Top 6 challenges when deploying an APM software 

In today’s ever-evolving landscape of industrial maintenance and technology, deploying a new software solution is a pivotal moment for any plant or organization. Specifically, in the realm of Asset Performance Management (APM) software, which complements the functions of Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS), there are various common challenges and concerns that plant managers and decision-makers must grapple with. 

In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of deploying APM software, shedding light on the most prevalent problems that organizations may encounter during the process. These issues encompass employee resilience, timelines, resource allocation, budgeting, technology adoption, corporate alignment, and the critical mismatch between existing maintenance plans and the APM software structure. By exploring these challenges in detail, we aim to provide comprehensive insights into addressing and mitigating these hurdles effectively. 

1. Employee resistance: overstated but manageable  

   Employee resistance to change is a frequently cited concern when implementing new technologies, particularly among senior personnel accustomed to established processes. However, from our experience, while some resistance may exist, it is often overstated. People, including the older generation, are generally more adaptable than presumed. Nevertheless, addressing this concern requires effective change management strategies.

   Encourage open dialogue with employees, highlighting the benefits of the APM software, such as improved efficiency and reduced downtime. Provide ample training and support to ensure a smooth transition. Demonstrating the value of the software through tangible results can also quell apprehensions. 

2. Unrealistic Timelines and Resource Expectations: Communication is Key 

Unrealistic project timelines and client resource expectations can pose challenges during APM software deployment. It’s essential to recognize that successful deployment requires substantial collaboration and communication between the client and the APM vendor. Clients should be prepared to allocate between 30-50% of the total man-hours needed for the project, as some tasks require their unique insights into needs and expectations.  

   To address this, clients should discuss resource requirements and tasks with the deploying company to set realistic expectations. Additionally, emphasizing the iterative nature of the deployment process can help clients understand that APM software implementation is a dynamic, ongoing effort.

3. Budget Concerns: Planning Prevents Overspending  

Going over budget is a common fear when embarking on new projects. In APM software deployment, budget issues often stem from inadequate planning for client resource hours and the need for maintenance plan adjustments. However, with proper planning and an understanding that clients must contribute their manpower, budget adherence is achievable. 

   To mitigate budget concerns, organizations should conduct thorough cost assessments, it is important to include the time required by the organization in the cost. Collaboration with the deploying company to establish a transparent cost structure can also prevent budget overruns. 

4. Technology Adoption: Tailored Training for Success 

Technology adoption varies among users, particularly between maintenance engineers and field technicians. Maintenance engineers tend to face steeper learning curves as they interact with all aspects of the APM software. Nonetheless, effective training, especially if provided by the deploying company, can significantly ease the transition.  

   For technicians, pairing those requiring more assistance with tech-savvy colleagues for a brief period can expedite the learning process and boost confidence. Continuous learning and skill development should be encouraged to ensure the proficient use of the APM software. 

5. Corporate Alignment: Navigating Disagreement  

Disagreements between plant directors and the corporate entity can create substantial hurdles. In some scenarios, the plant may be enthusiastic about deploying APM, recognizing its potential to enhance efficiency and reduce downtime. However, a significant obstacle arises if the corporate entity, which typically manages the CMMS, is not aligned with this vision.  

   One of the key challenges in this situation is integrating APM with the existing CMMS. Corporate CMMS systems are often hosted on centralized corporate servers, making it complex to synchronize and connect with the APM software. This can result in technical complications, data transfer issues, and potential resistance from the corporate IT department. 

   To address this challenge, it’s imperative for the plant to engage in open and constructive dialogue with corporate stakeholders. Emphasize the value proposition of APM, including how it can enhance the overall performance of the organization. Collaborate closely and proactively with the corporate IT department to find feasible solutions for integrating APM with the existing CMMS, ensuring minimal disruption to corporate operations. 

   In contrast, if the situation is reversed, where the corporate entity is eager to deploy APM software but faces resistance from certain plants, a different set of challenges emerges. People often resist changes imposed upon them, especially if they don’t perceive immediate benefits. In such cases, forcing the APM solution on unwilling plants through corporate authority is not advisable. 

   Instead, a more effective approach is to initiate APM deployment in the plants that are enthusiastic about adopting the technology. This allows them to experience the benefits firsthand and serves as a persuasive case study for reluctant plants. Ultimately, successful alignment between corporate and plant interests is essential for a smooth APM software deployment process. 

6. Maintenance Plan Misalignment: Addressing Structural and Data Issues   

Perhaps the most critical challenge is the misalignment of the existing maintenance plan with the APM software’s structure, along with errors, omissions, and incomplete data. Adapting the maintenance plan or rectifying data issues can lead to significant delays and costs.  

   To tackle this challenge effectively, organizations should collaborate closely with the deploying company. They should extract samples of the maintenance plan and present them for evaluation and estimation of the actual workload necessary. This step should be done at the beginning of the project. This collaborative approach can lead to a more accurate assessment of the required adjustments. 

Data collection on equipment prior to APM delployment

Conclusion: Preparing for Success in APM Software Deployment

In summary, deploying APM software is not a quick and simple undertaking. It demands careful planning, realistic expectations, effective communication, and collaboration between the client and deploying company.

By acknowledging the need for client resource hours, budgeting appropriately, and addressing technology adoption and corporate alignment issues, organizations can navigate the challenges effectively. 

Moreover, addressing the critical issue of maintenance plan misalignment through proper estimation and collaboration with experienced deploying companies is essential.

APM software deployment, while not without its challenges, can be a transformative process, enhancing plant efficiency and performance when executed with diligence and foresight. 

Deploying Asset Performance Management (APM) software in industrial maintenance presents six significant challenges: Employee Resistance: While concerns about resistance to change exist, they are often overstated. Open dialogue, training, and tangible results can mitigate this challenge. Unrealistic Timelines and Resource Expectations: Successful deployment requires collaboration and communication between the client and the APM vendor. Realistic expectations and recognizing the iterative nature of deployment are crucial. Budget Concerns: Inadequate planning for client resource hours and maintenance plan adjustments can lead to budget issues. Thorough cost assessments and transparent cost structures are key to budget adherence. Technology Adoption: Varying levels of tech adoption among users require tailored training. Effective training and peer support can expedite the learning process. Corporate Alignment: Misalignment between plant and corporate entities can be a significant hurdle. Integrating APM with existing systems and open dialogue are essential for alignment. Maintenance Plan Misalignment: Adapting existing maintenance plans to fit APM software can lead to delays and costs. Collaborating with deploying companies for an accurate assessment is crucial. In conclusion, deploying APM software demands careful planning, realistic expectations, effective communication, and collaboration. Addressing these challenges can lead to transformative improvements in plant efficiency and performance. 

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