, and ultimately increase your profit margin.