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Taking Back Control of Your MRO Data Management

Businesses run on information! The more accurate, timely and credible that information is, the easier it will be for the organization to be successful.

In most organizations, information is  spread across systems that support different functions—accounting, purchasing, manufacturing, engineering, maintenance operations, sales and marketing, and distribution to name a few.

Historically, the way differing systems treat the same data elements—customer name and numbers, part numbers, etc.—has been a serious hindrance to delivering quality information across the enterprise. This resulted in problems such as duplicate, out-of-date and inaccurate data, confusion as to which system should be the control point for which data element, and the inability to reconcile information across systems.

Enter Master Data Management!

Master Data Management: What is it, why’s it good?

Master Data Management (MDM) is the way that organizations ensure that they have a unified, consistent view of their critical data—a single reference point used by each of their systems.  The promise of MDM is that:

  • Cross-system interfaces are easier to build and maintain, and that
  • Reporting and analytics are more consistent and credible for customer service and decision making.

MDM is an ongoing process—not a one-time project.  It comprises enterprise level policies, processes and tools to define and manage the organization’s critical data in a single “master file”.  The intent of MDM is to ensure that data can be shared easily and consistently between all appropriate personnel and departments.

Of course, no enterprise exists in a vacuum and neither can MDM.  Any definition of master data must take into account the needs of external organizations—suppliers, customers, channel partners, etc.  In many cases, there has been progress guided by external forces—trade organizations, regulatory bodies, and consumer ‘super powers’, etc.  The Universal Product Code (UPC) is just one example of a singular data definition.

What Does MDM Mean For MRO?

Unfortunately for many, Maintenance, Repair, and Operations (MRO) has received very little attention when it comes to data management.  Since there are few common standards to use, you are at the mercy of your distributor as the “gatekeeper” of your MRO data definitions.
Only your chosen distributor knows:

  1. The identity of the material your organization relies on to maintain your critical assets;
  2. The source and quality of the product you are using;
  3. The cost of the material; and
  4. The cross-reference of available material to replace the product supplied.

While your distributor is probably a trusted and reliable business partner, your MDM needs are surely low on their list of priorities.
You need to take control of your own MRO master data definitions, if you are to ensure that the data usage requirements of all your departments are met.  Only in this way can you reach your goals for better customer service, fewer maverick stockpiles of inventory, and increased classification accuracy—ultimately leading to a reduced cost of doing business.

Taking Control of MRO Master Data

So who replaces the distributor as the gatekeeper for your MRO master data definition?

Experience shows that MDM for MRO must have two owners: Maintenance Operations, and Procurement.  The rationale is that maintenance and reliability needs are different from—but of equal importance to—the requirements of procurement.  Also, although technology can be used to automate many of the manual tasks in creating a master data catalogue, it’s not appropriate that the overall process be owned by your IT or ERP group.
So Maintenance Operations and Procurement must come together—with relevant tools and domain expertise—to ensure the uniformity, accuracy, and consistency of shared master data to optimize supply and minimize risk.

How to Get There

Remember that there is no single accepted solution or set of standards for master data management for MRO.  So you need to define your goals clearly.  This is important, because you will probably use a partner who has the specialized tools to handle data cleansing.  They’ll be ready to assist you, but you’ll need to tell them exactly what you’re trying to accomplish—and what success looks like to you!
You’ll need to look at your goals from five dimensions:

  • Sourcing,
  • Validation,
  • Taxonomy,
  • Category and
  • Duplicate Resolution.

Now, sourcing may seem to be an unusual item for data cleaning and enhancement.  But experience shows that the ability to efficiently source and acquire MRO components will be the true measure of MDM success.  Too many times we have seen MDM projects, where the focus has been on the ability to find and manage MRO inventories, with little attention on the ability to procure.  This ‘oversight’ is only exposed when a critical component is required, and we come to find that the item is no longer available or obsolete!

It’s an Ongoing Journey

You should consider MDM for MRO to be part of an ongoing, defined process—with standards and workflows—to ensure that the data requirements of all interested parties are served.  Your process should contain the necessary quality controls to ensure that no shortcuts are taken to serve one stakeholder to the detriment of others.

This is NOT a one-time cleanup to be handled by a third party, without direction.  MDM for MRO is an ongoing methodology, with clear internal definition of the needs, rules, and requirements that define success, and the participation of all stakeholders.
If you adhere to this guidance, then you will be able to regain control of MRO, no longer being held hostage by its data, and you can achieve your objectives for MRO savings.

How SDI Can Help

As a Supply Chain As-a-Service provider, we have helped numerous clients regain control of their own MRO master data destiny!  They have typically come to us experiencing one or more of the following situations:

  • Multiple versions of same master data,
  • Lack of workflows,
  • Poor data quality,
  • Inconsistent classification,
  • Duplications,
  • Incomplete/inaccurate information,
  • Free-text MRO item descriptions,
  • Lack of, or poor, taxonomy.

Do any of these sound familiar?

More than Just Data Cleansing

It’s our experience that the biggest challenges will arise from the stewardship of data. This means the focus is typically on standards rather than use—leading to poor customer service, maverick inventories, inaccurate classification, and ultimately, a higher cost of doing business.
SDI can be the trusted advisor to coordinate MDM efforts between your Maintenance, Operations and Procurement and ensure a unified view of your enterprise data that is consistent with all stakeholder requirements.

As-a-service, SDI can cleanse your data and prepare it for upload into your systems. Or, as part of a customized solution, we can implement it to improve other aspects of your MRO supply chain. We can also help utilize data for identifying parts that are repairable, and facilitating the repair process and related logistics.

What Benefits Should You Expect? 

Based on our experience with data management for MRO programs, you should see benefits across your entire MRO process.  In addition to clarity, leverage, compliance and savings, a coordinated MDM program will result in reliable, efficient, safe and sustainable assets and throughput.
As specific examples, clean master data programs have delivered the following levels of benefit to SDI clients:

  • Improved uptime: 5-8%
  • Reduced inventory: 20-30%
  • Reduced parts costs: 8-15%

Master Data Assessment

So what benefits should you expect?  We’ll know better once we’ve talked to you and taken a look at your data.  With our Master Data Assessment, we can undertake a fine-tooth-comb audit to determine the completeness and accuracy of your data.

You can request a Master Data Assessment on our web site.  Let's discuss taking a deep dive into your data, so we can see how much opportunity you have for improvement.  Once we know that, you can decide how to proceed! 

Next Steps: It’s Your Decision

You can manage as much of the MDM process as is right for your MRO supply chain. SDI can handle MDM as-a-service, or as part of an enterprise solution. It’s your data. So it’s your choice. 

Contact us today for a Master Data Assessment and take your first steps to retake control of your MRO data management.

Success Story

SDI is an MRO integrator and partner that really helps drive categorization and a best practice approach.

SDI at Work

In the third post in this series on MRO As-a-Service by Spend Matters, Pierre Mitchell and Michael Lamoureux talk about how managing MRO as a process delivers benefits from efficiency to effectiveness and beyond to an evolutionary phase. The next generation of value, MRO-as-a-Service, helps organizations build intelligent, agile, scalable and integrated supply chains (direct and indirect).

The project team has worked its way through Define, Measure, Analyze, and Improve. It’s time to begin the Control phase. The key stakeholders gather to evaluate the solution as implemented and create a plan to sustain the improvements. The goal is to standardize the improved processes, establish an audit schedule and schedule periodic follow-up to identify additional opportunities for improvement.