This is article is part of a series exploring the results of the 2023 State of Smart Manufacturing and how maintenance teams can use them to strategize, plan, and add value to their operations. Get your copy of the report.
How maintenance teams can overcome technology paralysis
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by technology. With so many choices available, how can you even begin to prioritize what systems are right for your maintenance team and which ones to bypass ? But choices need to be made, technology will only evolve quicker, and those who don’t get used to evaluating and adopting it will get left behind.
This article is all about how to fight technology paralysis and become an expert at quickly assessing what solutions are worth your team’s time and money. Read on to learn how to overcome technology paralysis, and choose the right tech solution for you and your maintenance team.
What is technology paralysis?
Technology paralysis is the inability to decide between technology solutions. It’s often brought on by the fear that the solution is too hard to adopt, too complicated to use, too costly, or simply the wrong one. In other words, the decision becomes so daunting that no decision is made at all. Which might be the worst case scenario.
A recent study found that the number of industrial leaders that said they were concerned about tech paralysis grew by 6%, from 24% to 30%, between 2022 and 2023. That might not seem like a big deal but it shows us that the concern is growing.
*All data comes from the 2023 State of Smart Manufacturing report, which surveyed 1,350 manufacturers. Check out the results for yourself here.
Six strategies for overcoming technology paralysis
Making a choice and sticking to it is difficult, especially if what you are deciding on is unfamiliar. We’ve put together a few strategies that can help lessen your fears and make your choice easier.
Don’t be afraid of a little trial and error
The fear of failure is a major cause of technology paralysis. Find a solution that offers a free trial period and start there. Your maintenance team can experiment with different solutions without the pressure to be make a commitment. You might need to test three or four tools, but it’s a low-risk way to get started.
Don’t get lost in the details
Just because software has all the bells and whistles doesn’t mean you’ll use them. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the ‘newness’, but sometimes all your team needs is a simple solution. Look at software features and consider if you would use them. For example, don’t be swayed by promises of predictive analytics when your main use case is inventory management.
Involve your maintenance team early
When you start the conversation around adopting a digital solution , ask your team what they would like out of the software. How do they see it solving their biggest problems? Your technicians are a ready-made focus group. If you’re having trouble evaluating software , lay out the pros and cons of both and ask your team to weigh in.
Reach out to other companies who are using the software
Software vendors are always happy to connect you with a similar company that uses its product. Look at case studies as well for insight—they’ll give you an idea of what can be expected post-purchase.
Ask ALL the questions
Don’t leave anything on the table. If you have a question, ask it before you buy. Chances are, whatever you’re wondering has been asked before. Getting answers to your questions up front also clears any uncertainty about choosing the right solution.
Think about the return on investment
Maintenance software is an investment, both financially and in your team’s time. Of the manufacturing companies surveyed it was reported that the majority of them said they were already spending 23% of their total operating budget on technology.
When picking a solution, consider the ROI you will receive from using the software and the time-to-value (aka the time it takes to see that ROI) You can calculate your investment by its monetary value, time value, and usefulness.
How to decide what maintenance solution is right for your team
Choosing the right maintenance solution is no easy feat, luckily we have an entire article on choosing the right maintenance software for your team, but we’ve summarized some key points below.
1. Identify your pain points (What problems are you trying to solve?)
This first step involves examining all your internal processes to see what areas can be improved or managed by adding maintenance software.
Maybe you’re dealing with a skills gap and have trouble training employees. Every decision you make about choosing software should be in service to solving these issues.
Here are some questions you can use to narrow your focus:
- What are the long-term goals of your maintenance department and company?
- What is the biggest problem or frustration for your maintenance team?
- What KPIs or goals are you concerned about achieving?
2. Does it have all the features we need?
Consider making a list of must-haves, nice-to-haves, and optional features. This will help sort out what you need to get work done and what’s just a flashy add-on that you don’t need now or ever.
For example, does it have a mobile app function? It’s hard to get everyone to crowd around one computer and then have them memorize their work. If they have to keep going back to the office to reference a work order, they will either forget about it or print it out and risk losing that info anyway. A mobile app lets techs take their work with them and allows them to access it anywhere on the plant floor.
3. Is it easy to use?
This seems like a no-brainer, but if you’re easily confused during demos or when trialing the software, chances are it’s too hard to use. Your team may also find that the learning curve is steep and will spend a significant amount of time trying to learn the ins and outs of the new technology.
4. How long will it take to set up?
This is the part that gets most people. If the ramp-up time is too long, adoption rates will likely drop. Delays stop momentum and cause frustration, zapping any will to figure out a new way to work. Finding a solution that provides a dedicated implementation team can help you adjust the pace.
The faster new tech is to set up, the better it is for you and your team to address any concerns and reassure them that adopting a new solution is really worth it. However, you don’t want the ramp-up to be too fast, or you risk making mistakes and missing out on the real benefits of the software.
5. How does the pricing work? Does it fit into our budget?
Some solutions have a flat rate model, and some work by the user. Ensure you get that information upfront to avoid any surprises when it’s time to pay the bill.
6. Can the software scale with the business
Can you add users, parts, asset, and equipment easily? Does that require you to buy more licenses, a new version? How quickly can new assets go online in the software? This is important to know, because the hope is that you won’t need to get a whole new tech stack everytime your organization, production or team grow.
7. Is there training or implementation support?
This is super important to consider. A team that gets proper training on their software is less likely to regret their purchasing decisions later. That’s because they understand how to use the software to its full potential, comfortably. Next time you’re speaking to the sales team ask if they offer training videos, or more hands on versions.
Choosing a long-term software solution is a process
Remember, choosing a new software solution takes time. As long as there is a common goal in mind, and a group of willing participants ready to test it out, you can be confident in choosing the right solution you and your team need to be successful.