This article, published in the June/July issue of BIC Magazine, outlines some of the time-tested ways to get the continuous improvement out of your SAP for Plant Maintenance (PM/EAM) system.
“Continuous improvement” is huge these days, but it’s important to realize change for the sake of change doesn’t get us closer to our equipment reliability and availability goals. Sometimes changes are made purely to satisfy the needs of an individual manager without carefully considering benefits and impacts to the larger organization. Often these changes are implemented to solve immediate issues and work in the short term. However, they may not be sustainable in the long term and may even impact other unintended areas because of the lack of consideration and buy-in from the organization as a whole.
When continuous improvement becomes a mantra with a vague vision, the goalpost continuously moves. We’ll try something such as talk to a few people and expect the results to show up as we have pictured them. Then, after a few months, when things aren’t working as we expected them to, we change things. We wait a few more months and make some more changes.
This goes on for a while and then frustration sets in. The blame game starts because the expected success doesn’t materialize and no one is doing what they are “supposed” to. The people who are trying to meet the expectations are confused and disheartened. They think they are providing what management wants, but again, due to a poorly defined/communicated vision, what they pictured is different from what management actually wants. The whole improvement effort is in jeopardy and we are back to square one.
True and sustainable improvement happens when it is based on a unified organizational vision with measureable goals and objectives. When leadership takes the time to step back and define what success would look like in all its aspects and then breaks it down into measureable goals, it is a vision with teeth! The only way the vision is going to take a bite out of reactive maintenance is if it is “sold” and explained to the people who actually have to make it happen. As they buy in, and are supported with the necessary training to understand their part, something real can happen.
When developing a vision, be sure to consider the various parts that make up the whole. This means, for example, considering what the ideal workflow will look like, how the Computerized Maintenance Management System will support the workflow, and what roles and responsibilities should be defined in order for people to understand what’s expected of them.
Making the vision specific and real includes creating measureable goals and objectives. Robin Sharma said, “What gets measured gets improved.” Creating clear and realistic measurements, and making someone responsible for accomplishing them, will greatly impact your chances of success. We have found, though, what is measured, and reported on, improves exponentially. Also, these measurements can drive the right improvements if they make success and failure clearly visible.
To gain sustainable change, patience is required. It’s important to allow enough time to let results emerge. However, as more information becomes available during the implementation or rollout of an improvement, the vision and objectives need to be refined. Gaining control and stability requires tweaking and adjustment along the way through interactive support and feedback. A missile does not fly in a straight line as it can be pushed off course a number of times on the way to its target. It constantly makes minor course corrections along the way. This means to gain optimum results, flexibility is required.
Here is another analogy. Would you plant beans and then four weeks later remove the healthy plants because there is no yield yet — only to replace those beans with another type to see if they do any better? Certainly not, because you know how long it takes for beans to yield. It is important to assess your organization’s maturity and progress before and during the initiation of an improvement effort in terms of the volume of work involved, and the time it would take for people to learn, understand, implement and reach the desired outcome.
With a vision that inspires, continuous improvement becomes a way of life. New people are assimilated and encouraged to embrace improvement and the organization is lifted to a higher level.
For more information, visit www. Quadro-Solutions.com or call (281) 978-4259.