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Marketing Maintenance

Maintenance Requirements

The first part of the process is to identify the current maintenance requirements. Current maintenance requirements include personnel, tools and equipment, and time. First, the manager must identify the personnel on hand and the skills they possess. Next, the tools and equipment must be listed including non-working tools with their status. Finally, the amount of time available throughout the maintenance department has to be analyzed for possible project time.

The personnel are the most critical part of the project decision. The lack of subject matter experts within the corporation forces increased costs from outsourcing or hiring personnel with the skills needed. The real problem is getting the time estimates for a project to determine if the project is feasible before hiring personnel to perform the project. Another item to take into consideration is the level of skill the experts possess which will affect how accurate the estimates will be. The trust factor plays heavily into the estimates and the ability to meet the time and cost considerations without sacrificing the quality. The unfortunate problem with estimates is that sometimes they are padded for security or the expert might estimate or agree to an unrealistic time because of performance expectations.

Tools and equipment must be listed so the manager can see the available resources. The list should include any equipment or tools that are currently non-working tools. Non-working tools or equipment carry a repair cost but that cost can sometimes be far less than purchasing or renting and then can be used for other possible projects.

The time available in the maintenance department has to be listed in the functional areas. The hours are generally broken down by electrical, mechanical, machinist, utility, and welder. Some organizations will have more categories or less. In addition, the categories can be broken down further into experience levels. (i.e. Electrician "A", Electrician "B", etc.) The further breakdown of hours can give the manager a better picture of the capabilities and what experience levels are needed for projects.

Internal to Department

Projects will only be successful if the people involved have complete buy-in. Less than 100% buy-in equates to the slow erosion of the project and future process. In addition, the completion time will come into question with the lack of full participation on task performance.

The maintenance manager has to sell the project to the personnel. The first part to accomplishing the sale is to properly market the project. This includes the design of the purpose in relation to the mission, benefits that can be derived, and the effects it will have on the personnel. The most important part is the purpose in relation to the mission. Personnel are generally supportive for the overall business and will understand the importance mission success has on the company's future. Along with the purpose is the common thought of, "what's in it for me?" The manager has to tie in the benefits for the personnel if he truly wants total buy-in.

The lack of total buy-in will slowly erode the project or future process. In some cases, the erosion can be very fast and sudden. In either case, the project will fail or become only partially effective. Generally, failed projects not only cost the company money but also can prematurely derail future projects. The manager must possess the skills to gain buy-in from the personnel and management.

External to Department

The external sales and marketing is the "bread and butter" step because of the funding and cooperation from upper level management and other departments can ultimately make or break the system. The most important part of the external sale is to find allies who are willing to bear the burden with the Maintenance Department. Here we are to the infamous office politics portion. The Maintenance Manager should be willing to make some sacrifices part of the time to accomplish key goals. The office politics will be saved for another time though to stick with the core issue.

Building a proposal is the next step in the sale and marketing of a project or program. Unlike the internal portion which can be done without an official proposal, the external will never happen without the proper paperwork. The proposal must contain all of the information necessary to meet the needs of the audience. Generally, there is only one shot and if the proposal misses, it will probably never be reloaded. Study the target before the shot to ensure that there is at least a hole somewhere on the paper. On occasion, the proposal might have to be resubmitted but only if it was very close to the bull's-eye in the first place.

Finally, the proposal is ready and the meeting is here. The time to "sell, sell, sell" is the final step. The proposal is only as good as the deliverer. The Maintenance Manager has to know what is being sold, for how much, and why. The manager needs to know as much as if not more than those he is speaking to about the proposal to be seen as worthy. If the attention and respect are lost, the proposal is lost.

Article submitted by Robert Apelgren, CMRP

Robert Apelgren is a Senior Reliability Engineer. He received his BS in Industrial Technology from Roger Williams University and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. He is a Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional. He has 12 years of maintenance experience as a technician, supervisor, coordinator, consultant, and trainer.

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