Project Description

Case Study: I Can’t Find My Parts!!!

My client had recently completed the implementation of a new Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). The project involved the retirement of two legacy systems with the implementation of a new system. Multiple mill sites were involved in the implementation, each now being faced with sharing a single spare parts catalog. The harsh reality soon set in that years of database management neglect resulted in a conglomeration of parts data that was inaccurate, incomplete, and out-of-date. Several mills would use the same part, but the descriptions didn’t match. Excessive parts inventories were carried; users were frustrated with the ‘new system’.

The Problem

  • Duplicate parts resulting in much higher inventory carrying costs
  • Frustrated maintenance planners having difficulty finding parts in ‘the system’
  • Purchasing agents unable to track purchasing history and manage volume purchasing

The Solution

  • Develop standard part descriptions, manufacturer codes
  • Clean up existing data to match new standards. Add additional information where necessary
  • Put new processes in place to control access to the management of the catalog data to ensure data integrity is maintained

The Project

The client asked me to get this master catalog back into a state where end users (over 1000) would be able to effectively use it to order new parts, plan work orders etc. The company was carrying excessive inventory costs and needed to reduce duplication and begin sharing parts between the different operations.

Drawing on a project team in excess of 25 trades people, business managers, and representatives from IT, a series of workshops were conducted to achieve consensus on part descriptions and priority for data cleanup.

Using in-house IT and specialized business resources (folks who knew parts) and the services of an outside data management firm, the existing catalog was cleaned up over an 8 month period. Strict quality control processes were put into place to ensure that data integrity was maintained and the task was completed to an acceptable level as defined by the end-users. A dedicated in-house resource took over this catalog administrator role after the project finished.

The Result

  • inventory levels dropped, part ‘sharing’ is occurring between mills; duplicate parts are being consumed and not re-ordered
  • users are able to ‘find their parts’
  • purchasing history is more complete and accurate; no longer is the same part being purchased from the same vendor for two locations at two separate prices (same FOB point)!


  • Standardizing data repositories is essential to effective use of ERP, CMMS and other enterprise information systems
  • Having stakeholders participate in developing standards is essential for buy-in into the solution
  • Standardizing parts catalogs potentially saves millions in inventory carrying costs
  • Implementing strict controls over database modifications ensures long term data integrity and satisfaction for the end users