We need to talk about total cost of ownership. Specifically, about total cost of ownership for enterprise asset maintenance and management (EAM) software.
Your EAM system is clunky, aged, difficult to use and does not integrate with new technology.
But when you look into how much it costs to upgrade, you lose heart thinking about the arduous financial approval process so you settle for workarounds and continue using it for yet another year.
Industry best practice or new regulation has been introduced and you want to incorporate the change, which means your EAM solution needs updating.
However, your vendor says that their software is general and you’ll have to pay for customisation. This ends up being so complex that you just find a way to work around your existing solution.
You want to upgrade your EAM system to the latest version your supplier has released because it has some great new features that would make your life a lot easier.
Unfortunately, your co-workers are so scarred by the last time they went through that lengthy, painful upgrade process that you can’t get buy-in to proceed – thus ending your dreams of modern tech.
Your company spent millions customising a generic EAM solution to its industry, internal policies and workflows. However, when your team starts using it, something breaks.
You talk to your software provider, who advises that since the issue is related to a customisation, it is not covered under warranty. You’re frustrated, but what’s worse is that you’re on your own.
If any of these tales of technology heartbreak hit close to home, don’t worry – you’re not alone.
We all know legacy technology is bad for business. It results in some really serious problems for your organisation, namely: making maintenance activities more manual; crippling your ability to interface with the latest and greatest technological advances (or even just the latest version of your browser); and making your staff unhappy because it’s slow / user-unfriendly / medieval-looking.
Nobody goes out to procure stale technology, but you’ve taken your first step to legacy land if you choose a generic EAM software and do not account for the growth of that technology over time:
Anyone familiar with Moore’s Law or Kurzweil’s work knows that technology is progressing at an exponential pace.
If your rail organisation wants to be its most profitable, efficient, reliable self, you need an EAM system that can keep up with technological advances and improvements. That means making the right choice when you go out to market.
An EAM system is a long-term investment and you want one that is as fit for purpose in 5, 10 or even 20 years as it is today.
Here’s how you can insure against obsolescence so your RFP stands for ‘Really Foolproof Purchasing’, not ‘Risky, Failure Probable’:
AVOID by including a question about the cost of upgrades in your RFP. By this, I don’t mean just bug fixes that should be included in your maintenance agreement, but actual full version upgrades that include new features to keep your system rooted in the present.
Don’t forget about the implementation aspect either – will deploying those upgrades be an extra cost, or will it be included as part of your maintenance arrangement at no extra charge?
AVOID by asking about prospective vendors’ product development practices: do you have the opportunity to suggest enhancements or improvements that will be included as part of the core solution?
Or will you have to pay for customisations every time, because a public transport operator-specific feature is ‘too niche’ for their product roadmap?
AVOID by stating your preference for an industry-specific, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solution in your tender. A COTS solution that’s tailored for rail won’t need the extensive customisation that a generic, one-size-fits-none EAM system requires, which saves you money now and into the future.
Partner with someone that knows it’s in their best interests to keep up with industry trends and needs – so you don’t have to pay them to do it.
With a rail-specific COTS EAM, system upgrades can be performed more frequently so useability stays relatively stable
AVOID by getting a feel for their longevity. When you interview tender applicants, scope out whether they’re long-termers who will evolve with you and the rail industry or fair-weather friends to whom you will just be one of many, many, many clients. (Here’s some suggested questions.)
You want a vendor who is committed to growing with you and your industry, not constantly busy with bigger fish to fry elsewhere.
If you include all of the above as questions in your procurement process, you should be able to determine the EAM solution and vendor that will be the most suitable for your rail business today as well as tomorrow. Remember, it’s not just about what goes into the expense column of this financial year’s budget – it’s also about the costs (and opportunity costs) for many years to come.
At Trapeze Group, we have a ‘software for life’ philosophy. That means your Trapeze EAM system is kept up to date and up to industry standards for free for as long as you’re part of our maintenance and customer care agreement.
As people transport is all we do, we inform our EAM product development roadmap using the upgrade requests and feedback from our client base so we remain current with industry needs. Instead of doing one-off customisations, we build any new features for new clients back into the base product and release it to the rest of our clients in the next update so that everybody benefits.
Find out more by contacting your local Trapeze rail industry manager.
Michael Zink – Australia / New Zealand
Mounir Sfendla – Middle East / North Africa
Enterprise Asset Management