End-users discuss IT management and decentralisation

“Organisations need to establish benchmarking techniques that track and facilitate maintenance processes across assets, inventory and other resources and the changing organisational environment demands a paradigm shift from reactive maintenance processes to proactive, preventive forms of maintaining assets and inventory,” said Vishal Shah- strategic portfolio analyst at Ford Motor Company addressing an audience of over 400 top ranking officials representing a multitude of industries from across the GCC gathered at the Maximo Middle East User Group conference 2011.

The conference, which takes place in Dubai between the 5th and the 7th of this month, brought together end-users from across the GCC to discuss asset management,  IT’s role in the same and to share best practices from the region.

Speakers and end-users gathered at the conference agreed that growth and development in the GCC has lead to a greater understanding at executive levels of the need to implement benchmarked and standardised processes to track and manage an organisation’s assets and inventory, and gain better knowledge of asset life cycles.  According to them, large organisations in the region are actively working on restructuring their maintenance processes to become more predictive, as opposed to a reactive operation, and are working to establish accountability for asset and inventory maintenance processes.

Organisational representatives attending the event stated that the changing organisational structure  now places IT on the planning and strategy mantle as opposed to a simple support service.  As organisations witness CFOs and CEOs being more committed to IT requirements and needs, they are also fast realising that IT personnel are capable of making independent decisions in the areas of operations, work flows and maintenance processes in addition to back end IT functionality.Voicing these opinions, Mustafa Aziz, senior application specialist at Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) said, “Business processes for utilities provision and asset management are closely aligned with IT strategy – what we at ADWEA call ‘power IT’. IT is not a support function but a back-bone of strategic decision making. As IT personnel get more skilled, they get more adept at making intelligent estimates, and these estimates become the basis for independent decision makers across all levels of an organisation.”

“We use Maximo at ADWEA, since it is aligned with our strategy and allows us to achieve operational excellence by supporting end-to-end asset management processes. Robust application of Tivoli asset management software within our organisation has resulted in better management of labour and payment contracts, track utility usage, drive down costs and wastage,” added Aziz

Heavy user resistance to new software and IT changes within organisations was stated as one of the major challenges faced by CIOs in the region. However, the adoption of a decentralised structure – where branch operations are allowed autonomy to make crucial decisions – was suggested by some as an effective way of executing changes while inviting less resistance.

According to many in the audience,  a decentralised environment encourages employees to make intelligent impromptu decisions when faced with emergencies in addition to reducing the uptime on change and implementation of best practices across an organisation’s structure. The benefits of better communication and coordination across all business units and rapid innovations call for a change in centralised structures.

“We are a customer driven organisation looking to maximise the value a customer receives from our services. This demands that our technicians who largely operate in the field are the given the freedom to access, manage and edit inventories, asset locations, availability and barcodes , even their work orders and tasks when faced with an emergency scenario. Maximo is integrated within our computer maintenance management system to allow our technicians to use their PDAs in the field to operate efficiently at the same time, tracking and recording any changes made,” said Omar Rawshdeh, senior IT manager at Etisalat.

The conference was hosted by eSolutions, a provider of IBM’s Maximo solution. Some of the largest organisations in the region were seen at the event, including representatives from Abu Dhabi Gas Industries Ltd. (GASCO), Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority (ADWEA), CiM Maintenance Inc, DP World, Dubai Airports, Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA), EFM, Emaar, Emirates General Petroleum Corp (Emarat), Ford Motor Company, GARTNER, GISTEC, Haya Water – Oman, IBM, IVARA Corporation, King Saud University (KSU), Kuwait National Petroleum Co. (KNPC), Kuwait Oil Company (KOC), MCP Consulting & Training, MOTOROLA Solutions, Muscat Electricity Distribution Company , Oman Refineries and Petrochemicals Company (ORPC), Royal Saudi Air Defense (RSADF), UTOPIA, Wataniya Telecom and Middle East Facility Management Association (MEFMA) among others.

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