boeing mobile maintenance tools

The search for MRO IT

John Barry, senior vice-president of Seabury MRO, discusses what firms should look for when selecting new maintenance software.

John Barry, senior vice-president of Seabury MRO, discusses what firms should look for when selecting new maintenance software.

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Henry Ford may have had transport in mind when he uttered those immortal words; however, on my article it is about more modern forms of transport and aviation in particular. The point remains valid. The topic we examine is aviation MRO IT solutions and what each organisation should consider in selection of their future systems.    

It strikes me that MRO IT is an enabler to change rather than change itself. Once an organisation has established the need to improve how it achieves its goals, there is little doubt modern technology will hit the agenda. A flawed business process mapped to any new technology is doomed to failure from the outset. Improving the control and visibility of this process will not achieve the required results.

Hence to begin the selection of MRO IT, the suggested method is to begin looking inwards first prior to searching the market. This internal examination must be undertaken in a holistic approach. Do not look at each department or function in isolation. Try to consider how each process flows through the company.

The involvement of key personnel from all the areas within a committee, led by a person with authority to enact the findings, is key to overall success.

Once the requirements are clearly defined and the functionality necessary to improve your process is identified, the external phase can begin. There are many options available from point solutions - “best of breed” up to full ERP. The budget required for each category can vary enormously – noting that paying more does not guarantee success. Selecting correctly has a greater impact on the outcome. Knowing the budget range you plan to spend will allow you to focus time and energy on those vendors within it.

With online webinars, presentations and global conferences focused on this specific area, much of the market research can be easily undertaken. This allows an RFI to focus on vendors broadly, matching your functionality requirements and your budget. To avoid information overload, you can limit the RFI issue to between five- and ten vendors. Ultimately, the short list should come down to no more than two vendors.

Those short-listed vendors need to come on-site and present specific functionality requested by your committee. You need to access not just the product but also the vendor. Do they know your business? Have they the global reach to support you? What is their track record and, most importantly, will their culture fit with yours?

This is not a short-term exercise; it is one that will define your company into the future. Make sure the provider of this critical service is one you can trust and who can become a long-term partner.

Of course, if I had another soapbox, I could fill it ten times over with the key aspects of implementation.  Let’s just leave it that the easy part was selecting. It takes time and dedication from both sides to successfully deploy any MRO IT solutions.

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