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Pay $3k to keep out of trouble, or more to get out of jail

Pay $3k now to keep out of trouble or more to get out of jail later. Your plant asset performance is down and you know it. It’s only a matter of time before there is an accident. You need to improve but funds are limited. 

The expert consultants will want to begin with some sort of an assessment. They will identify problems and offer solutions, for a price (likely $50k or more). You can’t afford it. Some consultants might even be former employees. Ask yourself, “if they worked here before, then why didn’t she/he fix what was wrong when they were here?” Consider getting a different consultant but you will still struggle with a big inconvenient truth!

There is an old joke about asking a consultant what time it is. They will borrow your watch and then tell you the time. Assessments are like that – you and your staff already know what is going on in your organization. Each of you has a piece of the puzzle, but few (perhaps none) have the whole picture. The consultant pieces it together for you. But is an assessment the only way? After all, you already know you have a problem. 

You don’t need or want an assessment only to confirm that you have problems. A score and someone else’s opinion don’t really add value. You need recommendations and probably some sort of quantifiable justification for taking action or getting funding.

Our goal as a specialty consulting firm is to help our clients improve their business through the improved performance of their physical assets. Our reputation is built on achieving results, not on billing a lot of hours for very little gain. We’ve come up with a much less expensive alternative that you can probably afford easily. Pay $3k now to keep out of trouble, or more later. And $3k is the high end of what you might pay.

For several years we have used training rather than assessments to get to that point of having recommended actions quickly, by leveraging what your staff already know. It is faster, cheaper and it helps create some initial momentum for changes to take place without a lot of resistance. Even at less than half the cost of an assessment, that training requires an investment, that you may need to justify to others. Your discretionary spending limit is too low and you are still stuck. You are busy fighting fires all day, so how can you find the time needed to justify spending more to get some help? What if you could start for free, then decide on spending more? What if that extra spend was still only a small nominal fee? You can keep the spending within your own limits. Remember, you can pay $3k now to keep out of trouble or more to get out of jail later. 

Start free! Let’s say that you can’t yet justify bringing in the consultants. We want to help you, so we created a free maturity assessment online. It asks ten questions that you can probably answer with just a bit of digging. Be careful to follow the definitions we use closely if you want an accurate result. It quickly reveals where you are in terms of maintenance and reliability maturity. You can even download the results.

If you score in the red, orange, or yellow areas, then you almost certainly have quite a bit of money at stake. In the light green areas, you have improvements to make, and they are things that you can likely do without much help from outside. Your maturity level is high enough that you can probably figure them out for yourself.

In those more colorful areas where you “need improvement” however, you need to dig a bit deeper. The quick maturity assessment doesn’t quantify the benefits of making changes and you will need quantifiable benefits to get funding for any help or initiative you may want.

For that, you need an estimate of the business case, and for that, you need a more comprehensive evaluation. Good news – you are party of the way there already. Save your answers from the maturity assessment. You can now build on that by adding in some financial and performance data. If you are in those “needs improvement” areas of the graph, then you will want to use our “business case estimator“.

The estimator is not free but it is inexpensive – just a few hundred dollars. That’s less than you’d pay for an hour of a good consultant’s time, certainly less than an hour of downtime costs when you suffer a failure n your operations. Based on your inputs, you will get an estimate of cost savings, production, revenue, margin gains, and even improvement in your use of working capital. The numeric output looks like the table to the left. You will also get a few high-level observations based on those inputs. We’ve used simple rules-based “artificial intelligence” to make those observations based on our considerable experience at hundreds of operations. You will get a good idea of just where you most likely need to pay attention and make some changes. 

Those observations are not recommendations, but they can be very helpful as a starting point. Some of the major consulting firms that might do an assessment will provide similar observations – high level, not overly detailed, and they don’t really tell you what you need to do either. That big invoice isn’t always worth it. You have an opportunity. Pay $3k now to keep out of trouble or more to get out of jail later.

While all that is helpful, you will need to dig deeper. You will, however, have enough information to justify some initial spending. 

Getting to this point with a major consulting firm or specialist doing an assessment will normally take a few weeks and cost you $30,000 to $50,000 (maybe even more). Even the former employee who is now calling himself a consultant will likely take more than a week and cost you more than $10,000 for his assessment.

We can certainly go much deeper with our training and, if you really want it, our assessments. But, what you need, is a list of recommended actions, priorities, and a plan. With the business case estimator, you’ll know what the potential improvements are worth to your organization, and you should then have more than enough justification to finance at least some initial actions. Pay $3k now to keep out of trouble or more to get out of jail later.

Note that the estimator is designed with producing operations in mind and has an underlying assumption that you can sell whatever you are producing. That won’t always be the case, but you can still make good use of the estimator.

In some cases, you can’t sell the additional products, even if you produce it for less. You may be operating a fleet of vehicles, a distribution facility, or a utility, where additional capacity doesn’t translate into revenues. But the lower operating costs will always translate into greater margin! Perhaps the market for your product is constrained and you really only need cost reductions. Reliability achieves capacity increase, but it doesn’t need to be used for production increases. It can also be used for cost reductions. For instance, you might be able to eliminate a shift, reduce fleet size, operate fewer hours, lower cost per unit of output, or unit of throughput.

A brief consultation with us about your results from the maturity assessment or from the estimator will be time and money well spent, and far less than what you might pay with other consulting firms that are relying on older traditional methods.