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Greater than the sum of its parts

Tim Alden, Commercial Director at Rusada talks to Ian Harbison about how the MRO industry is slowly beginning to realise that it sits on lots of useful data that its ERP systems may not be allowing it to access

With commercial pressures having increased in the last few years, especially customers driving down margins and the need to make the best use of employees, many MROs have come to realise that their ERP systems are a good way of amassing huge amounts of data that can be applied to improve the effectiveness of their business processes and procedures.


However, it is remarkable that it is still quite common to find companies using such a system and backing it up with manually prepared spreadsheets. The time taken to compile the spreadsheet is such that the situation will have changed by the time it is completed and it cannot be used to analyse the business across several months.


Moreover, the data now becomes someone’s interpretation of events rather than the source facts and figures. Part of the reason for this is simply because many MROs made it a priority that a system would raise work orders and generate job cards to process work through the facility, but then don’t analyse the performance of that business apart from the overall profit and loss against a job that has already been completed. Real-time analysis is now being employed to prevent profit turning to loss.


Tim Alden, Commercial Director at software provider Rusada, says that airlines have been extracting data for a long time, but MROs have understandably had a tendency to focus on delivering aircraft on time rather than on how they can do better business by analysing performance to date. A normal day in business can accumulate an exceptionally large amount of useful data – but making sense of that data without employing data analysts is a challenge. The time when a service centre manager can have three simple screens that tell them current performance and recent history, project forward plans and allow to drill down to the detail of an exception is here, and very achievable.


That situation is now changing for a number of reasons. The maintenance department can often be mandated by the finance department to use the same system, often SAP, but the toolbox provided may not be best suited to the operation. Also, the implementation time and the integration of different databases may be lengthy and increasingly complex. It is all well and good, he says, to have eight ‘best of breed’ systems but they have to be able to operate with each other seamlessly.


As a result, Alden is finding that potential customers are increasingly looking for a simple, straightforward system, but one that can capture that vital business data. This has also changed the relationship between customer and software house, he adds. Instead of just looking for a product supplier, there is a need to examine the company’s pedigree, skill level and likelihood of staying in business for the long term. Once that has been established, the next steps are taken very much as a partnership rather than a one-off deal. Scoping is vital to the success of projects and directly contributes to short implementation times.

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