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7 Simple Questions To Help You Choose the Right Asset Management Metrics

pressure-690161_640The one thing I’ve learned throughout my career in asset management is that if you don’t measure something, people don’t do it. As soon as you stop measuring it, people will quit doing it. You may be measuring something this month and people start gradually improving – then you stop measuring it, and what happens? A month or two later that metric starts going down again.

Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”  – H. James Harrington

So measuring your efforts is essential, but how do you know which metrics to choose?

The truth is there is isn’t a single metric to get you where you want to go

Here’s a dilemma that many of us in asset management face: there are literally hundreds of maintenance metrics to choose from. I have so many maintenance books on my shelf that tell me you can measure OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness), you can measure percent of PMs completed on time, you can measure the quality of your work orders, you can measure this, you can measure that. A lot of people swear by OEE; it’s a good metric, but it is affected by so many things. If I have a poor OEE, I may be doing well in maintenance, but I may have operator errors or material problems. Or I could be doing well at OEE, but maintenance isn’t where it should be. So there isn’t one single maintenance metric that will tell you everything about your maintenance organisation and how well you’re doing.

And while you can’t rely on just one metric for your organisation, the flip side is you also can’t use a multitude of metrics at once either. In my experience if you ask people focus on too many things things at once, they won’t get any of them done well.

The sweet spot in choosing asset management metrics is selecting a small number of metrics that are important to you at a certain point in time. This is the only way to get them done well.

So how do you determine the metrics that are important to your organisation? Here are 7 questions to ask yourself:

1.Do your current metrics support company goals?

2. What are your strengths?

3. What are your opportunities?

4. Will the metrics you focus on improve throughput, quality, safety or the environment?

Every time somebody comes to me and says, “Hey, we need to do this,” I ask them, “How does it improve throughput? How does it improve quality? How does it improve safety? How does it improve the environment?” If it doesn’t improve one of those, I’m probably not going to do it.

5. Will the metrics you choose reduce costs?

Note that cost doesn’t necessarily have to be dollars; it can be safety or it can be less emissions to the environment, it can be other things too. 

6. Do you have a way to measure?

If you can’t measure it, it’s going to be difficult reporting on it. Watch out for an upcoming post where I’ll give more ideas on scorecard best practices. 

7. What does your group need to work on most?

I would suggest choosing only 3 to 6 KPIs to work on at any given time. Also, select KPIs that can help improve other KPIs.For example, if I’m looking at PMs and the percent of PMs completed on time, I may have another measure inside of that that looks at the quality of my PM. Does it say what to inspect? Does it say how to inspect it, visually measure from this point to that point? 

Metrics Can Be Changed at Regular Intervals

Your metrics don’t have to be set in stone.For example, if you have a 10-point scorecard and everybody is reporting out at 9.4 or 9.7, you’ve probably reached a point where you need to reassess your metrics. Every quarter I would advise looking at things you’re doing well and taking one or two questions off the scorecard. When I do this with my team I explain that our scores are going to go down, because we are now focusing on what we need to improve. I’m expecting us to be in the 6 or 7 range again, and then we’ll slowly and steadily improve and get back to that 9 or so, and then we’ll change it up again.

You don’t want to just set one set of metrics and measure them forever, because there are always other things you can improve on.

Ensure the Maintenance Team Knows Exactly How Your KPIs Are Calculated

Lastly, ensure your maintenance team knows exactly what they’re being measured on and how it’s calculated. After all, they’re the people that are going to be affected. Your maintenance mechanics, your electricians, your pipe fitters – everyone needs to know what they are measuring, why they’re doing it, and, more importantly, how it’s going to help them.

This post is based on Kevin Desrosiers’ top-rated presentation at Mainstream Conference 2017. You can watch video of his full presentation “Choosing Metrics to Achieve Cost Optimisation and World Class Performance” here.

About the Author 

Kevin Desrosiers_Mainstream ConferenceKevin Desrosiers is Systems Reliability Team Lead at Monsanto (USA). He has been in Engineering and Maintenance for 35 years: moving from plant engineer to maintenance supervisor to maintenance superintendent to engineering manager, and finally as a corporate strategic asset planning manager. He is a Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional.