In previous sections, we have seen how maintenance management will be a complex task in many production environments. Moreover, maintenance is found to be a key variable in advanced manufacturing technology environments (Jonsson, 1999). When maintenance is complex and relevant for a company, how does an organization prepare for addressing and managing this function complexity? To answer this question, this section examines ways to deal with complexity and build organizational abilities. Then, the next section considers these abilities within the maintenance management framework.
At present, many big corporations consider relationship, product, and process competencies as key factors of their organizational efficiency which also has been a business strategy and management literature topic. Many contributions can be found about the complementarity of cooperative and technological competencies in the literature (Tyler, 2001).
Tidd (1995) describes two organizational factors that affect a firm's ability to develop and commercialize new products based on novel forms of innovation: the internal organization of the firm; and the firm's links with other organizations including suppliers, customers, and networks of collaborating organizations. Within a firm, the development of complex product systems is likely to require managing across traditional product-division boundaries. The breadth of competencies required may necessitate strong interfirm linkages. When firms compete in environments characterized by accelerating product life cycles, mass customization, and technological discontinuities, a product-centered perspective on strategy may help explain a firm's current competitive advantage. However, this perspective adds little guidance in making strategies that create competitive advantage in the future. As a strategic response to a changing global environment, internal and external customer relationships integration through relationships management seems to be important. Productive and profitable partnerships can be built by creating trusting, committed, and reciprocal relationships. Lasting and fruitful alliances are built and maintained by employees charged with managing the alliance interfaces (Beckett-Camarata et al., 1998).