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Planning for EAM Application Consolidation Program

Early millennium saw a burst in various IT applications addressing the needs of Enterprise Asset Management. Over the period it became a strategic application for asset intensive sectors like utilities, oil and gas, transportation etc. However back then, both IT infrastructure and the products were in nascent stage. Typical approach was to have a standalone environments for every site or business unit. Product offered limited functionality and usually there was a small local IT team to support the application. Over the decade IT infrastructure has evolved and so has the product capability. Keeping number of data centers limited and having centralize EAM solutions seems to be a natural choice now. Organizations with multiple standalone installations of EAM solutions are at the point of infliction and consolidations of these standalone instances is proving to be a logical path ahead.

Now that organizations are gearing up for the consolidation the major concern of the stakeholders is to achieve the targeted benefits and planning plays a crucial role in this journey. In this blog I am going to focus on various stages of planning for any EAM consolidation program.

There can be multiple reasons to consolidate. The most common are:

  • EAM products have matured and offer capability to provide harmonized solutions with site / business specific flavors
  • IT infrastructure have evolved and offer strong hardware platform as well as network connectivity
  • Central IT teams reduces operational overheads and provide better performance and data warehousing capabilities
  • Increase in operational efficiency of managing application
  • Consolidated versions offer scalability and ease of upgrade to future versions
  • End of life of existing applications

Whatever the reasons for the consolidation are, the first step is to plan. The complete planning process for the application consolidation can be divided into following:

A.Strategic Level (6 to 12 months planning horizon)

a. Vision: There needs to be a unified vision from IT and business side to go for the consolidation. Even though consolidation is beneficial for both, it may or may not be a mature idea for them at the same time. Efforts needs to be put in from leadership to bring these units together strategically so that consolidation can be planned well. Business benefits needed from the program should be planned ahead and strategic buy-in from all stakeholders should be achieved.

b. Partners: It is important to plan for internal and external partners in this journey. The journey is long and it is crucial to identify skillset needed at every stage. Plan needs to be prepared for orchestration of partners so that they bring in capabilities at right time and deliver what is expected.

c. Team: Core teams needs to be formed at this stage that can steer the program across various milestones

B. Tactical Level (3 to 6 months planning horizon)

a. Process harmonization: Consolidation can be achieved either by complete process harmonization or keeping the process decentralized or hybrid approach i.e. core process harmonization with local flavors. There is no specific formula for consolidation and depending upon the business goals that needs to be achieved, the core team needs to plan for the approach for consolidation. 

b. Consolidation approach: Whether to go ahead with big bang or sequentially go-lives needs to be planned during this stage. There are pros and cons associated with both and depending on the risks associated with it the team needs to come up with a road map.

c. Change Management:  With consolidation, the process may get harmonized across various sites. Planning for change management is very crucial so that there are no expectations mismatch when the consolidated environment goes live.

C. Operational Level (0 to 3 months planning horizon)

a. Operations team planning: Team should be planned and should typically comprise business owners for each functions, IT team members and program and project managers.

b. Project planning: Once set rolling, project planning needs to be prepared that should include, but not be limited to - requirement gathering, analysis, design, build, test, deploy and train. 

c. Infrastructure planning: Based on the strategic planning and benefits defined, the Infrastructure needs to be planned. The availability of IT infrastructure should be scheduled in such a way that there are no delays in the overall program

d. Support planning: Before the sites starts going live, the support planning should be completed. A dedicated team outside the project team should be planned in advance.

To sum it up, asset intensive organizations with multiple EAM application landscape are on the verge of initiating consolidation program. Planning forms the first step of any EAM consolidation program and it spans across the duration. Depending upon the lifecycle stage of the program, the planning requirements changes and success of the overall program depends on how well the plan has been prepared and followed at strategic, tactical and operational level. 

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