Stop Telling the Dirty Data Story for Your MRO

Dirt Data Story

The story’s not new. There’s a saying in literature that if you were break down every story ever written to their basic components, they pretty much tell the same story over again.  Star-crossed lovers, the hero’s quest, a stranger in the village – you get the idea. The same is true with your enterprise’s MRO data.

Making your data friction the villian of your MRO strategy

As a global manufacturer, you understand the vast complexity of your operations and procurement needs. The different roles and responsibilities across departments, all working furiously towards a common goal of continued growth and sustained customer loyalty. The ever-growing tech stack housing endless MRO data streams that hopefully tell what spare parts you need and where. But the dirty data slows progress like an anchor dragging across the seafloor.

You’ve likely experienced numerous mergers and acquisitions over the years as your business sought to expand its offerings. Perhaps you were involved in some of the transactions or were the ones acquired. Regardless, you realize that every time you add a new business unit or a new company into the organization’s portfolio, new layers of complexity come with it. 

Unfortunately, M&As don’t fall into place like puzzle pieces; initial comparisons would look more like sticks connected with bubble gum. And that newly attached stick has its own MRO management processes, supplier base, tech stack, and MRO data variances. And these remain the status quo for driving their operations, even within the new enterprise umbrella and causes friction between teams. MRO procurement efforts broaden, budgets climb, materials duplicate, min/max levels become outdated, working capital gets wasted, and your MRO data gets dirtier and dirtier. Your villian emerges.

The plea for a data cleanse arrives

Things will go on this way until a migration initiative surfaces, usually involving a costly ERP, to hopefully harmonize all the disparate systems. But this can take years, if it ever happens at all. Manufacturing continues as usual, until someone decides it’s time to tell the dirty data story and claim the business desperate needs a data cleanse if they are ever going to get a handle on their MRO. 

Except this time it’s from a different point of view, a different plant or business unit, a different director or executive. But it’s still the same story; it contains the same bad actors as the previous version, and charges the same protagonist with completing the data cleanse quest. So what do you do? You follow the plot, just as you did last time. You decide to fight the dirty MRO data with a data cleanse.

In comes the highly respected consulting team to quell your fears with affirmations of understanding your business model, years of experience, and a brand no one can deny. They swear allegiance to comb through your MRO data, strike down the outliers, slay the anomalies, and put to rest the erroneous inputs. And this battle will only take 12-18 months to hand you the fresh, clean data you need.

Do you shut down the factories for 12-18 months? Do you close the doors of your enterprise for a year and a half? Of course not! Production keeps humming, 18 months roll by, you turn to see your smiling consultant team rushing in to deliver the clean data. “Yay!” you exclaim. “The dirty data is slain! We can start anew!” 

Only it hasn’t and you don’t. The data cleanse fixed “historical” issues while your business added a year and a half of more terrible data on top, soiling the consulting efforts. The “clean” MRO data you’ve received no longer applies to your business. It’s outdated. It’s old. Just like your dirty data story. What you’ve truly received is a very big bill for yet another useless data cleanse project. It’s not the resolution you hoped your story would have, but it’s the one you should have known you would get.

The road not taken

So now you’re faced with two options; a fork in the road if you will. The first, which most organizations take, is where you eat the bill, trudge forward, and after another three to five years pass, walk into the meeting, and tell the same sad, dirty data story yet again. Only this time, there’s a new set of executives because the ones didn’t survive the failed data cleanse initiative.  

The second option, often the road not taken, is where you invest in a technology purposely built for MRO. One that has AI models specifically built for addressing this problem, doesn’t require long implementation, doesn’t require a complete overhaul of your enterprise systems, doesn’t require a third party’s expensive time. It plugs and plays using the dirty MRO data you already have on hand and harmonizes it. And just like that, you’ve completely rewritten the story. 

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”*

Does this sound more like the version you’d like to tell going forward? Take this three minute self-guided tour to learn how to avoid the costly data cleanse of old. 


* Frost, Robert. “The Road Not Taken.” Aug, 1915.

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