Bridging the gap across the seam
Kevin Buonagurio 270003RYYG firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  software eam ibmsoftware ibmontwitter service-management assetmgmt supply-chain-management tivoli asset-management maximo scm ibmeam
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The title of this blog is a tongue in cheek amalgamation of two terms that have come up a lot in the last couple of years with respect to supply chain management, and is the 2nd blog in our series on supply chain management.
The first is 'bridging the gap'. This is a common euphemism for a lot of topics, but in this case I'm referring to bridging the gap between direct and indirect supply chain processes.
Historically, direct supply chain refers to the processes and procedures for procuring goods related to the production of finished products. Conversely, indirect supply chain refers to the procurement processes related to maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) goods.
The concepts identified by direct and indirect supply chain long pre-date the advent of computerized inventory and procurement systems. Back in the ‘paper days’ the delineation was necessary. Procurement was a laborious and manual process, and there were many physical differences in how the two were carried out including the manpower used to perform them.
Fast forward to 2011 and the gap between the two is not nearly as clear. Inventory and purchasing computer systems specifically geared towards direct or indirect supply chain are shying away from making specific claims about what the system is designed for. Take Maximo for example. The leading product in the Enterprise Asset Management space has long contained functionality to support a customer’s MRO procurement requirements. In the past decade, our customers are using the product for new and varied business requirements that were not originally intended. Add in a host of specific functionality for various industry solutions and you can start to see the line between direct and indirect blurring further. At this point I will stop short of calling Maximo a production system, but the debate is insightful.
The second term I merged into the title is referring to a topic that has come up regularly in meetings of the Maximo Supply Chain User Group (MSCUG), and that is the question of ‘where to draw the seam?’
The ‘seam’ refers to the imaginary boundary between processes done in a maintenance system and those done in an ERP system. Advances in integration technology have allowed users to implement a myriad of integration scenarios. There is no single solution that works for every implementation. At the end of the day what matters most is to start on paper, and not in the technology of your integration. What are the requirements that need to be met? Who are the stakeholders? What roles will be accessing what information and when? What does their daily work consist of? These are just some of the questions that need to be answered before any solution should be architected.
This blog is specifically designed to raise more questions then it answers. The ‘gap across the seam’ is different for everyone’s implementation. If I’ve made some of my readers at least a bit anxious about some questions they had not approached then I have succeeded, because now I’d like to offer up the assistance you will need to tackle this. I’m not asking you to approach IBM about us designing out your solution (although we do that very well). I’m asking you to consider attending a meeting of the MSCUG at the next Maximo Utility Working Group meeting to be held in November (more info at the MUWG website, click here), and also attend the next MSCUG webinar: "Overview of Maximo Contracts and how Oglethorpe Power Re-engineered their Service Contracts with Maximo" This will be held on August 9th, 2011 at 11AM Eastern time. More info can be found by clicking here. As Mary Gorczynski pointed out in her introduction to this series of blogs discussing supply chain management, (Link here) the MSCUG enables you to network with peers encountering the same challenges with supply chain management.
Stay tuned for our next blog in this series, which will come from one of the Maximo clients who is a member of MSCUG, later this year. In the mean time if you have any questions/comments regarding Maximo’s supply chain functionality, please comment on this blog.