I was reading about the decision by Marin County, CA to walk away from a $30 million investment in an Enterprise Resource Planning system after outside consultants claimed it and wasn’t worth the cost to fix the problems.
A Case Study of Asset Management Implementation Gone Wrong
This asset management implementation disaster is destined to become a case study for graduate business programs because the parties failed to set the customers expectations but also because Marin County and Deloitte Consulting were blaming each other while the software vendor, SAP, took little or no responsibility for its products.
The sad part is they all lost; Marin County administrators for not thinking through their idea, Deloitte Consulting for a lack of vision and skill and lastly, SAP’s image for having a product that is difficult to implement.
The Root Cause of Asset Management System Software Implementation Failure
Contrary to popular belief, asking who is to blame for the failed implementation is not the question that customers, software vendors or consulting companies should be asking. 50-90% of implementations fail for software packages such as an EAM, ERP , CBM, CMMS, IWMS, CIFM, FMIS or any other type of asset management tool because Sales sold a product that could not realistically meet the customer’s expectations.
What do customer expectations have to do with this? In short, EVERYTHING! Successfully implementing asset management system software means that the customer is happy with the results. It does not mean that everything works perfectly. Although this would be nice, there are countless points of failure during the course of an implementation. As a result, the customers and vendor expectations must be managed from beginning to end.
If you fail to realize that setting expectations is the true cornerstone of communication then you are doomed to repeat your errors over and over again. Purchasing and setting up an asset management software is not like buying a box of cereal. It requires work and a substantial amount of time.
This is the first of a multi-part series that every vendor, potential customer and consulting company should memorize. At the end of the series a new opportunity will be presented that may change the way asset management software is sold.
The Role of the Players
Setting expectations is part of the overall communication process. To better understand the pivotal role of communications, let us first define the role of the key players in the decision to purchase asset management system software. Although roles may vary or change over the course of the sale and implementation, it is absolutely mission critical that buy-in is achieved from the customer at all levels in their organization.
In order for this to be accomplished, decision makers for the customer must actively engage in open communication with end users as well as other departments whose resources will be needed (ex: facilities staff, accounting, purchasing, IT). Without buy-in, the EAM/CMMS system is just another tool forced upon staff that will not be set-up or used correctly.
The Sales Executive
Salespeople are driven to produce results. Their goal is to either create a need or guide a potential client’s needs to their product. Sales for big ticket items are usually relationship based. It is the relationship building that forms the bond of trust as well as setting the early customer and vendor expectations.
As the sales cycle progresses, salespeople are responsible for setting the table as they must match customer expectations/needs with the product they represent. Sales needs to present realistic vendor expectations to the customer. Vendor executives should not be wondering what was promised during the sale.
The Executive or Decision Makers
The Executive or decision makers are the person or group that can define the top level need (pain) for an organization. They are the initial line of communication to the vendor or third party consultant. Most importantly, the decision maker(s) are the person(s) accountable for achieving buy-in throughout the company.
The other major role of the decision maker is to ensure that there are enough internal resources to complete the project before the asset management system software is purchased. This includes but is not limited to:
- Assigning a project manager or putting together a team for the implementation.
- Making sure work flow processes are understood. This information determines where the bottlenecks are. The problems identified will be among the first expectations given to the vendor.
- Making sure time and money is available for asset detail set-up. It may take several months or longer to collect and enter in asset detail for tens of thousands of assets.
- Making sure time and money is available for staff training. For example, maintenance staff will be the heaviest users of a CMMS, but they are always busy (otherwise you would not need help). What is the plan to free up their time?
Operations – Client
This is the software implementation team who share responsibility with the vendor and/or systems integration consultants to make the asset management system work. Ideally, this group represents all of the areas to be impacted by the asset management system software including maintenance staff, planners, engineers and management.
It is very important that this function is not delegated to outside consultants because true buy-in comes from participating in the process to make things better. In addition, this is the group that will assume the role of continually improving workflow and processes for asset management.
Operations – Vendor
This group includes the project manager, EAM/CMMS trainers, technical support and any other resource needed to meet/exceed customer expectations. This group of individuals is responsible for understanding what was sold and how to deliver it.
Ultimate responsibility for a successful implementation falls squarely on the vendor. Having a good product doesn’t do much if you can’t make it work the way a client wants. Actions of the client or consulting group may be the cause of a failed implementation but it is the vendors name on the product.
The Consultant or Third Party
Consultants if used, essentially play the role of project management. They are responsible for making sure that customer expectations and vendor product are set up correctly to achieve the desired goals. Whether consultants act as pure facilitators, guides or are contracted to perform the actual set-up of the system is irrelevant. However, it is critical that consultants understand the expectations of both customer and vendor.
Now that the general roles of the key players has been outlined, the next step is to understand why setting the proper expectations are important to all the parties involved. Our next post will cover why and how to set expectations between client, vendor and/or a third party.
If you liked this article, you may also want to read:
- Six Factors For Why Your CMMS/EAM Doesn’t Do What You Had Hoped For
- Characteristics of an EAM/CMMS Administrator
- What does SaaS mean? How can it save me money?
Did you like Why Asset Management System Implementations Fail – Part I?
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