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You Told Us…Here’s What We Heard

Eleven poll questions were utilized and respondents were from multiple manufacturing industries, municipalities (government and private sector) and facility environments (again, both government and private sector). These poll questions were collected through webinars and publicly- and privately-held training seminars, with approximately 70 unique organizations participating. The selected questions placed emphasis on accurate cost collection and distribution, integration into day-to-day activities, proper training, data utilization and reviews that add value to the organization. Thank you to all who took the time to participate in our survey. For those who didn't have a chance to participate in the study, feel free to poll yourself with the questions provided here.

The questions selected for the survey were straightforward and had no hidden meaning. The only agenda is or was to point out what successful system implementation, integration and utilization should or could provide. Keep in mind that at "go live" time, your system may have "scored" very well, but that was then, so how does it score now? Actually, there really is no score, only the ability to make the right decision utilizing accurate and factual data. This more than likely was one of the driving factors in your decision to purchase your system in the first place. Let's see what everyone had to say:

Poll Question 1


The survey finds that 53% of respondents did not have accurate labor costs within their systems. Is this that important? It is if capturing accurate labor expenses to assets or equipment, departments, areas, activities, etc, is important to you. Ideally, your system should provide you with a real-time picture of your maintenance expenditures. Labor costs are a significant part of those expenditures coming from the maintenance budget. It's an eye-opener, especially when one sees the actual labor expenses to repair, or rebuild low cost items that perhaps should have a run-to-fail strategy. If you want to drive behaviors, start by looking at the labor costs of specific activities or repairs.

I routinely hear numerous excuses as to why labor is not included within the system. Confidentiality is always a concern, however, if implemented properly, this data is only available at the system administrator level. While averaging of (unburdened) labor rates are utilized by many organizations, this could be misleading if the system is used to track maintenance expenditures since the averages are typically a few years old. Additionally, this will establish inaccurate job plan and backlog labor cost estimates that will impact utilizing your system in developing next year's budget. The correct answer is each maintenance resource should have its burdened labor rate established within the system. It is routinely updated when salary adjustments are made.

Poll Question 2


The overwhelming majority had 25% or less of materials/spare parts identified with costs, locations, accurate quantities and reorder methods assigned. There are a few issues associated with this particular question. How do maintenance resources and stores personnel locate necessary parts efficiently? Ideally, it is all contained within the system and that's the resource used to locate necessary parts or materials. Otherwise, time is spent wandering the storeroom trying to locate items.

The other major component of costing information is parts or materials used to repair or maintain items. Accurate parts costs must be established to the asset or equipment that used the items to ensure a complete (labor and parts) costing picture. This information is part of the equation to identify when it is no longer cost effective to continue maintaining an asset. Routine-established cycle counting would assist in keeping locations and quantities updated.

Not having this information fully recognized within the system as a bill of materials (BOM) impacts the planning effort. Valuable planning time is spent identifying and obtaining parts information for ordering purposes or establishing them within the system. Ideally, during the maintenance planning phase, pick lists are generated and parts are pulled and kitted to support proactive maintenance. Identification of required reorder points or min/max levels would assist in ensuring necessary items are available when needed. The correct answer is 100% parts or materials are identified with accurate costs, locations, correct quantities and reordering methods assigned.

Poll Question 3


Approximately 75% of respondents had no workflows, no integration, or no training on the desired way to ensure the system captures accurate data. Unfortunately, this is extremely common and the worst part is these tools are designed to automate workflows and processes. So basically, 75% of the responders have automated nothing. To fully integrate these tools, workflows must be developed and utilized to identify numerous key system enablers that collect accurate data, such as work order types, work order statuses, approval levels, etc. Once developed, they must be documented and utilized to train the organization to ensure the tool becomes integrated into all activities. The goal is everyone following the flows and collecting accurate information as a result of system utilization. The correct answer would be all workflows and processes for the integration of the system into daily maintenance activities have been defined, published and utilized to train the organization.

Poll Question 4


Approximately 60% of respondents had no standard operating procedures document to use as a system management and future training tool. Numerous configuration decisions were made during the implementation of the system and these must be documented to ensure meaningful system training can be provided while staying current with future configuration changes. As part of a continuous improvement culture, this document is typically "owned" by the system administrator and has a management of change (MOC) process or procedure. To ensure the system evolves with the changing environment of the facility and changing data needs, there should be routine auditing and changes made when necessary to ensure the system and the resident data continuously meet the needs of the facility. Within the document, detailed flows or procedures for requesting, approving and implementing changes by any system user should be found.

Poll Question 5


Again, since 60% of the respondents did not have a standard operating procedures document, they did not utilize it for training. How were individuals trained on the system? How was standardization applied in the utilization of the system to achieve standardized data collection? What about new employees and their system training needs? This critical phase puts the tool in the hands of the users and must be reinforced with training materials. What better training material than a document that contains all information about the system, its configuration and its intended utilization? Ideally, this document and the developed workflows and processes are both trained together so everyone understands the flow and the system to ensure standardized data collection. Once developed and kept current through the assigned management of change process, it also becomes the training for future employees.

Poll Question 6


The survey shows that 55% of respondents had no established metrics or key performance indicators and no standard reports developed. Only 20% obtained the information directly from their system. The number one reason most organizations purchase a system is to establish routine reporting information and metrics or indicators to guide them in driving appropriate behaviors. These metrics or indicators must be established, trained to the organization, posted for all to see and utilized to drive behaviors. Routine reports should be developed for numerous roles throughout the organization (e.g., maintenance, materials, purchasing, operations, etc.) to ensure these roles utilize accurate data in their day-to-day decision making. In an ideal system dependent environment, all reporting information and metrics or indicators come directly from the system, reducing any possibility of data manipulation errors.

Poll Question 7


According to the poll, 47% of respondents capture 25% or less of the actual work activities performed by maintenance. I like to think of these systems as a communications tool, with communication performed through the utilization of work orders. Once a work order is established within the system, it becomes the collection point of all expenditures, the starting point of all necessary metrics or indicators and, ultimately, the authorization to perform activities. Too many organizations routinely conduct maintenance activities without work orders. When this happens, these activities are considered non-events and necessary maintenance management information and historically valuable information are never captured. Those 5-minute jobs that are routinely performed are, in most circumstances, the most problematic pieces of equipment or assets, yet we know nothing about them. The correct answer is all work is captured to a work order that identifies the equipment or asset where the time and materials were spent.

Poll Question 8


Poll results show that 41% of respondents do not have defined work priorities. Defined work order priorities are critical for ensuring available maintenance resources are utilized on important work first. Most organizations approach this from a passionate approach with who yells the loudest getting responded to first. Work order priorities are developed to assist in identifying the mean time to plan and mean time to execute. These priorities work hand-in-hand with equipment or asset criticality. We must work on the important assets and the highest priority work first. There should be a routine auditing process to ensure priorities are not abused and maintenance resources are deployed to meet the needs of the facility, not individuals.

Poll Question 9


The survey finds that 33% of the respondents never conduct historical reviews of their data. Fortunately or unfortunately, maintenance is a very repetitive business, meaning the failures and activities we do today, we will do again in the future. Quarterly reviews of historical data should be conducted and include identification of repetitive failures, detection for patterns or trends and development of a Top 10 list of problematic equipment or assets. Materials utilized also should be reviewed to understand where the parts are being consumed. Through these historical reviews, enhancements to the preventive maintenance (PM) program and the frequencies of performance should be examined to keep the PM program dynamic within the changing operating environment of the equipment or assets.

Poll Question 10


This poll question reveals that 38% of respondents never review their purchase history. Much like the work order history review, this review will identify what is bought, where it was used and how many were purchased. Typical things to look for are parts utilization to equipment or assets and a Top 10 list of where the items are going. Additionally, emergency purchases must be understood. These types of purchases are your most expensive and mitigating them is necessary. As with the work order, historical review trends can be seen through the expenditures of parts and where they were utilized.

Poll Question 11


This question, although it may seem farfetched to some, is very real. One of the more interesting jobs where I have worked was a law firm. Ten years of historical data was used to determine the outcome of a multi-million dollar lawsuit. Much to the disappointment of one of the parties, the results were not favorable. The answers everyone sought were contained within the system. As can be seen by the responses, a very small number would be comfortable in the courtroom.

If you address the first 10 items in this article and you're faced with poll question #11 in your future, you'll be able to respond with "very confident."

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Dave Bertolini is a Managing Principal with People and Processes, Inc., a firm that specializes in changing cultures from reactive to proactive through the optimization of people and processes. He has over 30 years experience in improvement initiatives and has led more than 300 improvement initiatives and implementations for facilities, municipalities and manufacturing environments. He is recognized as an industry expert in the implementation and utilization of computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS). In addition, he routinely conducts educational seminars on best practices, CMMS selection, implementation and utilization.

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