Bluefield Round Table – Implementing New Technology

Oct 14, 2019 11:14:01 AM

What advice would you give to those seeking to introduce new technologies into their asset management teams?

Introducing new technologies into a maintenance team has a mixed success rate (at best). Whether it’s new apps, mobile devices, new tools, or the emerging fields of automation and AI, Bluefield has seen far too many of these projects over-promise and under-deliver. But if done well, new technology can lead to huge performance gains.

We asked some of Bluefield’s asset management specialists the following question:

What advice would you give to those seeking to introduce new technologies into their asset management teams?

James Owen

There are three things required for success: People, the System, and Process. Don’t forget you need to invest just as much care in the people and the process. If you don’t have a well-designed and clearly articulated process, the people will be pulled down and so will the system. Likewise, if you fail to provide adequate engagement, ownership and suitable training, the people won’t follow the process and the system won’t achieve its full potential.

James applies these principles across a number of previous fields – watch his videos on materials management and read his articles on operational readiness.

Gerard Wood

I always get nervous when the people say what the software or technology does, thinking that it will solve a problem for them. In fact, software never does anything. Only people do stuff and often they use software tools to help them do it more efficiently and effectively. If they are trying to get technology to solve a people problem, it will always fail. They need to have the correct intent up front, which is to enable the team to do their current tasks, that they already do well, more efficiently and effectively.

Ian Peterson

If the new technology is required to perform a new business function that cannot be done by existing processes, then its introduction needs to be executed as a formal project, utilising sound project and change management principles; including assessment of operational readiness and people, systems and facilities requirements.

If the technology is being introduced because existing processes are failing to deliver expected outcomes, then its introduction should only proceed after the root causes of existing processes’ failures are fully understood.

If the root causes of existing processes’ failures are people related, then introducing a new technology is unlikely to be successful until the underlying people issues are resolved. It is highly likely that these same people issues are also negatively impacting many other business processes.

People related issues can include leadership, bureaucracy, culture, engagement, ownership, motivation, morale, training, alignment, trust, values, behaviour, respect, performance management, recognition and reward. People are our most complex and valuable asset, and if effectively led, will deliver great value to the business. If not, let the games continue.

If the root causes of existing processes’ failures relate to the condition or capability of the existing technology and improvement actions have failed to deliver the required performance, then proceed to implement the new technology as described above.

David Archinal

Make sure the app adds value. An app in and of itself doesn't solve the problem, people must use it and understand why it's important. Without that it will be a waste of time.

Watch one of Dave’s earlier videos on changes in the maintenance field.

Gerard Wood

The other problem is when the people start working for the technology. It must work for the people. There have been many great technologies that have failed to deliver because of the acceptance of the people, not the technology itself.

Read one our earlier round tables – facilitated by Gerard, on Becoming a Good Maintenance Manager.