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by | May 17, 2017

Maximo Support and Maintenance – The Abandoned Child of Many Projects

Thirty years ago when I returned from a long project implementing a CMMS solution for British Nuclear Electric, I recognized that IT Departments should be treating the systems they support the same way that Maintenance Departments treat physical assets. This was prior to there being anything like ITIL best practices, Application Support and Maintenance (ASM) Methodologies, and the like. There was no easy way to spread the message so I developed the processes and procedures for CMMS for IT Application Assets internally at the various companies I worked for.

The First Two Important Revelations

One: Application Support is different from project work, and, Two: Project people seldom make great support people. Projects typically have a start, middle and end, where as Application Support goes on in perpetuity. Project people thrive on the completion of tasks and then the next challenge. They do not want to deal with the issues that might exist once a project is completed, and they are less concerned about how an implemented system will be supported once it is live. Support people are problem solvers. They thrive on finding solutions, work to see systems improve over time, and have a true belief in owning issues through to resolution.

The Common IT Department Truth

Internal company IT Departments consist of various technical experts led by managers trying to do more with less every day. There are database experts, network and security experts, hardware gurus, server geniuses, and the application support folks.
Application support is often tasked with supporting too many systems with little or no application documentation, knowledge or training. The team does the best it can under those circumstances. They keep the system running, they administer user accounts, and might even provide some semblance of new user training. But they are ill-equipped to improve the system. They have little or no idea of how the report writing tools might work or how to configure, tune, troubleshoot issues with the system.

The Maximo Support Problem

One or two IT support people are usually assigned to support Maximo, along with the portfolio of other systems they already support. Typically, they will support things like the company’s ERP system (Finance, HR, Accounts Payable, GL) plus Maximo, Integrations, Servers, IT Service Desk Incidents, Requests, Change Management, and related Operational systems.
Many IT support managers do not want to hear that supporting a single system like Maximo requires more than one full time person – a person with a very specialized set of technical and functional skills. When they do come to the realization that highly skilled people are required to support the system, they try to hire those skills or try to train their people to achieve those skills and find that:

a) Skilled Maximo support people are a very rare commodity and;

b) There is no Maximo Support training available anywhere in the market.

I have heard at too many Maximo User Group meetings (MUGs) things like, “My IT Department does not have enough knowledge of Maximo”, “I can’t even get a simple thing like a new report created for me”, “It takes too long to get even a simple screen change implemented in the system”, “It has taken over a year to get Maximo upgraded and it was not done right the first time”…

The Maximo Support Solution

There are five key steps to ensuring your Maximo Application Support and Maintenance gets the attention it deserves. Giving the Maximo ASM this attention will result in improved adoption of Maximo in your company and better rates of return on your investment in your EAM Solution.

Figure 1: ASM for Maximo. Source: RIS Smart Methodology (Solution Management and Resource Tracking)

In the early 2000’s, I had the good fortune of working with a company called Resource Information Systems. It was the vision of the owner of RIS, Dr. Peter Thompson, that he would create the best Application Support and Maintenance company in Calgary, if not the world. To do so he called upon a group of his senior leaders to document the very best of what we did day-to-day at our client sites. We created the foundation for an entire support and maintenance methodology which is summarized in figure 1. This ASM cycle still holds true today and is particularly relevant to supporting Maximo.

Identify Support Requirements for the Business

Realize that supporting Maximo will require specific skill sets and training. The system will require full time dedicated support (at the very least when the system is first implemented). Also note that the support requirements will change as the system goes through its lifecycle.

Prepare the Support Plan

Support cannot be undertaken without proper planning. You need to plan for things like system outages, change management, vacation coverage, and business cycles. Failure to plan adequately for support will result in either paying too much for support (too many resources doing the wrong things), or not having enough support when it is most needed.
“My IT Department cannot improve Maximo”.
The key realization here is that the support plan needs to be redone every year as business needs evolve.

Perform System Maintenance and Enhancements

Document all enhancement requests, get business approval for all changes to the system, prioritize those changes and implement according to the agreed priorities. This is basic maintenance management that applies to managing Maximo as well as any physical assets your company maintains. Although not necessary, I encourage all of my Maximo customers to use Maximo to manage Maximo! Get your users creating Service Requests in Maximo and those SRs become the source of all enhancements and inquiries going forward.

Gather System Measurements

At least every year it is important to gather your support metrics. Look at the number of enhancements, support hours, failed enhancements, and change management statistics. Document the time spent training new users, and system administration. This will all give you a sense of how well you planned for your support and maintenance activity. A yardstick for continuous improvement of your support model.

Report and Improve

Prepare an annual Application Stewardship Report to the business. Allow them to see the details of what is involved with supporting Maximo. Highlight successes and learning events. Use the Report as input into your next cycle of planning, executing, measuring and reporting.
Do not expect Project People to Support Maximo
Project people will always want to move onto the next project. They do not want to manage help desk tickets and solve ongoing requests and issues. They may do this for a while, but ultimately will resent this work and will not want to stay at it for the long haul.
Do not expect your Application Support Team to Support Maximo without Training
Your support team needs to know how to support Maximo. They need to know what the server log files contain and where to look for problems. They need to know how to configure the system, tune workflows, and enhance applications.  They need to know the Maximo Database, table relationships, and query the backend system. They need to know how to add new users, administer application security, and monitor license usage. Ultimately, they need to know the business. They need to be not only capable of technically supporting the system, but they need to know how it functions so they can advise on how best to use Maximo to achieve the desired business results.

BPD Zenith’s Near-Shore Maximo Support

If you are a Maximo customer and you utilize the services of the BPD Zenith Maximo Solution Center you can be guaranteed that the benefits of this model are the following:

  • A person supporting your Maximo at or near the same time-zone that you operate in;
  • The person on the end of the line is an Application Support Professional who is also fully Maximo Certified;
  • User requests for support and enhancements will be properly prioritized, responded to, and resolved in a timely fashion;
  • Your overall “costs of supporting and improving Maximo” will be lower than doing it all in house.

If you are considering contracting out Maximo Support, then consider Near-Shore Support with Certified Maximo Professionals from BPD Zenith.

Stephen Hume

Stephen Hume

Stephen Hume is a seasoned Maximo Consultant working for BPD Zenith (Canada). He is a keen presenter at the following user group meetings: Facility Management Maximo User Group, Maximo Utility Working Group, Western Canada Maximo User Group, Canadian Maximo User Group, IBM Pulse, IBM Interconnect. His presentation topics have included; Upgrade Lessons Learned; Health Safety and Environment in Maximo; Mobile Incident Reporting using Maximo Anywhere; How to Prepare for and Survive an IBM Audit; Throw Away the Log Books with Maximo Operator Logs.

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