Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Many little things add up to a big thing.

We at MEX are having an interesting year in making changes in MEX and FleetMEX, making it better for all our users.

None of these things are enormous.  They are little things that our users want changed or made better.  And we have been slowly implementing them to make our products do what customers want MEX to do.   And we are starting to notice that all of these little things make up a bigger thing that can work so much better.

Some of the changes, with some having already been done and released, include:

·         Quick edit.  This allows for the fast editing of work orders if there are a lot.  This has already been added and is available in

·         Fast print.   Where a very fast method of printing a work order, purchase order or invoice can occur.

·         Test and tag.  At the user conference this year we discussed and even designed something around this and hope to have it in MEX.

·         On line ticketing.  A ticketing system for all customers to track there bugs, issues and requests.   Again, partially designed at the user conference.

·         New reports.  Have added a few in this year already but have more coming.

·         Photos and videos.  Greater use in the requesting and work orders.

·         On line catalogues.  Creating a way for any user to link on line catalogues into the MEX catalogue.

·         Security.  A new lot of standardised security groups.  In process now and should be released soon.

All of these little things add up to simplicity and efficiency in using our products.

And if you have any ideas on further things to do, then contact me and lets discuss little things that add up to big things.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Steve's Serious Maintenance Tips for 2012

According to the Mayan calendar, the 21st of December 2012 is the date it all comes to an end.  So before our world crumbles, I feel that it’s a good time to think about what myself, and other maintenance professionals should be doing in their last year on Earth.

First up, I wouldn’t prepare any notes about my equipment, explaining what they actually do, where they are, and how much has been spent on them.  I definitely wouldn’t keep track of breakdowns, issues, maintenance, wear, or even tear!

As far as shutdown planning goes, I wouldn’t organise parts, labour or time estimates, especially around tax time.  All I would do, is find a nice comfy couch where I can put my feet up.

If someone asks me to do something this year, I’ll smile and nod (to keep them happy).  But obviously I’ll have no intention of completing their request.  I just want to keep up appearances until December.  Surely there couldn’t be any harm in that?

I think I’ll also start promising my staff great pay rises for 2013, along with a handsome Christmas bonus!  Of course I’ll still need them to work hard throughout the year, and if they do I will guarantee great wealth and prosperity in 2013!  The best part is… there probably won’t be any repercussions for me!

However, there is one caution I must provide you with if you do follow my maintenance tips for 2012.  If those Mayans are wrong, and this whole end of world thing turns out to be a big lie, then you better have a damn good resignation letter ready for December 22nd.  

Monday, 5 December 2011

Steve Ninnes’ Maintenance Industry Predictions for 2012

2011 has been a turbulent year for Planet Earth.  Consumers and businesses have felt a renewed anxiety following new and unstable financial situations, both at home and abroad. 

Despite all of this, technology has continued to steamroll forward.  One example is the iPad and how it has shown itself to be a triumphant business tool in many industries, including the maintenance and facilities sectors.

Computerised Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) are now available on a multitude of devices including; computers, laptops, Windows phones, to Apple iPhones, iPads and iPods.

Over the next 12 months we will see CMMSs continue their move to mobile.  Greater functionality and usability in mobile devices will be key demands, with automatic connection to servers, scanning abilities and greater connectivity being the crucial features.

Following the shift to mobile, there will be a move for our desktop software to become cloud-based.  Maintenance professionals will demand the same flexibility and ease-of-access in their desktop system as their mobile application.  These web and browser-based systems will allow customers to interact much more closely with their system and the people who built it, on any computer.

As devices and systems become more mobile, so will the demands of the workforce.  The engineering industry is currently experiencing a skills shortage, which limits their capacity to hire and train local apprentices.  This requires firms to source cheaper skilled workers from overseas.  Companies will need to become more multilingual, as will the systems they use.

A wildcard prediction for 2012 is a push for ‘gamification’ of management and maintenance systems. 

Gamification is the use of game design techniques to engage audiences.  Typically, gamification applies to non-game applications and programs to encourage people to adopt them.  The technique can encourage people to perform chores they would normally consider boring, by showing them a path to mastery and autonomy, and by taking advantage of a human’s psychological predisposition to engage in gaming.

In terms of gamification’s relevance to the maintenance industry, we may see systems emerge, promising increased attentiveness and more measurable results for both maintenance and actual staff management.
However I think consumers should be wary.  Staff may become more involved with the system, but may end up trying to beat the game, rather than actually concentrating on the maintenance and safety aspects of their job.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Part 4: What should be on the CEO/CIO checklist when it comes to outlining the business outcomes these systems should deliver?

When looking at an ERP, ensure web integration is included, what elements can be shared or what are shared as part of the package. 

The points to look for are:

  • Can the ERP communicate with the company website.
  • Can social media feeds be built into the ERP.
  • Can the ERP post directly to the social media.
  • Can consumers log into the web system and deal directly with the company.

Future proofing?
Can the system evolve as needs of the interaction-age change?  What is the next equivalent of Facebook, and how possible is it for the ERP to adapt to these new technologies?

Part 3: What are these customer systems like, compared to five years ago?

ERP systems are becoming increasingly interactive; a consumer can now directly place an order for a product through the system.  Very soon, a customer will simply talk about a product or problem and it will be supplied or fixed.

The input of the consumer is growing rapidly, it is very likely that consumers will soon influence management decisions much more directly.  In order for management to make these decisions, suppliers will need to view data from all information sources.  This data will be displayed, reported on and analysed, to ensure management and the suppliers are making the right decisions. 

The consumers are almost getting inside the suppliers systems to help foster better decision making.

Part 2: What does this do to customer data? It can no longer live in silos, so how can it be integrated to give a single customer view?

Customer data will continue still survive in its own domain, however, much more data will be stored to retain the link these entities have. 

The main task ERP systems will need to achieve is to correlate data from social media sites with data inside the ERP.  The outcome is; much more data needs to be related. 

Some form of reference must be kept.  A record must be created in the ERP to aid in data retention and accounts.  The use of Application Process Interfaces (API) to communicate with social media platforms will become paramount.

This does not mean that the data will be stored any differently.  However, it will require additional space, increased volumes and links to external sources that were not even in existence 10 years ago. 

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Part 1: How has enterprise software evolved to manage complex customer service environments? (ie, phone, telepresence, social media etc)

One of the biggest challenges Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems face today is keeping up-to-date with the multitude of communication channels used by consumers.  Social media is especially topical at present as businesses rush to utilise the mediums word-of-mouth capabilities.

Over 10 years ago, Business to Business (B2B) deals began to dominate the world of ERPs.  During this phase it became apparent B2B transfer between different ERPs would become the typical model.  Efficiency and cost saving was the name of the game and multiple stakeholders got involved and created ERP software allowing this to happen.  

As the use of the internet became more widespread, a more direct Business to Consumer  (B2C) approach became the norm in ERP’s.  As consumers started doing their banking, ordering groceries and purchasing services online, the need to integrate these elements into an ERP system became important.  The ability to manage the flow of products, deliveries and billing – direct from the consumer – caused a secondary shift.

Today, a new change is occurring.  Over the past four years, the use of social media as a communication tool for business has grown exponentially.   Which - you guessed it - has created a new avenue for ERPs to discover and explore.   

Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and others are specialised, targeted communication mediums which are a direct, visible channel to speak with consumers.   

Consumers currently have the ability to interact with ERP systems.   However, social media provides a greater level of interaction.  ERP systems will need to integrate social media into their framework to continue to be competitive.

Integration can come in the form of:

  • Data collected from consumers through their social media accounts
  • Data going out to consumers through our social media accounts
  • The level at which social media will be utilised within the ERP system  

In simple terms, social media is bringing interaction with the consumer to all parts of the decision making process and at a much faster rate than previously seen.

Consumers want results now.  They expect a company will answer their questions/concerns in the next 24 minutes, not 24 hours. 

Products will be evaluated and reviewed in hours instead of days or weeks.
If a product does not deliver, disgruntled customers can quickly and easily let their negative word of mouth spread.  This is where companies need to be on the ball, effective management of unhappy customers can actually build a better relationship than if nothing bad had happened at all.

An example of ERP integration could be as follows.  A consumer inquires about a product on a social media site.  This could be picked up by the ERP as a potential request/work order/purchase order etc.  A company representative then jumps on and responds to the inquiry, which in turn is viewed by other potential consumers.  And before you know it the effect of social media multiplies the simple management through the ERP system.

This is the next generation ERP system, it is a system that can track and monitor consumer enquiries, raise work and purchase orders, give feedback and join conversations.  It is a system that has evolved to meet consumers’ needs in the past, and will continue to do so in the future.

As you can see, the changes to ERPs will be significant, the use of the ERP is now going to utilise a two way street of input and interaction, directly with the end user.