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In a recent survey of O&M employees conducted by Emory University students and Presenso, most respondents indicated that assigning a plant level evangelist / dedicated project owner has a high impact on scaling Maintenance 4.0 solutions.

This article addresses the topic of who should manage the implementation of Maintenance 4.0.

Since every organization is structured differently, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. That said, both an Executive Sponsor and a Project Evangelist are critical for long-term success.

Let’s review each on separately:

Executive Sponsor

The notion that critical projects be assigned an Executive Sponsor is widely accepted.  The sponsor ensures alignment with the organizational overall strategy and can gain buy-in from other key executives within the organization. However, according to a Harvard Business Review by Ron Ashkenas titled “How to Be an Effective Executive Sponsor,” many Executive Sponsors are disconnected from the project they sponsor and do not know how to add value.  This creates dysfunction for the project but also risk for the Sponsor whose performance is evaluated by the CEO.

Dr. Ashkenas suggests that the following steps:

Prior project launch, the Executive Sponsor and the project leader should have candid discussions about the requirements and expectations from the sponsor.  This might seem obvious, but based on experience, many project leaders lack the courage to engage directly in this manner.

Both the Executive Sponsor and the project leader need to be realistic about the extent to which he or she can commit. In many instances, Executives sponsors manage multiple project and don’t actively contribute in a meaningful way.  An Executive Sponsor that focuses on only a  few initiatives, is more likely to see through the project.

Project Evangelist

Evangelism isn’t a job title, it’s a way of life. – Guy Kawasaki

Let’s take into consideration the word Evangelist is typically associated with religion and is synonymous with preacher, missionary, proselytizer and crusader. Granted, these are not terms that are typically applied to industrial plant. At the same time, the Project Evangelist will need to be a believer who is passionate about Maintenance 4.0 to spread the faith. A process-oriented project manager may not be the right fit. Let’s remember that Maintenance 4.0 represents disruptive change and career project managers often fear upsetting the status quo (and the potential to challenge aspects of organizational hierarchy).

The Evangelist role is similar to the “Change Agent” referenced in Dave Ulrich’s Four-Role Model of HR.  The requirements for this role include the following:

  • An understanding of the organization’s culture and what is effective and ineffective
  • Institutional change capabilities with the organization
  • Assists line managers to lead and facilitate change

It Takes a Village….

Maintenance 4.0 is not a simple initiative and requires support from across the organization. As part of the project office, we recommend that you form a cross-functional team that includes representatives of the following:

  • Plant Asset Maintenance
  • Plant Engineering
  • Plant Management
  • IT
  • Finance

 Summary and Conclusion

The successful implementation of Maintenance 4.0 can have far reaching consequences across the organization. The project teams that is selected will be responsible for changing the mindset of employees that are likely to be skeptical and resentful of change. Without executive support from the top of the organization and buy-in across the employee base, industrial plants will struggle to achieve the ambitious goals of Maintenance 4.0.