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Uptime Insights – 6 – KPIs and Performance Management

Most of us wouldn’t argue that if you can measure it, you can improve it. Performance measures do indeed drive results, both good and bad. Knowing where you are now and what you want to achieve by some point in the future do help you to outline your path towards your objective. Once you know your path, you then need a way to make sure you are still on it. And once you’ve past way-points, you also need to know that what you’ve achieved so far, continues to be sustained.

The work management process is essential to keeping costs under control in maintenance. Costs, however, are just an input.  Worse still – they are a lagging indicator of how well you have done, not how you will do. Clearly you need to monitor more than just costs. What about measuring results? Results are not inputs, they are what you get from maintenance. You get “uptime”, availability, reliability, production, service delivery, on-time performance, etc. Like costs, the result is also important and it is a lagging indicator. It tells you what you’ve achieved, not what you will achieve.

Think of maintenance as a process that has inputs (costs) and outputs (availability). We want low levels of inputs and high levels of output. Accountants will watch the former, production and operations managers will watch the latter. You, Mr. Maintainer, are in the middle. What will you watch?

You can’t really control costs or availability, but you do have control over what you manage – your maintenance processes.

The maintenance process must be defined. In “Uptime” it is defined and explained, along with a number of the needed inputs and outputs to make the whole process run smoothly. The work management process is central to what maintenance departments do all over the world. We manage corrective and proactive work, and often small projects. That process has six (6) steps – identify, plan, schedule, assign, execute, and learn. Each step is also a process. Look at planning – it requires both identified work (from the occurrence of breakdowns, from your proactive maintenance (PM) program, and from projects), materials information from bills of material associated with the equipment being maintained, information on available skills, tools and support equipment that may be required, as well as money to pay for the planners. It also has outputs – planned jobs – fully defined and detailed so that scheduling can take place.

From that one example of a single sub-process of maintenance, you can see the integrated nature of what we manage. It isn’t just one process, it is many. Not only that, but they also interact with each other. If those processes are not working well or the interactions (integration points) are not working, then the whole thing can fail.

There are a number of performance measures that you can be watching to ensure that tightly integrated set of processes works smoothly. How much of the work is identified through breakdowns? How much is proactive? Are there BOMs for each equipment in your asset hierarchy? How many of the jobs you schedule are actually fully planned? How accurate are those plans based on field feedback? How many planned jobs are saved and re-used regularly as “standard jobs”? Etc.

Being effective in managing maintenance performance entails the management of a number of measures that tell you about the work management process, subprocesses, materials management, training of your tradesmen, reliability improvement efforts and so on. What you measure, how and how often you measure are all important elements.

Bench-marking has its place in helping you set realistic and achievable performance targets. It can help you see what other companies have done to achieve higher levels of performance, demonstrating that it is indeed possible to improve. Good benchmark data isn’t all that difficult to find, using it wisely is another matter. Setting a few targets and expecting different results won’t necessarily work, especially if you’ve chosen ill-advised targets. For instance, making adjustments only to the quantity of planning done, isn’t enough. How good are the plans? Are you planning the right work? Achieving benchmark levels of performance requires a concerted effort to improve performance across an entire array of measures, not just a few desired results like lowering costs or increasing availability.

For example, accountants often believe that you can control costs by controlling the few things you control as discretionary spending. They are so wrong about that though. If you don’t spend on some of those discretionary items (like having sufficient spare parts in stores, or sufficient skills training, or adequate tooling, or compliance to your PM program), you will end up spending much more.

Balanced score-cards provide an approach to tracking performance measures so that you achieve a balance between competing priorities.  Trade-offs are bound to be needed like the trade-off between inventory cost reduction and maintenance service levels.  By watching a balanced set of measures that considers the uptime outputs as well you are more able to make informed decisions that optimize performance in all areas to achieve the desired business output.

Performance measures are not about keeping score – they are about changing behaviors. Take advantage of our experience in managing maintenance programs – read our book, Uptime, and take some of our training.

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We begin our Uptime improvement programs with education. This helps you make informed choices about what to do or not to do, based on your existing knowledge of your current practices when compared with proven successful practices.