Don’t Go Mobile unless….

pulse14

What’s great about PULSE is it gets you re-energized, gives you a shot of adrenaline, and a kick in the butt to get back out there and fight the good fight. The use case presentations for those of us that have been around Maximo for many years help re-affirm what elements lead to successful and not so successful implementations and for those new to the game provide valuable advice on what rabbit holes to avoid.  Having recently been put in charge of a new Maximo implementation I had to test my temptation of avoiding just that.  One of those rabbit holes is Mobile.  Mobile is the hot topic but be aware that the consumer experience is very different from the enterprise business experience and mobile isn’t the answer when you haven’t clearly identified where you are and where you want to go with your business processes.  You need to pay close attention to what elements lead to a successful implementation before you ever say the word mobile.  I may be preaching to the choir but it bears repeating that the following elements always seem to be at the core of successful implementation experiences:

Partnership between IT and Users – These two groups must work together towards a common goal, but the measurement of success if very different between the two.  IT’s success can be measured in a more objective way in terms of getting the software installed and configured, debugged according to the technical and software performance specifications.  But it is a completely different situation with the users.  They measure success in a very subjective manner and their definition is based more on how they perceive the user experience regardless of how well the software is running and doing what it is supposed to do.    ently been put in charge of a new Maximo implementation I had to test my temptation of avoiding just that.  One of those rabbit holes is Mobile.  Mobile is the hot topic but be aware that the consumer experience is very different from the enterprise business experience and mobile isn’t the answer when you haven’t clearly identified where you are and where you want to go with your business processes.  You need to pay close attention to what elements lead to a successful implementation before you ever say the word mobile.  I may be preaching to the choir but it bears repeating that the following elements always seem to be at the core of successful implementation experiences:

Good Data – The foundation of success is rooted in clean, reliable, accurate, fact based data.  The credibility of your system depends entirely upon the accuracy of your data.  Spend the time it takes to really find out what information you need, why you need it, and who needs it.   Don’t collect data that doesn’t matter.  Remember the more you want the more it cost to get it.  Make sure is serves a useful purpose.

Business Process Analysis – Just as important as good data is the processes of getting that data into and out of the system. This requires really understanding how your operation performs the work, obtains the required information, and how it gets that in front of those that need it.  Assessing these workflows and streamlining these processes is critical in establishing configuration requirements in support of your business.

Managing Expectations – Someone needs to be in charge of defining the dance floor.  Typically this tends to be someone from IT.  This is just the opposite of what should be.  Operations/Users are the ones that have to use it, live with it, work with it, and have to own it. Truly successful implementations are driven by users with realistic expectations and a good technical support team.

To get the most from Maximo there is nothing more important than getting processes defined and streamlined in support of what management has set as the vision and direction for the organization.  Mobile smart devices become the tool of choice when you look to eliminating paper processes and making Maximo “work like we do” to get and deliver the data to those that need it, the way they need it.  High expectations base on our personal “There’s an App for That” experience sets the standard and becomes a challenge when trying to deliver a similar experience with an enterprise business mobile application.  The solution that is “right” can be a bewildering and a hotly contested debate between users and IT.  That is why it is so important that use cases are firmly rooted in well-defined business process requirements established by users.

A few obvious and not so obvious considerations when assessing your mobile solution include:

  • Platform for devices (IOS, Android, Windows Mobile)
  • Device Compatibility – what types of devices can be used on the platform
  • License Structure (named vs concurrent)
  • Online – Offline connectivity
  • Support services
  • User interface – ease of use
  • System Architecture
  • Configurability of applications
  • Skills required to develop applications
  • Administration and deployment of applications
  • Integration needs with other systems besides Maximo
  • Security and BYOD policies
  • Device management and hardware support

Mobile is hot, so be careful that you don’t get burned. Success depends on meeting user expectations.  Get your requirements act together, set realistic user expectations, and —–partner with IT to architect a solution that simplifies the user experience.

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About Randy McDaniel:
Randy has a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the California State University at Fullerton and has spent over 35 years in the field of maintenance engineering, maintenance planning, capital projects construction, and facilities maintenance. His industry experience includes oil refineries, petrochemical plants, universities, steel mills, assembly plants, lumber mills, and utility plants.

He has spent time as a Maximo senior consultant providing business process re-engineering assessments and managing Maximo implementations. A vocal advocate of Maximo, Randy has been the Chairman of the Southern California Maximo Users Group since 1998 where he often presents best practices, tips and other real life Maximo experiences.

Currently Randy is the Maximo System Administrator and Facilities Management Information Systems Integration Manager at the University of California Los Angeles. He manages the implementation of Maximo and provides IT integration direction and vision for the General Services business unit.

This post originally appeared on the Tivoli User Community boards on March 3, 2014, and is reprinted with permission of the author

 

Counting your inventory before it hatches

Thinking about using an iPad or phone to scan your inventory?
“Saving” money with consumer grade phone cameras may cost you in the long run.

From UPC to QR codes, the omni-present black and white bands are everywhere. And, with the growth of smart phones, those funky lines and squares can be read by anyone. But, should that drive your bar code reading choice for your Maximo system? Probably not.

Bar Code Question Mark

Using a Smart phone to scan your inventory may not be very smart.

Why can’t I use my smart phone? Well, you can use your smart phone…or iPad, for certain asset management applications. I prefer using a rugged tablet for work orders and mapping. For quick approvals of work orders, a smart phone is great. I know: You’ve heard the argument about the cost of dropping and breaking a device. And yes, while there are cases that make iPads a little more rugged, they won’t make up for the down time when they do break.

But that’s not the total argument
Here’s something you may not have considered…try to scan with any type of speed with one of those devices and your going to find out the limitations of that snazzy device. You’ll see that cycle counting is going to take much longer than if you used a dedicated mobile scanning device.

Well, why is that?
The problem lies in the technology to capture the bar code. Smart phones, and by extension, iPads and other consumer grade tablets use their full color cameras to capture and interpolate the image. Plus, each time you snap that image, the camera needs to take a few seconds to auto-focus and take the picture. They also can blur, possibly misreading the scan, although it is more likely that it just won’t register and you have to repeat the effort again, which also translates into lost time and productivity.

Commercial grade scanners (and there are some built into rugged tablets), are designed specifically to read the black and white bars…or more to the point the white space between the bars. They capture the image quickly in one shot, because they don’t need to focus. Because they are designed specifically for reading bar codes, you can bet that performing a physical count of your inventory in Maximo is going to go much faster. And that’s not even taking into account bar codes on high shelves that your phone can’t see clearly

Maximo is an Enterprise level system. Doesn’t it make sense to use enterprise level equipment to make it as efficient as possible? You bet your sweet WONUM it does!


Kat Pullen is a Convergence Specialist at DataSplice, LLC, a mobile computing company founded in 2001 to deliver handheld technology to Maximo users in the field. One of her first gigs at DataSplice was hardware sales, and she’s heard a tale or two about bad bar code scanners.