How to Improve MRO Supply Management with ERM

Like their counterparts in IT, those who work in facilities management or MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) can improve service delivery time, reduce manual request processing efforts (and associated costs), and improve the user experience by enabling simple user self-service. Many such operations today, however, are either still using non-automated (i.e., email- or paper-based) processes or cumbersome online forms via departmental or ERP systems.

MRO supply request management with ERMThat creates a less-than-ideal situation for both the providers and users of facilities and maintenance services. Users are frustrated by time-consuming and confusing request processes, while the facilities/MRO groups are forced to spend time manually dealing with incomplete or inaccurate service requests, which also slows response time and increases costs.

The answer is an enterprise request management (ERM) implementation, which enables employees to request any type of service, from any internal services group, using a single intuitive portal. Users benefit from the speed and simplicity of the portal, while service-providing groups get more accurate requests and can automate approval and other tasks, saving money and accelerating fulfillment.

As noted here previously, ERM implementations often (not always, but often) start with IT groups. Once IT publishes its services (password resets, printer repair, BYOD device registration, access to applications or cloud computing resources, etc.) in an easy-to-use online service catalog, other departments start asking how they can present their services through that portal as well. The IT service catalog gradually expands across other departments—HR, facilities/MRO, finance, and others—becoming a true business or enterprise service catalog through the ERM approach.

ERM tools are designed to enable business process owners in any department to create, test, optimize and deploy their own service offerings to the request portal, with minimal IT assistance. Here are seven key benefits for facilities / MRO groups in embracing ERM:

  • An ERM portal is more intuitive and user-friendly than maintenance modules typically included with ERP systems or forms produced in maintenance management systems. This leads to increased user satisfaction, decreased time required to submit requests, and improved request accuracy and completeness.
  • ERM portals make it easy to check on the status of pending requests at any time, eliminating the need for calls or emails to “see where things are at” as well as virtually eliminating duplicate requests.
  • Routing accuracy is increased, which reduces confusion, delays, and manual back-end fulfillment efforts. For a properly configured portal, routing accuracy is typically 98-99%.
  • In an ERM implementation, users have one centralized portal for requesting any type of service or resource, from any internal group: IT, facilities/MRO, HR, logisitics, finance, etc. Employees no longer have to guess which system or process to use for which types of requests, and the simple interface means there’s no training required.
  • Centralizing and simplifying requests also increases the use of online self-service while reducing phone calls. Shifting requests from the phone to online self service saves, on average, $22 per incident according to Gartner. So, for example, in a large organization that manages 40,000 facilities/MRO requests per year, shifting even 40% of those (16,000) from the phone to a web portal would reduce service management costs by more than $350,000.
  • ERM automates approval and scheduling processes, saving time while reducing manual efforts and their related costs.
  • Finally, ERM enables requests to be categorized and prioritized at submission, with maintenance staff notified immediately when a new service request has been entered. Coupled with back-end process automation, this significantly reduces fulfillment time and increases productivity.

Crucially, achieving these benefits doesn’t require a costly and disruptive replacement of an organization’s existing facilities and maintenance management systems—the software its maintenance pros are familiar with. Rather, in an ERM approach, facilities and maintenance process owners would build out their “service items” using portal software common across all enterprise service delivery groups, but which is designed to integrate with and leverage in-place enterprise and departmental management and control applications.

Employees get a simplified and improved request experience. The business benefits from reduced service delivery costs plus faster and more accurate fulfillment. And the professionals delivering the services—whether in faciliites/MRO, IT, or other functions—spend less time manually managing requests, and can build out their services incrementally while leveraging familiar management systems.

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