Using a Planning/Scheduling Software on the Other Side of the World

In today’s increasingly global world, it’s no surprise that organizations with enterprise maintenance look for the best software providers – regardless of where they’re located in proximity to the organization.

But some Maintenance Planners, Maintenance Schedulers, and Maximo Administrators may worry that if the vendor of their Planning and Scheduling toolset isn’t in the same time zone, or even in the same country, that it might be difficult to get timely support should the need arise.

It’s a legitimate concern – that’s why it’s only advisable to do business with software providers who have a proven track record of outstanding support on a global scale.

So, we connected with Regan C. (RC) and Elliot Bonilla (EB), Solufy’s director of Technical Support [Now Implementation & Support Manager at Prometheus Group], to see how they make it work. Regan works in Maintenance Planning and Maximo Administration and is about as far away from Prometheus headquarters as one can be: Perth, Australia.

Note: This interview was originally conducted by Solufy whose support team is now integrated with Prometheus Group.

Q. How did your organization discover Prometheus Routine Maintenance?

RC. We discovered AKWIRE [Prometheus Routine Maintenance] at one of the annual IBM Pulse conferences we have down under. We were looking for a scheduler solution to assist us working with large volumes of work orders.

Q. Did you have any hesitations about working with a support team based in North America?

RC. “I wouldn’t say hesitations, but I did have some assumptions. When we first transitioned from our local support partner to direct support from Solufy [Prometheus], I did think that resolving a support call would take many days due to the time difference. I guess I expected that I’d need to ask one question at a time and that it would take days to close the tickets. Instead, the Solufy [Prometheus] support team and the responsiveness has exceeded all my expectations.”

EB. “Over the years, we’ve met many clients who have initial hesitations about working with a company ‘so far away’. But what they come to realize is that it doesn’t matter if you’re in Bombay, India or Brownsburg, Indiana; you want tools that work.

You need flexible, visual tools that streamline your processes and allow you to set up the data your way.

“And, since that’s what AKWIRE [Prometheus Routine Maintenance] does best, we’ve got Maintenance Planning and Scheduling teams around the world saying, ‘I want that!’. So, we have a lot of experience working with clients in different states, different time zones, different countries, and different continents. It doesn’t matter where you’re located – our support team is there for you.”

Q. Knowing that there’s 14-hour time difference, how do you make the support process work?

RC. “It was easy to find a process that works well for me. I have a window of time each morning and each evening to work through any issues where I can get prompt responses, despite the time difference. If we haven’t worked through the issue by then, I can usually expect an answer waiting in my inbox the when I next open my email.”

EB. “We are passionate about getting our clients solutions as quickly and efficiently as possible. We’ve designed our methods and processes to help us achieve that. This is the same for clients who are just down the road and those who are ‘across the pond’.”

Q. Do any particular Prometheus support moments stand out to you?

RC. “After a major version upgrade and a transition to LDAP, we ran into issues in the production environment. There was a lot of pressure to resolve it quickly. To meet this deadline for resolving this issue, both my support person (Elliot) and I had to make ourselves available outside of our usual hours. It was great to see the commitment and effort was shared; I felt like Elliot was in it with me.

“Due to environment access issues, the Solufy [Prometheus] team was unable to get full access to the environment to perform debugging. Elliot supplied me with testing and troubleshooting documentation, along with a testing package to emulate the connections performed by AKWIRE [Prometheus]. I was able to make enough progress to assist with finding the root cause.

This was a great experience for me, and Elliot provided enough guidance for me to succeed with the ‘doing’. After that, we used online screen sharing and worked it out together. We were able to bounce ideas off each other and we got to the pointy end and resolved the issues.

“I was impressed with Elliot’s knowledge of Maximo and Java. At some points, our work required downloading and transferring files. During this time, we had the chance to chat, and have a little fun while we waited for the files to load. But we also got into some pretty heavy technical discussions and I felt lucky to have the opportunity to extract knowledge from him. Elliot and I have been working together for over two years now, and we’ve built a strong professional relationship, but I would say it all started during that support call.”

EB. “I remember that call! That’s the great thing about this line of work – often, you’re on the call with someone who is passionate about the same things you’re passionate about. So, we’re having this deep, technical conversation… and it’s fun for both of us! By the end of that call, I was thinking to myself, ‘This guy is sharp!’. Working with Regan was and is a pleasure because he does his due diligence and he sees this as a partnership, as do I. We’re both helping each other. I love working with our clients because I get to learn from them, too.

Q. Do you have any advice or recommendations for Prometheus/Maximo Administrators in a similar situation?

RC. “I think a key to success is that the AKWIRE [Prometheus] /Maximo Administrator should always obtain as much detail and attempt to diagnose the fault as best as possible. This gives the OEM support the best chance to help efficiently. It is a two-way street.

When I work with Solufy [Prometheus], I can see that my efforts to diagnose the problems are appreciated, and I always see that they return the effort as well. What we have is a real partnership.”

EB. “I couldn’t agree more, Regan. You know your system like the back of your hand, and any inklings, insights or ideas you may have can be helpful to your support team as they work to find you a solution. Details that may seem insignificant can become very important, so make sure to include as much of that kind of information, such as any hot fixes applied to Maximo, one-off patches provided by IBM, or any changes in the code done internally. Basically, the more you can tell us about anything that is not out-of-the-box on the process that you are seeing fail. I always tell people to include as much detail as possible. If you think it’s too much detail, you’re probably missing something. It’s worth the time to make sure it’s all there, because it can help us hone in on the cause of the issue much more quickly.”

Maintenance Planners and Schedulers around the world want the same thing: solutions that work

So, what do you do if you find the Planning and Scheduling solutions of your dreams and realize the vendor is headquartered on the other side of the globe?

In today’s global marketplace, where we have dozens of virtual conferencing options, email, and cellphones that are basically handheld supercomputers, you shouldn’t have to pass up a great Maintenance Planning and Scheduling software suite based on where the vendor is located.

Want to know if they’re going to treat you right? Go straight to the source: their clients. Find out if they’ve got the commitment and the processes in place to deliver top-notch service and support. If you’ve found a great tool that’s backed by awesome (but far away) support, it beats a frustrating, convoluted tool with nearby support any day.