Culture Change and Software Customization
I read a lot about game changing EAM CMMS, FM, ERP and CBM software that when implemented properly can bring about tremendous cost savings to an organization. But how much should organizations have to change in order to accommodate technology and how much should the software be customized to fit current operational practices?
The answer is not clear cut as every organization has a different culture, assets of varying age and employees with unique skill sets. It should also be understood that the need for better asset or maintenance management does not mean that everything is broken or does not work well. Sometimes new technology is necessary to compete in today’s marketplace.
Therefore, each organization must weigh the cost of change against the opportunity for improvement AND the impact on its existing culture. This article focuses on the impact that enterprise level software may have on an organization’s culture.
Recognizing the Need for Asset Management Improvement
Making the decision to implement an enterprise level change in operations is a top level decision. This is because an enterprise level change means that fundamental asset and maintenance management processes will be changed.
Fundamental changes are usually the result of recognizing that something is broken and needs to change in order for the organization as a whole to be competitive or survive. However, adjusting an organization’s fundamental operations is not an easy task and comes with a variety of costs.
The Costs of Change
It would be great if we could just say let’s do it, press a button, load a few programs and have all the asset detail one can dream about.
Yes, it would be nice but the reality is decisions must also be made on:
- Which operational, financial and administrative processes will be changed and why.
- Will the EAM CMMS system be web-based or self-hosted?
- How will training be conducted?
- How will the need for change be communicated?
- How will the software be implemented (action plan)?
- Prioritizing the list of items to get under control first.
- Creating an action plan for implementation, collecting feedback and follow-up.
These are just a few of the considerations related to the mechanics of implementing an EAM CMMS system. Other considerations must also be given to preparing and managing corporate and maintenance staff through the changes.
All these decisions require time, planning and careful thought. They not only have a direct financial cost but also impact the corporate culture. It is the cost of changing the corporate culture that must be managed with extreme care to avoid a disaster.
EAM CMMS Impact on Corporate Culture
Every organization has corporate culture. The culture develops over time as a result of ownership, executive management styles, how expectations are set, how objectives are measured, the system of rewards that are in place and traditions. Therefore, changing how the organization and employees perform with an EAM CMMS and are measured in their jobs impacts corporate culture.
It would be naive to assume that employees will welcome change with open arms and undying loyalty if they do not understand how the new system will benefit them personally. Without staff buy-in, staff may not actively engage in adopting the change and may even be disruptive.
Blindly forcing change such as automating work management or the use of mobile handheld devices can lead to turnover and failed implementations. Without vision, the end result could well be that the new system will be underutilized, turnover will be higher and cost savings will not be realized.
Changing corporate culture is not an overnight task. An organization must have the right leadership in place that can make use of various operations management styles to lead, coach and get employees to understand how the change will benefit them as well as the organization.
The Need to Customize EAM CMMS Software
The object of asset and maintenance management software is to bring technology into the work place that can enable substantial improvement in processes and efficiencies. However, as noted above, an organization cannot simply press a button and expect wondrous results.
Because every organization is unique and may have different objectives, a quality EAM CMMS should be able to be customized to fit the organization’s needs changing corporate culture if necessary.
On the other hand, senior management has to recognize that an enterprise level software solution is a company-wide change. It will affect the organization as a whole not just maintenance. The degree of customization is a critical decision that must be made keeping in mind that too much customization may defeat the purpose of the EAM CMMS tool.
Implementing EAM CMMS Cultural Change
This returns us to the original question. When making an enterprise level change how much should the organization’s culture change to meet the software solution and how much should the system be customized to accommodate corporate culture?
The first part of the answer comes when executive management makes a determination early on as to how broken the asset management is. For example, an organization on the brink of survival (turnaround situation) may need to totally change its culture whereas an organization looking for a better competitive edge may have greater cultural flexibility.
Once a decision and commitment from senior management about the future of operations is made, the next logical step is to find the appropriate EAM CMMS software that can be customized to meet the needs of the organization.
Finally, leadership must be found that is able to meld collaborative, coaching and authoritative skills to achieve organizational buy-in and a successful implementation.
In summary, the short answer is that an organization’s culture will change if the EAM CMMS software is being used properly. It should never be changed based solely on the how software works. The degree of customization is simple a balance of the two.
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