How to Get Front Line Buy In By: Matthew Curtis

“Jacob looked at Shane. Well, he thought, this is going to be interesting. Head office is going to spend all this money implementing a new Maximo version, when we already have one… The one we have now works fine, it’s the people that are the issue, no one but you and I care to use it, no one understands how to put information into the system to get good information out of it. Why don’t they spend all that money teaching people the importance of good asset management?”

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So often the decision to implement a new CMMS such as Maximo is made at the corporate head office, and sales people promoting the value stream propositions on how your business is going to be revolutionized. Seldom is there much consideration or consultation with field operations. There are many reasons for implementing a new CMMS: application consolidation, cross business function reporting requirements, reduced application maintenance fees, all of which are good reasons on their own. However, those reasons don’t consider the largest, most influential impact to your business, the front-line worker. The front-line worker is really the one who decides if a new tool is going to transform your business and allow you the gains in which the polished salesman assured you.

There are two sides to a successful implementation of Maximo, the technical side and then there is the frontline worker side. Too often overall success is claimed on a technical implementation.

A lot of time, energy and money goes into implementing a solution of this nature. There are kick off meetings to get everyone engaged, there are workshops held to get everyone’s feedback, there are process maps developed – As Is Process; To Be Process, all of which are good and necessary. However, it’s really just documenting everything that wasn’t working from before. Consider this: you take the same people with the same knowledge and we get them to tell us the same information on how they do their day to day activities. Then we map that over from the red button to the green button and call it a day.

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Maybe it’s time to rethink how we claim success on an implementation of a solution such as Maximo. Maybe we need to rethink how we start these projects off and focus more on the people. After all, people are what drives a successful business.

What I have found, is that when we consult with leaders in an organization, head office and field office leaders, they all have an idea of “what good looks like”. Which is great – the problem is that all those ideas of “good” range from slightly different to drastically different. Not often are two or more ideas of “good” the same.

I watched for years as one organization struggled in trying to gain some sort of alignment on what “good” looks like. There were many field sites, all using Maximo in slightly different ways, all marginally effective and all debating with each other as to why their version of the backlog report was better.
So, what’s the right way to implement this million-dollar system to get the results you’ve been solicited? I don’t know. There are some things you may want to try though.

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One thing that I did to gain traction on getting results and you can try as well, is to level the playing field on “what good looks like”. Have an asset management expert come and talk to your organization, your executive and your frontline leaders. The discussion should be around “what good asset management looks like to any organization.” This will set some baselines of what a good asset management system allows an organization to do, what it lets your organization manage more effectively, and how it can impact the organization’s bottom line.

What typically gets most people to the table is how the organization is going to make more money. Define what more money for the company translates to for everyone in the organization. Saving money is good too, but sometimes if you’re not saving enough for each individual’s personal threshold of caring, it doesn’t make the cut for them to change.

Once the executive and the front-line leaders have an understanding of what “good” looks like for any organization, then it’s time for the sponsor – typically an Operations VP, someone who is accountable and has a vested interest in the success of the project – to sit down with the front-line leaders and identify what is important to the business and their reports. This will start to outline what some of your performance indicators are going to be in the future. This needs to be a rich conversation and everyone needs to get on board and commit to making a change for the better, acknowledging it’s going to be different and potentially not easy but obtainable if people try. Utilizing the “we can if…” terminology and attitude as opposed to the “we can’t because” terminology and attitude will increase the success of your sessions.

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Once the front-line leaders have a good understanding and commitment to the objectives of the new CMMS, then it is time for the leaders to start to communicate with the front-line workers. It will be wise for the front-line leaders to have materials created beforehand that are succinct and aligned with other leaders materials. This way, they are able to articulate why the changes to come are important to the organization and some reasoning as to why the changes are important to the front-line worker as well. In order for the change to be successful, there needs to be a commitment for management and more importantly a commitment for the front-line worker. As stated before, the front-line worker is the one who decides whether your implementation of Maximo will be successful for the organization or not.


“Matthew Curtis is a senior Enterprise Asset Managment professional that has been working with oil and gas organizations for the past 14 years. Working with organizations from large international companies to medium Canadian based businesses. Matthew has filled consultant and employee leadership roles, focusing on creating and executing strategic plans to enable short term, practical results while keeping the future goals of the orgnaization in mind. Matthew takes pride being able to drive success in the field to deliver results in the board room.”

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